Andy Mineo and group

Andy Mineo, who performs in Waco on Thursday, borrows the good-humored ‘90s rivalry of basketball stars Magic Johnson and Larry Bird for his “Magic and Bird Mixtape” project.

New York rapper, writer and producer Andy Mineo dipped into his ‘90s boyhood when he got writer’s block for his next album, the upcoming “Uncomfortable,” and the result took on a life of its own.

Also between projects was rapper Wordsplayed (John Itiola), a friend and, like Mineo, a member of the Miner League collective.

“We were both in between in making our records. We wanted something to hold the fans over,” he said in a recent phone interview from New York.

The two created a “Magic and Bird” mixtape, drawing on the basketball rivalry between NBA players Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, but found it couldn’t stop there. Revisiting the ’90s brought back memories of beepers, cell phones the size of a small brick, 120 mm camera film and websites with the first generation of moving GIFs. What started as a five-song EP expanded into 10 songs and video sketches posted on YouTube and Instagram.

“We were just hanging out and having fun. We’d think of something and write it down,” he said.

It also resulted in a 31-city “Friends and Family Tour” this fall, which stops in Waco for a Thursday night show at the Waco Hippodrome. Joining Mineo and Wordsplayed is Social Club Misfits.

And if listening and watching the video of two guys having fun with the past is entertaining, try the live version, Mineo said. “There’s a sense of freedom and fun onstage. It’s happening every night,” he said.

It’s the latest creative project for the Christian rapper, writer and producer, who built a reputation on lyrics with heft and emotion and polished his craft in New York’s competitive hip-hop scene. His 2013 debut “Heroes For Sale” landed in the Top 10 of both Billboard’s Top Rap Albums and Top Independent Albums charts and he’s presently signed with Reach Records, the label of Christian hip-hop star Lecrae.

Mineo also boasts a social media following of more than 1 million fans, but notes it can’t replace face-to-face contact with fans, followers or members of his Washington Heights, New York City, church where he’s a deacon. It’s that personal contact and interaction that sends Mineo back to church on Sundays whenever possible.

“It’s really tough to be an active member of your church when you travel so much, but that’s the stuff that keeps you going,” he said.

Tribune-Herald entertainment editor

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