Derek Minor

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Derek Minor
Birth name Derek Johnson, Jr.
Also known as PRo
Born (1984-12-16) December 16, 1984 (age 30)
Pontiac, Michigan
Origin Middle Tennessee, United States
Genres Christian hip hop
Occupation(s) Rapper, Co-founder and co-owner of Reflection Music Group, Record producer, Actor, Screenwriter
Years active 2006–present
Labels Reflection, Reach, Scyon
Associated acts 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 in 2011 he signed to Reach Records in a joint venture between the two labels. 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 deal 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 three 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. 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[edit]

Early life[edit]

Derek Johnson, Jr. was born in Pontiac, Michigan on December 16, 1984, but at a young age relocated to Middle Tennessee with his mother.[1][2] His relationship with his birth father was distant, and his relationship with his stepfather became increasingly tense.[1] 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.[1]

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.[1] 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.[1] Johnson was also introduced to DJ Quik and Tupac Shakur that summer, and went home with piles of tapes.[1]

Personal Life[edit]

Derek Minor is currently married with one child.[3]

Early career[edit]

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.[1] 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.[1] 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.[1] While on the label, he released a mix tape, but the company folded and his life took a turn for the worse.[1] Removed from his strict home environment, Johnson rebelled. He pursued music, women and money until '"the season of death"' shook up his life.[1] 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.[1]


Reflection Music Group and first two studio albums (2008-2010)[edit]

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.[1][4] Johnson released his debut album The Blackout in 2008.[1] 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.[1][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.[1] 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]

Signing with Reach Records (2011)[edit]

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]

R.M.G., name change and Minorville (2012-2013)[edit]

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 and Empire (2014-present)[edit]

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 has now been confirmed to be released on January 27, 2015.[45]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Production discography[edit]

2008[edit]

Self-release - Black Out
  • Co-produced with Doc Watson and Young Vizzy A-Dot

2010[edit]

Self-release - Redemption
  • Co-produced with Docwatson, T-Dogg, K-Drama, D Free, Big Juice, Marv4Mobeats, and Battle Axe.[46]
Future - Endure
06. "At the Throne" (featuring PRo)[47]

2011[edit]

Tedashii - Blacklight
01. "Riot"
04. "Can't Get With You"
11. "Burn This House Down" - (co-produced with Joseph Prielozny)
Kareem Manuel - "Endure" (featuring PRo) - (co-produced with Tony Stone)[48]
116 Clique - Man Up
03. "Responsibility" (featuring Sho Baraka, Trip Lee, PRo, Lecrae, and Tedashii)[49]
Self-release - Dying to Live
04. "Get It"

2012[edit]

Self-release - PSA Vol. 3: Who Is Derek Minor?[50]
01. "Higher"
04. "Feeling Good" (featuring Chad Jones and Laura Reed)
05. "Getting By" (featuring Trip Lee)
08. "Riddle Me This"
09. "In Spite of All"
10. "Where Do We Go From Here" (featuring ZG)
Lecrae - Gravity
11. "Power Trip" (featuring PRo, Sho Baraka, and Andy Mineo) - (DJ Official with additional production from Pro and Andy Mineo)

2013[edit]

Json - "Work" (featuring SPEC)
Self-release - Minorville
01. "Lost in Minorville" - Co-produced with Dirty Rice and Joseph Prielozny
02. "In God We Trust" (featuring Thi'sl) - Co-produced with Heat Academy
03. "Gimmie" - Co-produced with Dirty Rice and Joseph Prielozny
04. "We Gone Make It" (featuring Canton Jones) - Co-produced with Joseph Prielozny and KG on the Track
06. "Hot Air Balloon" (featuring Kiya Lacey) - Co-produced with Dirty Rice and Joseph Prielozny
09. "Respect That" (featuring RMG) - Co-produced with Joseph Prielozny and Supaman Beatz
10. "Making Me More" (featuring Mel Washington)
11. "Sweet Dreams" - Co-produced with Joseph Prielozny
13. "Heaven's Little Runaway" - Co-produced with Joseph Prielozny
14. "Homecoming" (featuring Isaac Carree) - Co-produced with Dirty Rice and Joseph Prielozny
Canon - "Lotto" (featuring Derek Minor)

2014[edit]

Lecrae - Anomaly
08. "Dirty Water"

Filmography[edit]

Short films[edit]

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[51] No No No Yes Documentary web film

Webseries[edit]

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

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2011 Altered Pro Himself Voice-only

References[edit]

