Derek Minor
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Derek Minor
Derek Minor
Derek Johnson, Jr.
PRo
Born (1984-12-16) December 16, 1984 (age 33)
Pontiac, Michigan
Origin Middle Tennessee, United States
Genres Christian hip hop
Rapper, record producer, actor, screenwriter
2006-present
Labels Reflection, Reach, Scyon
116 Clique, Andalé, Canon, Chad Jones, Chris Cobbins, DJ Wade O, Json, Lecrae, R.M.G., Tony Tillman
Website derekminor.com

Derek Johnson, Jr., better known by his stage name Derek Minor and former stage name PRo, (born December 16, 1984) is an American Christian hip hop artist, record producer, entrepreneur, actor, and screenwriter. He co-founded the hip-hop record label Reflection Music Group (RMG) with Doc Watson, and signed to Reach Records in a joint venture between the two labels in 2011. In 2012, Johnson announced that he had changed his stage name from Pro to Derek Minor. In 2014, he announced that as his two-album contract with Reach was complete, he would no longer be publishing releases through that label.

He is a founding member of the hip-hop group R.M.G. on Reflection, and is also a member of the Reach hip-hop collective 116 Clique. Johnson has released six studio albums and six mixtapes as a solo artist, as well as one studio album each with the groups R.M.G. and 116 Clique. His second studio album, Redemption, charted at No. 8 on the Billboard Gospel chart and No. 31 on the Billboard Top Christian chart. His third studio album, Dying to Live, debuted at No. 66 on the Billboard 200, No. 1 on the Top Christian chart, No. 2 on the Gospel Albums chart, No. 7 on the Top Independent Albums chart, and No. 11 on the Top Rap chart. His fourth album, Minorville, released in 2013 debuted at No. 5 on Billboard's Rap Albums chart and No. 7 on the Top Christian chart. He partnered with Entertainment One to release his fifth album, Empire, that debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard Rap Albums chart and No. 1 on the Top Christian chart. His sixth album, Reflection, entered the Billboard Rap Albums chart at No. 5 and the Top Christian chart at No. 7. Reflection's single "Change the World" featuring Hollyn reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot AC/CHR chart.[1]

Johnson's film and television work includes the three-part webseries "Dying to Live" and the short documentary films Redemption and Welcome to the Family Documentary. Johnson also was featured as the title character in the video game Altered Pro, released under Reach Records.

Life and career

Early

Derek Johnson, Jr. was born in Pontiac, Michigan on December 16, 1984, but at a young age relocated to Middle Tennessee with his mother.[2][3] His relationship with his birth father was distant, and his relationship with his stepfather became increasingly tense.[2] Furthermore, Johnson's stepfather was a drug user while his mother was a strict, devout Christian with a rigorous work schedule and homelife. Johnson decided to help his mother by becoming rich through either education or music.[2]

Johnson had grown up with music, as Gospel songs were played at his house and his mother was in choir and sang around the city.[2] Johnson's father, a jazz musician, provided the inspiration for him to go into music. When Johnson was 12, he visited his father in the summer and started rapping about God and adolescence, with his father producing beats with an Ensoniq ASR-10.[2] Johnson was also introduced to DJ Quik that summer, and went home with piles of tapes.[2]

After visiting to Middle Tennessee State University at age 15, Johnson decided to enroll in the music program there and make his ambitions a reality.[2] His mother helped him by buying him production equipment, and by the time he entered college, Johnson was in a rap duo and got a job to pay for studio time.[2] He graduated in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in Recording Industry Management.[4] Johnson recalls that before he turned 21 he used a bunk bed as a mic stand and signed a record deal with an independent label.[2] While on the label, he released a mix tape, but the company folded and his life took a turn for the worse.[2] Removed from his strict home environment, Johnson rebelled. He pursued music, women and money until '"the season of death"' shook up his life.[2] Within a short time span, Johnson lost his grandfather, grandmother and godmother. This loss sparked a realization of the fleeting nature of life, and Johnson decided to dedicate his life and talents to God.[2]

Reflection Music Group (2008-2010)

