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“All songs have a meaning, a message. I consider myself the preacher getting that message out,” he tells me. “I want that message to be, “He sees you, and so do I.”

Cameron Johnson is fueled by his faith. It permeates and overflows through every aspect of his life. His parents raised him and his sister to be devout Christians, and he recalls his time in church from an early age. Music was a big part of his early memories, with gospel and Christian music showing him how the word of God can be shared and promoted through song.

Naturally, when music came calling in his teen years, Cameron, who performs under the name 180mindset, felt it was an opportunity for God to speak through him to anyone who would listen.

“God speaks through me with my music, and I am a ministry to deliver his message.”

While gospel and church music were foundational for Cameron, rap is his medium for sharing his music and message. The genre speaks more to his audience and provides 180mindset a chance to bring a different element to Christian music.

“With gospel music, there is often a happy feel to it. It’s more celebratory. But as people, we aren’t always up. We aren’t always happy. There are plenty of times we are low, and my music addresses that. Relationships, self-worth, hardships…people can find it hard to find their value in these things. But I know who will always see their value. I always end my songs with that resolve.”

Cameron combines his words and scripture with his music, utilizing each aspect of his lyrical creations to bridge the gospel to more modern and personal subject matters. This approach, he says, is the most impactful.

“When I am on stage, I, of course, want people to enjoy themselves. But above all, I want to impact them in some way. I have found music to be the greatest teacher, even more so than the classrooms. I want to impact hearts and influence minds.”

Cameron, as 180mindset, brought his message to OpenMike toward the end of 2023. “I went to a few of the OpenMikes at Millenium Park trying to perform, but I didn’t get selected. But just like with faith, I persevered and eventually got up there.”

OpenMike is a SocialWorks initiative to give young artists in Chicago a chance to express themselves creatively, performing a piece of music or spoken word, among other mediums, to a room full of peers and other artists. Those who wish to perform show up at the start of the night to sign up, and artists are chosen throughout the night.

“One of the last times I was at OpenMike, I performed my song “Cross Contamination.” It’s about spreading Christ around, impacting people through living for Him.”

Cameron described the moments before he started performing as nerve-wracking, not knowing how his message would be received. As it so often does, the OpenMike community responded very positively. “I saw people listening. I knew I was connecting with the audience. After I got off stage, people came up to me, telling me they were touched by the song. It felt amazing. It definitely inspired me to perform more at OpenMike and at other places.”

As 180mindset gains more experience writing and performing, he feels more comfortable with his own voice and message. A native Texan, Cameron moved to Chicago to attend Columbia College for audio production, further honing his skills to combine and execute the two aspects of his life he is most passionate about.

“Chicago has been amazing. The music scene is so welcoming and open. Where I came from, I didn’t have a lot of friends into rap. I’ve been able to find more of my people and share my creative passion since moving to Chi. It’s helping us all grow.”

Cameron continues to hone his craft, preparing for more OpenMikes and other shows, seeking every opportunity to collaborate and perform. It’s his passion, and it’s his calling.

“It took a while to get where I am at, and I want to keep going. I know my determination is leading to these blessings. I am seeing how God is working, and I am going to preach that to anyone who will listen.”