  1. ^ 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 January 13, 2013. 
  2. ^ PRo (December 16, 2013). "Thanks to everyone for the birthday...". Derek Minor. Retrieved May 18, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Derek Minor honors other performers with his music". Houston Chronicle. 
  4. ^ a b Zee (February 16, 2009). "Pro - The Making Of A Professional". DaSouth.com. Retrieved January 13, 2013. 
  5. ^ Hill, Kellus (July 9, 2010). "Review: PRo "Redemption"". DaSouth.com. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Pro Presents Redemption (The Short Film) (@mynameispro @reachrecords)" (Web/Video). YouTube. February 1, 2011. Retrieved January 13, 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 January 14, 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 January 14, 2013. 
  9. ^ Rood, Philip (June 2, 2010). "PRo presents Redemption - the short film". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  10. ^ DaSouth.com (May 29, 2010). "Video: PRo presents "Redemption" 20-minute short film". Dasouth.com. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Gospel Albums" (Web). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. July 31, 2010. Retrieved January 13, 2013. 
  12. ^ DaSouth.com (August 5, 2010). "Reach Records announces Unashamed 2010: The Movement Tour - Now booking". DaSouth.com. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  13. ^ Horton, Chad (August 10, 2010). "PRo Featured in JET Magazine". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  14. ^ "JET features PRo on site with major write-up". DaSouth.com. August 10, 2010. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  15. ^ Rood, Philip (January 25, 2011). "Reach Records signs PRo". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  16. ^ Wilson, Marcel (March 8, 2011). "Free Download: Reach Records releases PRo's mixtape "PSA: Volume 2"". DaSouth.com. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  17. ^ DaSouth.com (July 10, 2011). "Video: PRo launching online mini series July 12th". DaSouth.com. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  18. ^ Rood, Philip (July 15, 2011). "Reach Records' Upcoming Tours, Rehab, Man Up, & Unashamed Africa". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  19. ^ Sketch the Journalist (November 4, 2011). "Recap: Man Up Tour – Houston". DaSouth.com. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Man Up Tour || 10.22.11 || Houston, TX". DaSouth.com. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  21. ^ Rood, Philip (August 9, 2011). "PRo "Altered Pro" - Video Game". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  22. ^ DaSouth.com (August 9, 2011). "Reach Records releases online video game Altered PRo - PLAY NOW!". DaSouth.com. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Christian Albums". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. September 10, 2011. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  24. ^ Horton, Chad (August 26, 2011). "PRo 'Dying To Live' Featured Throughout iTunes". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  25. ^ Solis, Steven (September 13, 2011). "Flavor Fest 2011 National Artists Lineup". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  26. ^ Jeffries, David. "Man Up". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved January 14, 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 January 14, 2013. 
  28. ^ a b Horton, Chad (February 23, 2012). "Reflection Music Group Signees R.M.G. Get "Geeked Up"". AllHipHop. AHH Holdings LLC. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  29. ^ a b Horton, Chad (February 18, 2012). "RMG (PRo, Canon, Brothatone, Chad Jones) - Geeked Up". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  30. ^ DaSouth.com (March 21, 2012). "Mini Doc: RMG - Welcome to the Family". DaSouth.com. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  31. ^ R.M.G. "Welcome to the Family (feat. Pro, Canon, Tony Tillman & Chad Jones) by R.M.G". iTunes. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  32. ^ Sketch the Journalist (February 7, 2012). "Christian rap returns to SXSW in 2012: Reach Records & DaSouth.com showcases". DaSouth.com. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  33. ^ Solis, Steven (August 6, 2012). "Derek Minor fka PRo 'PSA Vol. 3' Cover Revealed". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  34. ^ Horton, Chad (July 8, 2012). "Reach Records Artists Come Alive Via The "Unashamed Tour 2012″". AllHipHop. AHH Holdings. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  35. ^ Sketch the Journalist (November 9, 2012). "Lecrae and other Reach Booking artists among first acts announced for SXSW 2013". DaSouth.com. Retrieved January 14, 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 May 4, 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 July 3, 2013. 
  38. ^ "Derek Minor - Dear Mr. Christian, ft. Dee-1 & Lecrae". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. May 2, 2013. Retrieved June 11, 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 July 3, 2013. 
  40. ^ "Derek Minor 'Minorville' Album Cover & Release Date Revealed". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. June 20, 2013. Retrieved July 3, 2013. 
  41. ^ a b Nyamu, Vincent (March 18, 2014). "Derek Minor No Longer With Reach Records". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved June 9, 2014. 
  42. ^ Roman Flores. "Video: Derek Minor Reveals New Album 'Empire'". Retrieved October 20, 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. ^ Reflection Music Group. "PRo - 'Redemption' CD". Merchline. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  47. ^ Collins, Paul (November 21, 2010). "Review: Future "Endure"". DaSouth.com. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  48. ^ "Kareem Manuel "Endure" feat. PRo". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. September 7, 2011. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  49. ^ Solis, Steven (September 21, 2011). "116 'Man Up' Tracklisting". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  50. ^ "Derek Minor (fka PRo) 'PSA Vol. 3: Who Is Derek Minor'". Rapzilla. Philip Rood and Chad Horton. August 14, 2012. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  51. ^ Reach Records (April 9, 2013). "Andy Mineo - Everything Must Go (@AndyMineo @reachrecords)". YouTube. Retrieved April 9, 2013.