No one ever said life would be easy and some know this more than others. Chicago bred recording artist Gemstones is an amazing talent with an even more amazing testimony. Welcome to our interview with an overcomer.
This is Gemstones for Life!
Change is inevitable. At what point did you realize your music needed a face lift?
Lupe Fiasco and I were on the road touring. I was meeting all of these big stars like Jay Z and you would think I would be happy, but I was empty on the inside. I didn’t like what I was rapping about. The label wanted to box me into this gangster rapper when really I had more to talk about. A change came.
Positivity came over me and I started looking at the world differently.
A thought came that I didn’t want some little kid getting high and shooting people up while listening to my music. I don’t want anyone’s blood on my hands. I am done with that kind of music.
How would you describe your sound?
In this game they are going to label you. I don’t believe my music is Gospel. I don’t think its Hip Hop. It is a reflection of my personality and who I am. Yes, I speak the gospel. I come from Hip Hop, but I don’t believe there is a genre for what I do and I humbly say that. This is not Gospel music. This isn’t Talib Kweli nor Mos Def. All I can say is that it’s from God. This music can go in the church or it can go in the schools. It speaks a universal language. I may want to wake up and do a rock song, so why box myself into hip hop?
Be free! Whatever the listener hears it as, is what it is for that individual.
Its human music!
There you go. Put me in that genre. I will take that! You can be an atheist and deal with weight issues. If you got eyes to see and ears to hear, it’s for you. Positive thinking is for the soul.
What was your mindset during your weight loss journey?
When I was on tour I was really heavy. To keep people from looking at my weight I would cover it up with Gucci sunglasses, Prada, expensive shoes, and a $10 thousand dollar chain. I needed people to look at the material things and not see me. My esteem was really low but I had to keep up this facade like I was that guy, but I was really dying inside.
I literally almost had a heart attack while on tour. I felt a pain on the left side that I had never felt before. I remember praying, “Please God don’t let me die from this. I’ve ducked gunshots in Chicago; please don’t let me die from a piece of chicken. I’ve survived the hood; don’t let food take me out!” After that, Lupe suggested I go back home and get some help. I always wanted to do something about this, but now I was being forced to. I bought some shorts and every day I walked, jogged, ate baked chicken and drank a gallon of water. Before I knew it the weight fell off.
Three months went by and the label called me back on the road. By this time it was a lifestyle. I stopped smoking and drinking. As my physical was changing, God was changing my outlook on life as well.
Sounds like a song you wrote about a similar situation
Yes. The name of that record is XL (Excel). When I wrote that record I was down to 185lbs from 320lbs. I never really spoke to anyone about it. I don’t have a therapist before, so the beat, the pen, and the pad became therapy. I just started to vent about all the experiences I had. I cried writing that song. I started thinking about how people treat you differently when you are overweight. I put it in the perspective of “You laughing on the outside to cover up the stress, you on your way to Popeye’s, you eat because you’re depressed.”
That record broke chains. It so many people sending me emails with testimonies. Some dude was over 500lbs and he would email me along his journey. The last time I heard from him he got down to 230lbs and told me I saved his life. I wasn’t expecting that kind of response.
What was you motivation to remix Tasha Cobbs’ Break every chain?
My wife and I were on the brink of divorce. It was real shaky. My wife left and my world was shook up. I listen to the record on YouTube and it touched my soul. I had never heard of Tasha Cobbs before. I listened to it, picked up my pen and wrote from a place of hurt.
I wrote from a place of depression and heart ache. I needed the lust chain broken. I needed the unforgiveness chain broken. I had no idea people were going to take to it the way they did.
Next thing I know I was being contacted saying take the song down. The “higher ups” are saying, you have no business using this record. We don’t care how it goes in hip hop but this song doesn’t belong to you. People start thing it was the official remix and it went somewhere else. The enemy was working because it is positive and chains were being broken. It touched the people it was supposed to touch.
Why did you name your upcoming project “AFTER”?
This is where Gemstones is currently. AFTER will be a 7 song EP and it comes from everything I’ve been though. It comes from after the mind change, after the weight loss, after the Tasha Cobbs situation. That’s what really matters the most. Yeah you was in church but what happened after church? Yeah you got your Master’s degree, but what about after graduation? What’s up with now?
I pray God’s Word spreads. We need it. We got enough of the negativity going on.
We have enough Chief Keefs. We have enough dope sellers. We have made enough killers. We need more lawyers and doctors. We need more positive thinkers. We need more positive mags!
What is a favorite lyric of yours?
“It is better with no Geppetto on the top, freedom to do whatever whenever. I can’t be boxed!” Geppetto was the guys who pulled Pinocchio’s strings. What that means is – I’m a free man now.
How does Gemstones keep a positive mindset?
I meditate. I pray. The idle mind is the devil’s workshop. It’s a lot going on with the Internet. I’m going to keep it 100% with you. You can wake up in the morning feeling good. You can get on Instagram and see a lustful picture and that spirit of lust will jump on you. The flesh wants it. It’s a battle. The eyes are the windows to the soul. You have to guard your eyes, ears and heart. It’s not easy keeping a positive mind with all these things going on.
I stay positive by prayer and meditation.
Follow Gemstones on Twitter: @1Gemstones