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Chicago performer 180MINDSET performs at Columbia’s Selah event 

With a wave of his mic, the crowd swayed in unison to a performance by Columbia College Chicago sophomore 180MINDSET. The set, like other performances at the Christian art showcase, Selah, dealt with themes of faith. During the showcase, hosted by Christian outreach organization Columbia Chi Alpha and Christian campus ministry Cru Columbia, 180MINDSET performed four of his songs to a live crowd at Haus in 623 S. Wabash on Saturday, April 27. 

180MINDSET’s performance included a range of styles and topics told through his energetic punchlines and lyrical flow — from a spoken word piece about wrestling with self-control to rhymes focused on praying over relationship anxiety. 

His closing number was filled with emotion and prompted crowd members to wave their hands and chant the chorus, “pipe down and hide my pride now,” from his 2024 single “Pipe Down.” 

The single highlights the struggles that Cameron Johnson, 19, has faced while developing his music career as Christian rapper 180MINDSET. Through the song, Johnson acknowledges his own inner conflict between balancing pride and faith. 

“That’s the thing about hip-hop, it’s so competitive and I started to get puffed up. I had to reel it back,” Johnson said. “I personally believe that with the lines I write, it comes from God. In order to stay humble, I just give all the credit to the Lord.”

Johnson recalled his first stage performance during a fifth-grade talent show at Chapel Hill Academy in Fort Worth, Texas. He wrote a rap titled “Anti-ugly” that was a response to the bullying he witnessed. “Honestly my mom helped me write that one,” he said. “I look back at that and I cringe but that was the start that’s led me here now.”

With the guidance of his family, his church and musical inspirations such as Kirk Franklin and Houston-born rapper Lecrae, Johnson turned his passion into a career as 180MINDSET. 

Just as with his lyrics, Johnson’s stage name, 180MINDSET, reflects the truth of his journey. He said he found himself “wearing a mask” during his first semester at Columbia and felt unfulfilled. “A lot of the things that I used to like, I don’t anymore, it didn’t bring me peace. When God changed my heart and my mind, everything flipped,” he said. “So when you take 180, you flip. But when you take a 360, you’re going back to your problems again.” 

Johnson’s experience at Columbia has influenced his music-making process, from finding community in collaborative events like Selah to connecting with other artists in the audio department. He said he has learned various techniques that have enhanced his performance skills like analyzing performance settings. “If I go to a very intimate space for open mic, it’s not going to be a lot of hype songs, more spoken word,” he said. “But if I go to a bigger outlet, I’m expecting you to have enough space to at least want to jump.” 

Columbia has also offered a steady foundation of support for Johnson through Christian outreach organization Columbia Chi Alpha. Through their shared testimonies and close connections, Johnson has felt at home. “I saw that I had a true family,” he said. 

Beyond Selah, Johnson said he aims to encourage relatability through his lyrics at live events, even for those who do not share the same faith. 

“We all have human struggles, but you may not believe that you went through what I went through,” he said. “My songs are just telling you how you can get out of it and who can get you through it.”

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