Recently, our editor Maddy Agers had the chance to talk to Derek Minor about his album Reflection. Right now, his single “Change the World” featuring Hollyn is topping the charts! (Listen to it here.)
TDB: What’s been going on in your life since we last talked, and how did that form Reflection?
DM: Oh geez! You know, I think if anything has changed it was that I’ve grown to be more dependent on God. It’s funny because the higher He takes me, the more I realize that I can’t really handle a lot of this on my own. It feels as though I’m doing so much, it’s like when I let my hair down – well, I’m bald-headed so I don’t let my hair down! But you know, hypothetically! *laughs*
But when I let my proverbial hair down, how do I get everything done [with my wife and trying to be a great dad to my kids] while still doing music? I think that’s the coolest thing about Reflection. It was made from a place of confidence, just knowing if I can do what I’m doing coming from where I came from, there must be purpose for my life. I feel like everyone has purpose in their life, you know?
TDB: Yes, absolutely! I can relate to being so busy, too! One thing that I enjoy about this album is how it meets you right where you are – in the middle of carrying that stress.
TDB: “Change the World” ft. Hollyn has been probably the most popular song on this album. How did working with Hollyn come about? Was she part of the writing process?
DM: No, I actually wrote and produced the whole thing, except Dirty Rice at the end with the kids. That’s actually his kids singing the hook! But I produced and wrote the whole thing. It started off that I was singing it myself and I was like, “I’m not feeling the hook!” It didn’t have that salt, as I like to call it. So what happened was, Dirty Rice and I had been working with Hollyn for about a year at the time. He was like, “Dude, this girl is great, you’ve got to work with her!” I was like, “For real?”
He played me some of her stuff and I was blown away! This was before her first EP came out, and I said, “Yo, let’s see if we can get her to do this hook!” and she was like, “Yo, I’ll do it!” She came out and knocked it out in 45 minutes. It was crazy. She’s one of the best vocalists I’ve ever worked with, like I really enjoy working with her.
TDB: 45 minutes? That’s crazy! It’s so great seeing her making such great music. One of my personal favorites on Reflection was “Judo”, and I really want to know how that song came about. You had so many amazing lines in that song, especially that first verse. What’s the story behind that one?
DM: Well, it was really late in the studio and I was on YouTube watching a bunch of random kung-fu videos. I grew up a huge kung-fu fan. I’m talking about where they’re talking but their lips are moving, it’s overdubbed in English so it’s way off, and they’re flying in the air. That’s what I grew up on. I was just randomly going through, and it might have been because it was late and I was tired, but I was like, “I’m gonna make something crazy!” I got rolling with the beat going underneath and it just kind of came to me. The funny thing about it is that you don’t kick and punch in Judo, but it fit so well I didn’t even care. I was just going to do my thing on this one.
TDB: Yes! I love the line where you say, “I’m not a scary black guy”. I was laughing so hard because I know you and you’re not like that at all. The candy crush flow line is good too.
DM: It’s just funny because I’m 6′, I’m pretty muscular. I get these looks all the time and I just think, “you don’t even realize that your son probably loves my music.” It’s funny sometimes because I get these weird looks. We’re in a really weird place right now and it’s kind of funny. I thought I’d poke fun at that in a fun way, so that’s where it came from.
TDB: Another good one is “I’m Good”. Not only because Janice Gaines is on it, but also because it’s fun to blast that middle part of the song where the melody changes. What was it like to work with Janice on this one?
DM: So, my old lawyer was E.J. Gaines. He ventured off and did some different things, (so he isn’t my lawyer anymore), but was married to Janice. I’ve always been a fan of Janice, and I remember him playing some of her stuff and being like, “this is crazy!” So that was another thing where I did the hook and needed someone who could kill it. Someone who could sing you into high heaven, and this was the opportunity. E.J. had been my lawyer for 2-3 years, so I always would say that we had to do something with Janice. He’d always tell me to send him the track, and when I sent this one to him, he thought it was dope. It was cool to have her on there and bless it in that way.
TDB: There was another song on the album called “Live” and I really want to know who that song was made for, because I know it could go several different ways.
DM: I actually wrote “Live” for my two sons. It really came from a place where, when I was listening to that sample, my sons came downstairs. When my sons come downstairs they both are twisting knobs and stuff and I kind of get upset. Like, “dude, leave my pre-amp alone!” They’ve got everything turned all the way to the max, and I feel like they’re going to destroy my studio. I grab them, they hop in my lap, and I realize this work is just taking time away from work. I need to hang out with them and just kick it. From there it took me down that idea that I just want them to have a real life. I want them to enjoy the beauty of life and not just live life, go to work, and just kind of exist. That’s why I wrote that song to them.
TDB: I really felt that that song was from a parent perspective, but also felt that a fan could hear that in a similar light. I thought that was neat! It’s obviously more personal with your kids, though.
DM: Well sure, I grew up with my dad not really being around in my life. I remember playing it for a friend who almost started weeping. That’s when I realized this song was bigger than my kids. I almost feel like that was God talking to his kids, you know?
TDB: Yes, absolutely. What a great way to put it! I was kind of jealous of your kids after hearing it, I wish my dad wrote me songs like that! *both laugh* Before we go, I just want to know – what can fans be looking forward to over the next year?
DM: Well right now, the main thing is to keep promoting “Change the World”. It’s crazy because right now it’s been promoted to #1 on the CHR charts for three weeks. It’s been just looking at how we can keep promoting that, and I’ll be releasing some new remixes over the next few weeks. I’m on the Rock and Worship Roadshow, which is super dope. It’s got people like Family Force 5, Francesca Battistelli, Steven Curtis Chapman, Rend Collective, Passion, and Urban Rescue on it. I’m doing that, as well as working on new music. To be honest, I have a whole album worth of material finished right now. So really just working on new music!
TDB: I feel like you always have a great stockpile of music! *laughs* Thank you for taking the time to talk today!
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