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Album Review: Gemstones – Blind Elephant

Disclaimer: All views presented in this review are those of the reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O

In the Christian hip hop world, fans go two ways with people that used to be a part of the secular or mainstream world of hip hop.

The first approach is caution. “Are they truly saved?” “How long will this moment last?” “Let’s just sit back and pray for them.” No one wants to jump in too fast. Instead, they want to wait it out to see how the person grows.

The second approach is moreso the impulse approach. “Wow (name of artist) is saved! Let’s get them on a track with Lecrae!” “Let’s have them come speak at our events and testify.” This is usually unhealthy because we heap so much pressure on someone who is in the middle of trying to grow in their walk with the Lord.

Gemstones may have dealt with the first approach when he transitioned from Lupe Fiasco’s 1st and 15th family and released his mixtape, On The Road To Glory in 2010. He definitely caught the ears of some, but no one was quick to jump on his bandwagon. In 2012, he released Elephant In The Room and throughout that project he was much more clear to his listeners. It was as if he was making sure they knew he wasn’t afraid to talk about the “elephant” (or his faith) to those that knew about him.

After that project, he gained much more buzz, doing features with the likes of Bizzle, Bumps INF, Derek Minor and Asaiah Ziv (fka KIDD). He also caught the eye of Xist Music and signed with them in 2013.

Two years later, and the largely anticipated album, Blind Elephant, is here.

In this review, we will discuss some of the topics, sounds and styles that we get from Gemstones on this project.

The Flow

The first track on this album is titled “Quick Go In,” and that’s exactly what he did. Similar to “Fire In My Heart,” he came with the quick, passionate flow that he has become known for. He does a great job with finding a way to rhyme with almost each word in a bar. For the listener who likes to catch all of the rhymes, you can have a field day with Gemstones. He packs so many words in each line.

On top of the skill, he packs raw truth all in his verses and has a sincere passion for the hood. It’s flooded throughout all he does now. On “Lyrical Miracle” he raps,

“Comin’ for the dudes that don’t seem to care/damaging the minds of the seeds we heir/That only seem to rhyme when the weed is flared/so they don’t have a mind to be deep as prayer.”

The entire song, he just snaps on the beat. Listeners will have to rewind this one plenty of times to get everything that he said.

Gemstones is definitely an emcee that can rhyme and hold his weight with the best. However, one trait that has been consistent in his music is his delivery. His cadence and how he will go from slow to passionate is common in a lot of his songs. Consistency is a great thing, but it can also look like he does not know how to switch up his style much. This can be limiting because not everyone wants to hear the same flow pattern in every song.

“Press Harder” is a slower song, but as far as how he lays out his rhymes, the flow is very similar to when he is rhyming fast.

It’s easy to tell how talented he is on this project and it does not seem like he will allow his style to hold him back in the future. As he diversifies, he will only become that much more potent behind the mic.

Topics

If you have ever listened to an interview from Gemstones, you’ll hear that he’s passionate and vocal about a variety of things. He’s rapped about fallen friends, mindsets in the hood, government, the church and more on his past projects. Blind Elephant is no different and he lets fans know what’s on his heart.

On “New World” you will hear him rap about how he feels about the control the government has on our country. Specifically about all the ways the government is keeping tabs on their citizens and how he feels that it is all leading towards the end times. He doesn’t hold back his words in regards to his thoughts about conspiracy organizations like reptillians and more.

“Circles” is a very real story about someone caught up in the gang life and getting killed. He uses the story to share his feelings about how caught up the younger generation is with killing and being misled by media. You can really tell how much it bothers him throughout the song. His heart to be a part of the change. It is evident in every verse.

He ends the album with a song titled “Rapture” and it is exactly what you think it’d be about. His heart for the listeners to know that they will be with Jesus on the day of judgement. It starts with him singing, “Repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand/ And every tongue will confess, all knees will bend.”  He uses the verses to rap as if he’s speaking to listeners that don’t know the Lord. He plays out scenarios as if the rapture happened and you got left behind. It is a very thought provoking song (regardless of your theological view on the rapture).

Concept Thoughts

When Gemstones released Elephant In The Room, it seemed as if the elephant was him talking about his faith. On this project, it seems that Blind Elephant is referencing those who don’t know about the faith and are blind or those who know, but are blind to truly following Jesus.

Many of the songs on this project revolve around people getting saved, stories of his praying family, or him telling people to wake up to what is going on around them.

He did a great job with communicating his passion for people to come to know the Lord. That’s found in many CHH songs, but what is different about Gemstones’ music is that you can feel and hear the urgency in his lyrics.

The Wrap-Up

Blind Elephant contained many of the elements of a quality debut project. He let his fans hear his heart. He shares many personal stories in his raps. He showcased his ability to rap (for those who may have been sleeping) and even showcased how well he can sing.

There were no big name features on this project and that worked out for him. You can tell that he has a message on his heart and it helped let the listener completely in to his world. Listeners will walk away from this project excited about what else is to come from Gemstones. There will probably be much more features in the near future that we will see him on.

To reference the intro of this review, fans do not need to be cautious anymore, because it is very clear that Gemstones is sold out for Jesus and helping recruit for the Kingdom now.

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Branden Murphy has served as a Campus Missionary. He loves Christian hip hop and uses it within his ministry to reach and converse with many different students. He plans to use his heart for music and ministry to write album reviews on Wadeoradio.com. Branden is also married with two children. You can follow Branden on Twitter: @Bmurph633.

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