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Derek Minor, born Derek Johnson, Jr. in Pontiac, Michigan, moved to Tennessee with his mother at a young age. Although he wasn't close to his father, a childhood summertime visit -- during which he started rapping, assisted by beats made by his father -- fostered his involvement with music. Johnson attended Middle Tennessee State University and graduated with a degree in recording industry management. From 2006 through 2008, the budding rapper and producer, known then as PRo, released a handful of mixtapes. He also issued the album Black Out through his Reflection Music Group label, but he considers the early-2010 mixtape PSA his first set of mature Christian rap. The album Redemption, released that July, peaked at number eight on Billboard's gospel chart. In August 2011, he released his second album, a conceptual set titled Dying to Live. It reached number two on the gospel chart but topped the Christian chart.