Forward_FLAMEFLAME‘s brand-new album, FORWARD (Clear Sight Music), streets this week. In honor of the popular rapper’s forward momentum, we asked him six questions about the new tunes, his current inspirations and what future projects he’s most excited about. (And he might just do a little preachin’ in the meantime!)

1. What’s the significance behind your album title, FORWARD?

The most important things for Christians to consider are how we ought to think, exist and impact the progressively secularized American culture we now inhabit. We must be before God and studying His Word, asking how we should speak, act and evangelize the nations in light of the threats Christians face globally. The title, FORWARD, encompasses this discussion.

 2. I recently interviewed an artist manager who made the comment that “Hip-hop is the new pop.” What do you make of this statement?

Hip-hop is definitely popular, and a new trend within the format is the preoccupation with Christian thought and positivity. Now that these are hot topics, it is dire for Christians to be involved in the conversation, providing clarity as to what true biblical Christianity is versus cultural Christianity. People are looking for answers and hope during these turbulent times. We have an opportunity to share the love of God and the hope found in Jesus using a medium such as hip-hop.

3. You released your first book earlier this year. What was it like writing a book versus penning songs like you’re accustomed to doing?

I’m used to writing because of my studies for my degree in Biblical Counseling. However, the book writing process came with its own new challenges. Thank God for my wife who has her Ph.D! She and I co-wrote the book and shared the burden. The most difficult part was the editing process. All of the back and forth was intense and stretched me as a thinker and writer. I still have room to grow and hope to do so in future writings.

4. What’s on the horizon for your label? Is there one new artist in particular that you’re excited to introduce?

We are working on tours, curriculum and more music. We are also cultivating the gifts and talents of our new artist, Mike REAL. He is the ideal signee, and we couldn’t be happier with our partnership in ministry. We also want to further establish my new album, FORWARD. We covered a vast range of issues that we hope will lead to much discussion and action for the sake of the gospel being spread.

5. Who are some of the artists that are currently inspiring you both personally and artistically?

I’ve been inspired by Mike REAL’s new album, MIND OF HOLLIS. I had the privilege of watching some of his creative process, and it sparked something in me. Other than that, my inspiration has come from reading books and listening to sermons. I also enjoy listening to classical music!

6. What one piece of advice would you give to a young artist looking to have a career in hip-hop?

I would encourage upcoming artists to consider evangelistic Christian rap. Perhaps not as a full-time career due to the time, energy and connections one would need to actually make a living. Yet as an artist prioritizes school (assuming most aspiring artists are young), maintaining a job, a local church commitment and growing in a deeper relationship with our Lord, I’d say practice writing skillfully, creatively and intentionally about how to understand reality grounded in a Christian worldview. Getting a good grasp on those things, along with understanding the music business, will serve them greatly.

For more info, visit www.clearsightmusic.com or follow FLAME on Twitter.