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Album Review: Gemstones- Elephant In The Room

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The following is an album review guest post, written by Branden Murphy, a long time Wade-O Radio listener and supporter. Branden’s bio and contact info can be found at the bottom of this post. If you’re interested in guest blogging, please contact our managing editor, Mikaela.

Disclaimer: All views presented in this Album Review are those of the album reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O.

3 Reasons Why You Should Pay Attention to The Elephant In The Room

When there is an “elephant in the room” generally no one wants to talk about it or mention it. The “elephant” is often an idea, event, or secret that everyone knows but they choose not to acknowledge. Elephant In The Room by Gemstones is not a mixtape that you will want to keep quiet about at all. When I think of Gemstones, I’m reminded of artists like Dee-1 and No Malice. Artists that rep Him on the daily while weaving their way through “mainstream” culture. Gemstones, formerly known as Gemini, has tasted the spotlight and found it less than fulfilling. Although he used to rap with Lupe Fiasco, God put him on a different track.

He released a mixtape called Fahrenheit 1st and 15th Vol. V: The Testimony of Gemstones in 2008. This Mixtape may be too explicit for some, but you can hear that his heart had changed. He released On the Road to Glory in 2010 and that was his introduction to many CHH listeners. Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville’s Senior Pastor C.J Mahaney states, “…only those who are humble can consistently identify evidences of grace in others…” and I feel this applies to artists such as Gemstones, Dee-1, and No Malice. Instead of trying to nit-pick about why this mixtape was not Christ-Centered enough, I’m going to lift up the evidences of God’s grace throughout this album.

Here are the reasons why you should pay attention to The Elephant in the Room:

1. Artistry

If this is your first time listening to Gemstones, make sure you’re strapped in as he’ll take off on a beat and leave you hangin’ if you’re not ready. You have to listen close or else you’ll miss a gem within each verse. He drops Jewels such as “Call a priest if you really shook killa, a prayer and prophecy follows me through the wilderness, Father put me where I should be.” There are so many bars on the first song alone:

In “Fire In My Heart,” he’s not just rambling a bunch of rhyming words, he’s telling both the saved and unsaved who he is with no filter. Any person that appreciates lyrical artistry will not be disappointed by this mixtape. He uses allegories throughout “Irregular” where he showcases that the “elephant” he’s referring to is his faith. He personifies music in “Dear Music” and pens out his heart about the current state of hip hop and where it’s been before. On each song, it is as if he has a lyrical canvas and draws vivid images for listeners to reflect on.

2. Authenticity

Authentic is the name of the game right now. If listeners can sniff out a fake, the artist might as well throw in the towel. Gemstones gives you all of himself; the good, bad, and the ugly. If there is anything that Gemstones lacks, it’s not passion. You hear his burdens on every verse. Songs like “Dying Breed”, “Why” and “Kitchen Table” give you an honest look at his heart and where he’s come from. You notice right off the back that he hurts for his people and the city of Chicago.

On his last mixtape, On The Road To Glory, he did a song for his friend that had passed away, and all you could do was sit back and say “man, I feel for that dude.” It’s nice when you can hear an artist’s ails and pains. On “Bottom of the sky,” he raps about where he’s been and how he doesn’t know why he never got full recognition. “I know I’m cold, why am I not there, only the Lord knows, I’m probably still here to help do a cleansing in your soul.” When an artist is genuine, it helps the listener open up to them because they know they are not getting a “cookie cutter Christian” verse.

3. Fish Factor (3.5/5)

I bet you are wondering what the fish factor is. Sorry to be corny, but it’s the album’s ability to reach unbelievers. Yes, God is the one that calls people unto him; However, music is a great medium to discuss our faith and use to be fishers of men (Matt. 4:19). This is a great album to share with people that do not know Christ. He says things like “Nothing about me is regula(r), because I don’t label it Gospel or secula(r).” He doesn’t rap as if he’s found the answer and now has the right to judge everyone else.

While listening, you hear a guy that got saved and wants to present true freedom to as many as he can. He has songs like “Still The King”, “Today”, “Make Believe” and “March for Hope” that clearly present Christ as the answer. These songs plant the seeds that God will eventually water. He doesn’t try to convert people, but while listening to a man that has been radically changed, it makes the listener really ponder about the truth he is presenting. Our job is to fish and I have already shared this album with many unbelievers. They really enjoyed it and it has sparked healthy dialogue about the Gospel.

All in all, this was a refreshing album to listen to. Although on his last albums he had usage of the n-word and a few others, he did not have any cursing (he bleeped out words on “Bottom of the Sky”) on this one. I would have liked to hear more songs with choruses but I’ll take what was presented, given that it was a free mixtape. As stated earlier, I wanted to point out areas where God has graced this artist. If you listen to his music from Lupe until now, you will see tremendous growth and a heart growing more and more passionately towards God.

Some may feel a certain way about rapping over “secular” beats, but I personally feel that if you kill it, then people will respect it (look at how many people talk about Lil Wayne’s remakes from his mixtapes). He didn’t try to remake the song and change the chorus with Christian lingo, he just ripped it over the beats. I can respect that and again, I can see where God’s graced him in his own artistry. It’s a blessing to see him use that gift for the Kingdom now. I feel about Gemstones as The Ambassador said in regards to No Malice, “When celebrities are saved, many times they display only a mild case of religion, not radical repentance. This Blesses Me.”

Money: 3 Fundamental
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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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