“Coming in Hot” by Andy Mineo and Lecrae, dropped in celebration of the Reach Records’ Summer 2018 playlist and Better Late Than Never Tour. It was THE concert song. For months, the two performed for hundreds, even thousands of fans at a time, each concert attendee rapping about “[c]oming in hot, just like the fajita” and reminding listeners “[y]ou don’t have to ball or rap to get them racks on racks.”
Now, nearly three years after its initial release, the song is about to receive an RIAA gold certification, a feat Andy has accomplished only once before with the ever-popular “You Can’t Stop Me,” while Lecrae has had two gold singles, one gold album, and a platinum track.
Crossing the threshold necessary to get a gold or platinum record is difficult enough without the backing of a major label, but for “Christian rappers” to reach such heights is all the more impressive. Andy and Lecrae maybe two of the biggest names in our space, but such a niche appeal never guarantees mainstream success.
For Andy, in particular, the popularity of “Coming in Hot” has to feel especially vindictive. As he revealed in the teaser for 2018’s I: The Arrow, his fear of his “best years being behind [him]” following the gold certification of “You Can’t Stop Me” added to his dealings with doubt and imposter syndrome. The 2014 smash hit was his biggest track at the time but came out before social media was nearly as large or pervasive as it is now.
Where once a label’s backing was the backbone of marketing and publicity, one can now leverage social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and more towards developing a strong following. For “Coming in Hot,” it is these platforms exactly that have aided in its stroll along the gold-laden road.
In our previous article on the song’s success, we broke down its buildup in momentum and the analytics as provided by Reach Records SVP Marcus Hollinger. As was pointed out there, “Coming in Hot’s” 2019 popularity surge goes back to Will Smith’s Tik-Tok debut, but additional celebrity placements since then have come from Stephen Curry, GiGi Hadid, and Kim Kardashian, just to name a few.
While the song’s traditional streams and downloads are nothing to make light of (currently sitting at over 50 million on Spotify), what makes the song’s surge in popularity all the more compelling is its meteoric rise on TikTok and Instagram Reels. “Coming in Hot” has become a clear representation of a changing music industry, one where the pigeonholing that one often attributes to niche markets like Christian rap is fading.
In our interview with Ruslan, he pointed out just how much of an untapped market there is for new content through popular digital platforms including Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. As he stated, there are “2 billion active users on YouTube. Instagram’s at 1 billion active users, so YouTube is twice as big as Instagram. And TikTok has 800 million active, so TikTok is right there with Instagram. Meaning there are a lot of people in the world, way more than we could ever imagine.”
Millions of those very same people are the ones who are running up the numbers for “Coming in Hot,” and will inevitably land two of Christian rap’s biggest names another gold plaque. As was revealed in their respective behind the song clips, the hit was created under strenuous circumstances, with Andy having to record his verse in Europe after he was unable to finish in the studio session with Lecrae. The unlikeliest of circumstances birthed what will go down as one of the biggest hits in either artists’ career, not only because it is an objectively fun record, but because it found those millions on emergent platforms.
Making content that can connect with an audience will never stop being important, but if Christian hip-hop artists, or any artists for that matter, want to grow beyond a few hundred thousand average listeners at best, they will need to take advantage of every opportunity. Just having an Instagram profile is not enough. Every new platform can be leveraged as a tool, and as we have seen not only with Andy and Lecrae but Paul Russell, Wande, and Tobe Nwigwe, those tools can propel one’s career further than what monthly streams could possibly reflect. The time to seek other revenue streams, new tools, and emerging markets is right now.
The YouTube space adjacent to ours is severely lacking save for a few big names like Ruslan, David Livick, Trackstarz, and The Crew. TikTok is helping pave the way to “Coming in Hot’s” success. According to Statistica there are 4.66 billion Internet users around the world, 4.2 billion of whom use a social media platform. Ruslan is right. There are a lot of people in the world, and devoting all your attention to reaching the same hundred thousand is foolish.
Expand the vision, not so you can have your “Coming in Hot,” but so you can create something that reaches people in new and innovative ways while giving all the glory unto our God. Jesus’s final call to the disciples, and by extension, His church, was to “…[g]o therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20; ESV).
Now, the world lies at our fingertips, our skills exceed that of any generation before, and Jesus is yet to come for His Church. What are we waiting for?