Johnson co-founded Reflection Music Group, then-called Christ Like Entertainment, with his friend Doc Watson, who he met while working on a second mixtape, Transformers.[2][4] Johnson released his debut album The Blackout in 2008.[2] According to DaSouth.com, the "braggidocious, swagtastic approach" that Johnson took on the album met with controversy in the Christian hip hop community.[5] Johnson took a break from rapping, and was challenged and influenced by a new friend, BJ, that he met at his new church in Memphis, Tennessee, and was further challenged by Christian hip-hop artist Lecrae.[2][6] Johnson reflected that his first album was mostly about haters and how good an emcee he was, and was convinced that it should have been more focused on God.[6] In January 2010, Johnson released the mixtape PSA, which he considers his first full-length installment of "mature" Christian music.[2] That year, Johnson went on the "Urban Missionary Tour" with Thi'sl, k-Drama, and J'Son, including a stop in the United Kingdom.[7][8] In preparation for his second studio album, Redemption, Johnson wrote a short autobiographical film entitled "Redemption", and it was released as a web film in May.[9][10] The album Redemption was released July 13, 2010, and peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums and No. 31 on the Top Christian Albums charts.[11] This release was followed by an announcement in August that Johnson would be featured as a special guest on the 116 Clique "Unashamed 2010" tour, which ran October through November.[12] Also in August, Johnson received a write-up in Jet and was featured on the front page of the magazine's website.[13][14]

Reach Records and name change (2011-2013)

On January 25, 2011, Reach Records announced that it had signed Johnson as a joint venture with Reflection Music Group, and the same day Johnson released the single "116", featuring KB.[15] On March 8, Johnson released the mixtape PSA: Vol. 2.[16] On July 10, Johnson announced the launch of a three-part webseries "Dying to Live" to promote his upcoming studio album of the same name.[17] In the months of August and October, Pro toured with 116 Clique as part of the group's "Man Up" campaign.[18][19][20] On August 9, Reach Records released the web game Altered Pro, a zombie game based off the Sega classic Altered Beast.[21][22] The full-length studio album, Dying to Live, was released on August 23. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Christian Albums chart, No. 2 on the Gospel Albums chart, No. 7 on the Independent Albums, No. 11 on the Rap Albums chart and No. 66 on the Billboard 200.[23] The album was also the featured banner on the iTunes homepage as well in the Christian & Religious and Hip Hop/Rap departments.[24] In September, Johnson performed at the 2011 Flavor Fest, and on September 27, 2011, the album Man Up by 116 Clique was released.[25][26] In October, Johnson was included with Braille and 116 Clique as some of the artists in the iTunes Indie Spotlight for hip hop music.[27]

In February 2012, Reflection Music Group announced the formation of the hip-hop group R.M.G., consisting of the artists Pro, Canon, Tony Tillman (formerly known as Brothatone), and Chad Jones (formerly known as Conviction).[28][29] With this announcement came the release of R.M.G.'s debut single "Geeked Up" on February 21.[28][29] On March 21, the group released an online documentary film entitled "Welcome to the Family Documentary" in preparation for its debut album Welcome to the Family, which was released March 27.[30][31]

On March 17, 2012, Johnson performed at the 2012 South by Southwest festival as part of the Reach Records showcase along with Lecrae, Trip Lee, Tedashii, Andy Mineo, and KB.[32] On August 6, 2012, Johnson revealed the cover art for his upcoming mixtape, PSA Vol. 3: Who Is Derek Minor?, and with it revealed that he had changed his stage name from Pro to Derek Minor.[33] From October through November, Johnson toured with 116 Clique on the "Unashamed 2012: Come Alive" tour.[34] On November 8, 2012, South by Southwest announced that Reach Records would again hold a showcase with its entire roster, including Derek Minor, in 2013.[35]

In an interview with Rapzilla on May 5, 2013, Kyle Dettman, video director for Reach Records, revealed that Reach Records is preparing promotional material for Derek Minor's upcoming album Minorville.[36] On June 6, 2013, Minor released a lyric video for a single from Minorville, "Dear Mr. Christian" featuring Dee-1 and Lecrae, followed by an actual release of the single the next day.[37][38] Later, on June 21, Reach Records released the album cover for Minorville by a video showing the album cover making-process, and also announced the release date, September 10, 2013.[39] The promotion for the album continued on July 2, when Minor dropped a teaser video for a track called "In God We Trust" featuring Thi'sl.[40] The album debuted at No. 40 on the Billboard 200, No. 1 on the Gospel Albums Chart, No. 2 on the Christian Albums Chart, No. 6 on the Independent Albums Chart and No. 6 on the Rap Albums Chart, making it his best chart performing album to date.

