In the era of SoundCloud rap, the lines between low-key, off-the-cuff experimentation and sweated-over, start-to-finish completion have become thoroughly blurred. Andy Mineo began his rise slightly ahead of that phenomenon, after spending his teen and college years as a basement beatmaker for his friends and himself. The New York-based MC could be goofy or clever on his mixtapes, EPs, and albums, but he was dead serious about giving his music a moral center, often by describing the complexities of living out faith, and prioritizing both technique and self-reflection.
The new mixtape Work in Progress is Mineo’s version of sharing his ideas (unreleased tracks he’s held on to for years and alternate versions of previously released material) in less processed forms while providing his own annotation. (There are explanatory podcast episodes that correspond with individual tracks.) “I ain’t done (BEAM version).aif,” a defiant track with subterranean bass (another version of which appeared on an EP last year), begins with him explaining that he created the track while trying to escape the pressures of success and get back to his roots. Insecurity of all kinds—relational, professional, and spiritual—is a central theme throughout, surfacing in the broody “Honest 2 God Tyshane-DSTL 1.0.mp3,” the swaggeringly sulky “I DON’T NEED YOU (DEMO).wav,” “Family Photo second half idea 2 (joel draft).aif,” which unfurls a bruised narrative over a molten bed of keyboard, and “Reflections Rough W_Horns & Break.Mp3,” during which he surges through the verses, wired on closely held social convictions.