On March 18, 2014, Rapzilla announced that Derek Minor had parted ways with Reach Records, as his two-album contract with Reach had expired.[41] Minor was quoted, "I've grown as an artist, business owner and a man. The beauty of the relationship we've established is that business wasn't its primary agenda and I'm excited to see what the future holds for both RMG and Reach."[41]

New distribution deal (2014-present)

In October 2014 at the Dove Awards he announced that his fifth album will be titled Empire and will be released in the first quarter of 2015.[42] On October 22, 2014, it was announced that Derek Minor had signed a distribution deal with Entertainment One.[43] The first single off the album "Who You Know" was released on November 14, 2014.[44] The second single "Party People" featuring Social Club was released on December 9, 2014. Empire was released on January 27, 2015.[45] The album debuted at No. 54 on the Billboard 200.

On July 29, 2016, he announced that he would be releasing his sixth studio album, Reflection, on October 14, 2016. A few days later he released a free EP, 1014, to those who pre-ordered the album.[46]Refection debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard Christian Albums chart, No. 5 on the Rap Albums chart, and No. 15 on the Independent Albums chart. His music video for Reflection album cut "Until I'm Gone" featuring B.J. the Chicago Kid premiered on Billboard.com.[47] The visual for "Look at Me Now" premiered on BET.com.[48]

In February 2017, his song "Change the World" featuring Hollyn reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot AC/CHR chart.[1] That same month, Minor embarked on the Rock and Worship Roadshow with Steven Curtis Chapman, Francesca Battistelli, Rend Collective, Passion and others.[49] In the spring of 2017, broadcast of the We Love Christian Music Awards, Minor's Reflection album received the Rap/Urban Album of the Year honor.[50]

In mid-2017, Minor premiered the stand-alone single "Fresh Prince" on HipHopSince1987.[51]

His next installment of music was the Up and Away series, which featured four projects: the EPs "Your Soul Must Fly" and "High Above," which dropped in the fall of 2017, and The Trap and By Any Means, due out in 2018. The titles form a sentence, "Your soul must fly high above the trap by any means."[52]

Discography

Filmography

Short films

Year Film Director Producer Writer Actor Notes
2010[6] Redemption N/A N/A Yes[6] Yes[6] Web film
2012 Welcome to the Family Documentary No N/A Yes Yes Documentary web film
2013 Everything Must Go[53] No No No Yes Documentary web film

Webseries

Year Program Credit Notes
2011 Dying to Live Writer, actor 3-part promotional series

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2011 Altered Pro Himself Voice-only

Awards and nominations

GMA Dove Awards

A Dove Award is an accolade by the Gospel Music Association (GMA) of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the Christian music industry.

Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2014 "Dear Mr. Christian" (featuring Dee-1 and Lecrae) Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song of the Year Nominated [54]
Minorville Rap/Hip Hop Album of the Year Won [55]
2016 "No Quit" Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song of the Year Nominated [56]

Grammy Awards

A Grammy Award is an honor awarded by The Recording Academy to recognize outstanding achievement in the mainly English-language music industry.

Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2013 Gravity (as producer) Best Gospel Album Won [57]

Stellar Awards

The Stellar Awards is a Gospel Music Awards in the U.S., honoring Gospel Music artists, writers, and industry professionals.

Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2015 Anomaly (as producer) Rap Hip Hop Gospel CD of the Year Won [58]
2016 Empire Rap Hip Hop Gospel CD of the Year Won [59]

References

  1. ^ a b Sarachik, Justin. "Derek Minor's 'Change the World' ft. Hollyn Hits No. 1 on Billboard Chart". Rapzilla.com. Retrieved 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Reflection Music Group. "Derek Minor (PRo)". Artists. Reflection Music Group. Retrieved 2013. 
  3. ^ PRo (December 16, 2013). "Thanks to everyone for the birthday..." Derek Minor. Retrieved 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Zee (February 16, 2009). "Pro - The Making of a Professional". DaSouth.com. Retrieved 2013. 
  5. ^ Hill, Kellus (July 9, 2010). "Review: PRo "Redemption"". DaSouth.com. Retrieved 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Pro Presents Redemption (The Short Film) (@mynameispro @reachrecords)" (Web/Video). YouTube. February 1, 2011. Retrieved 2013. 
  7. ^ Rood, Philip (April 14, 2010). "Urban Missionary Tour 2010 feat. Thi'sl, k-Drama, J'Son, Pro". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved 2013. 
  8. ^ DJ D-Lite (September 24, 2010). "London Rap Concert featuring DJ Morphiziz, J'Son, K-Drama, Pro & Thi'sl, Sunday Sept. 26th". DaSouth.com. Retrieved 2013. 
  9. ^ Rood, Philip (June 2, 2010). "PRo presents Redemption - the short film". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved 2013. 
  10. ^ DaSouth.com (May 29, 2010). "Video: PRo presents "Redemption" 20-minute short film". Dasouth.com. Retrieved 2013. 
  11. ^ "Gospel Albums". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. July 31, 2010. Retrieved 2013. 
  12. ^ DaSouth.com (August 5, 2010). "Reach Records announces Unashamed 2010: The Movement Tour - Now booking". DaSouth.com. Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved 2013. 
  13. ^ Horton, Chad (August 10, 2010). "PRo Featured in JET Magazine". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved 2013. 
  14. ^ "JET features PRo on site with major write-up". DaSouth.com. August 10, 2010. Retrieved 2013. 
  15. ^ Rood, Philip (January 25, 2011). "Reach Records signs PRo". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved 2013. 
  16. ^ Wilson, Marcel (March 8, 2011). "Free Download: Reach Records releases PRo's mixtape "PSA: Volume 2"". DaSouth.com. Retrieved 2013. 
  17. ^ DaSouth.com (July 10, 2011). "Video: PRo launching online mini series July 12th". DaSouth.com. Retrieved 2013. 
  18. ^ Rood, Philip (July 15, 2011). "Reach Records' Upcoming Tours, Rehab, Man Up, & Unashamed Africa". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved 2013. 
  19. ^ Sketch the Journalist (November 4, 2011). "Recap: Man Up Tour - Houston". DaSouth.com. Retrieved 2013. 
  20. ^ "Man Up Tour || 10.22.11 || Houston, TX". DaSouth.com. Retrieved 2013. 
  21. ^ Rood, Philip (August 9, 2011). "PRo "Altered Pro" - Video Game". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved 2013. 
  22. ^ DaSouth.com (August 9, 2011). "Reach Records releases online video game Altered PRo - PLAY NOW!". DaSouth.com. Retrieved 2013. 
  23. ^ "Christian Albums". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. September 10, 2011. Retrieved 2013. 
  24. ^ Horton, Chad (August 26, 2011). "PRo 'Dying To Live' Featured Throughout iTunes". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved 2013. 
  25. ^ Solis, Steven (September 13, 2011). "Flavor Fest 2011 National Artists Lineup". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved 2013. 
  26. ^ Jeffries, David. "Man Up". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2013. 
  27. ^ Horton, Chad (October 29, 2011). "iTunes Indie Spotlight: Hip-Hop - October 2011 Features 116, PRo, & Braille". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved 2013. 
  28. ^ a b Horton, Chad (February 23, 2012). "Reflection Music Group Signees R.M.G. Get "Geeked Up"". AllHipHop. AHH Holdings LLC. Retrieved 2013. 
  29. ^ a b Horton, Chad (February 18, 2012). "RMG (PRo, Canon, Brothatone, Chad Jones) - Geeked Up". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved 2013. 
  30. ^ DaSouth.com (March 21, 2012). "Mini Doc: RMG - Welcome to the Family". DaSouth.com. Retrieved 2013. 
  31. ^ R.M.G. "Welcome to the Family (feat. Pro, Canon, Tony Tillman & Chad Jones) by R.M.G". iTunes. Retrieved 2013. 
  32. ^ Sketch the Journalist (February 7, 2012). "Christian rap returns to SXSW in 2012: Reach Records & DaSouth.com showcases". DaSouth.com. Retrieved 2013. 
  33. ^ Solis, Steven (August 6, 2012). "Derek Minor fka PRo 'PSA Vol. 3' Cover Revealed". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved 2013. 
  34. ^ Horton, Chad (July 8, 2012). "Reach Records Artists Come Alive Via The "Unashamed Tour 2012"". AllHipHop. AHH Holdings. Retrieved 2013. 
  35. ^ Sketch the Journalist (November 9, 2012). "Lecrae and other Reach Booking artists among first acts announced for SXSW 2013". DaSouth.com. Retrieved 2013. 
  36. ^ Rood, Philip (May 2, 2013). "Kyle Dettman Live Interview - Lecrae Confe$$ions Music Video" (Video/Web). Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved 2013. 
  37. ^ "Derek Minor - Dear Mr. Christian, (Lyric Video) ft. Dee-1 & Lecrae" (Video/Web). Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. June 6, 2013. Retrieved 2013. 
  38. ^ "Derek Minor - Dear Mr. Christian, ft. Dee-1 & Lecrae". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. May 2, 2013. Retrieved 2013. 
  39. ^ Solis, Steven (July 2, 2013). "Derek Minor - In God We Trust ft. Thi'sl" (Web/Video). Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved 2013. 
  40. ^ "Derek Minor 'Minorville' Album Cover & Release Date Revealed". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. June 20, 2013. Retrieved 2013. 
  41. ^ a b Nyamu, Vincent (March 18, 2014). "Derek Minor No Longer With Reach Records". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved 2014. 
  42. ^ Roman Flores. "Video: Derek Minor Reveals New Album 'Empire'". Retrieved 2014. 
  43. ^ "Lecrae's Former Label-Mate Derek Minor Signs to Popular Secular Music Company eOne". Christian Post. 
  44. ^ "iTunes - Music - Who You Know - Single by Derek Minor". iTunes. 
  45. ^ "iTunes - Music - Empire by Derek Minor". iTunes. 
  46. ^ "Derek Minor Releases Free '1014' EP". Newreleasetoday.com. July 29, 2016. Retrieved 2016. 
  47. ^ "Derek Minor Debuts Soulful 'Until I'm Gone' Video Feat. BJ The Chicago Kid: Premiere". Billboard. Retrieved 2017. 
  48. ^ "BET Gospel: World Premiere | Derek Minor - 'Look at Me Now'". BET.com. Retrieved 2017. 
  49. ^ "Tour News: Compassion International Announces The 9th Annual Rock & Worship Roadshow - Today's Christian Entertainment". todayschristianent.com. Retrieved 2017. 
  50. ^ We Love Christian Music Awards (May 28, 2017), Derek Minor Wins Rap/Urban Album of the Year - 5th Annual WLAs (Seg 11 of 20), retrieved 2017 
  51. ^ "Derek Minor - Fresh Prince (Premiere)". Home of Hip Hop Videos & Rap Music, News, Video, Mixtapes & more. June 30, 2017. Retrieved 2017. 
  52. ^ "Derek Minor Reveals the Titles for Parts 3 & 4 of 'Up and Away' Series | Wade-O Radio". wadeoradio.com. Retrieved 2018. 
  53. ^ Reach Records (April 9, 2013). "Andy Mineo - Everything Must Go (@AndyMineo @reachrecords)". YouTube. Retrieved 2013. 
  54. ^ Rood, Philip. "45th Dove Awards 2014 Nominees". Rapzilla.com. Retrieved 2017. 
  55. ^ Rood, Philip. "45th Dove Awards 2014 Nominees". Rapzilla.com. Retrieved 2017. 
  56. ^ "2015 Winners | The 48th Annual GMA Dove Awards". doveawards.com. Retrieved 2017. 
  57. ^ "55th Annual GRAMMY Awards". The Recording Academy. June 24, 2013. Retrieved 2017. 
  58. ^ Daniels, David. "Lecrae wins 2015 Stellar Award for 'Anomaly'". Rapzilla.com. Retrieved 2017. 
  59. ^ "Derek Minor Wins 2016 Stellar Award". Jam the Hype. February 22, 2016. Retrieved 2017. 

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