Tag: Hip Hop

Gemstones “Fire In My Heart” video from release party goes viral on Facebook

A few days ago, I caught this incredible video from Chicago rapper, Gemstones, being shared around on Facebook. At first, by Ibo-Granmoun Bakalulu-Baka, who had posted the video to his Facebook timeline. At the time of this post, the video has over 37,900 shares with 5,400 likes and counting. Curious, I set out to learn more about this artist and the song, “Fire In My Heart.” (Lyrics)

On the original post, Bakalulu-Baka writes:

This is what Hip Hop suppose to be if she was never raped, prostituted and discarded by major and small record labels.

Who is Gemstones and why is this video going viral now?

According to Rap lyrics site, Genis.com profile post about Gemstones, his real name is Demarco Castle. He grew up in Jeffrey Manor/South C on Chicago’s South Side. Originally known as Gemini, he signed to Lupe Fiasco’s 1st and 15th Recordings, but later split from the label. After changing his artist name for legal reasons to Gemstones, he released the mixtape, Elephant In The Room on October 27, 2012 at CMPLX 2010 on Chicago’s South Side to friends, families and supporters. This raw, homemade video, was shot in the basement of the complex.

I’d say this specific video of the track, “Fire In My Heart” (which kicks off the mixtape), is going viral, simply because of it’s strong message to rappers about being fake, capitalizing on the misfortunes of others while limiting his opportunity, which he says he’s overcome. Gemstones had left the game for a bit to regroup. He also says that he found God and from what we’ve read so far, Gemstones if focused on changing his lyrics and approach from street lyrics to bringing a bit of reality and positivity to the rap game. So far, he’s doing a fantastic job.

Our favorite verse:

All you fake MCs that’s misleading our youth

Talking about the cars you all ain’t got

Crack that you never sold

Neighborhoods that you know you can’t go in

You ain’t real

Be yourself

It’s Gemstones and there ain’t no question who’s the elephant in the room

You’re gonna wish you never met me

What’s really interesting about “Fire In My Heart,” is that it’s backed by a house beat, which had been increasingly rare in Hip-Hop since the mid-90s when both genres were more similar than they were different. If you listen to the entire mixtape, it’s extremely creative and uses various samples. One that stands out is a riff from “Say, Say, Say,” a collaboration between Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson.

There are other references to electronic music interspersed. For example, the intro and hook on the second track of the mixtape, “Irregular,” are from Armin Van Buuren’s “Never Say Never.” Very creative, different and refreshing for the Hip-Hop arena.

We hope this solved the riddle for a lot of folks on Facebook who are hearing the song and discovering Gemstones for the first time. We wish him the best of luck and look forward.

Here’s his latest, “Let Your Light Shine Final.”

Dee-1 – Jay, 50, and Weezy Music Video

This one needs no introduction. We’re going to let Dee-1’s words speak for themselves. If you don’t get it…well, we can’t help you with that. Go ask someone to explain it to you.

Or, just watch this Muhammad Ali video.

Nile Rodgers tells the story about how he heard Rappers Delight

One of the most prolific songwriters of disco and dance music, Niles Rodgers, is responsible for over 40 #1 singles, including classic records by Sister Sledge, Chic, Madonna, David Bowie and INXS, as well as more recent hits in collaboration with Daft Punk, Avicii and other EDM producers. Nile appears in this video at Canadian Music Week about where and how he first heard “Rappers Delight,” which samples his classic Disco hit, “Good Times” and inspired generations of Hip-Hop artists to riff off of breaks from other artist’s records.

As a young DJ growing up in the 80’s, I used to do exactly what Nile talks about. Bring turntables and a mixer out to the street or set up a boombox and blast the music so my friends could breakdance on a sheet of linoleum we’d put down in a parking lot or basketball court. It was the early days of Hip-Hop and we had no idea both Good Times and Rappers Delight would spark a new genre that is now a multi-billion dollar global business.

In an era before sampling became popular, “Rappers Delight” was one of the first controversial records that pitted musicians against DJs and studio producers. After some discussion back and forth after learning about the record, Niles was credited with a co-songwriter nod, which now appears in the liner notes of re-releases.

Here’s the original. Listen for the break at 3:05, where it just breaks down to the bassline, kick drum and clap.

Now, here’s Rapper’s Delight in its entirety, which mostly consists of that break and the Sugarhill Gang rapping over it.

Kanye West SNL performance of Black Skinhead

Love him or hate him, Kanye West is back, and this time he’s not playing games. He’s going straight for the jugular on race, dropping lines that reflect on basketball star, Lebron James’ game jersey being burned by fans in Cleveland after James decided to play for the Miami Heat. How he’s been particularly judged by the media due to his relationship with Kim Kardashian, a white woman. Saying that even thought he’s attained this status, he still has to be careful of who he brings home with the media laying in wait at his doorstep to turn around a news story that will tell the world who he’s seen with.

His lyrics also contain references about how corporate America can’t control him or what he does, despite the money and the contracts thrown at him. He’s just going to continue running at warp speed and making his way in the life the only way he knows how. There’s no turning back. You’re either going to watch him or you’re not, but if you do, then get ready because he’s not going to play by the rules as they are set by others – specifically corporations, white society and media.

Without question, it’s arguably one of the most powerful songs in Hip-Hop today. It’s a game changer in terms of style. substance, beats and instrumentation. Whatever happens, this track is going to be hard to follow. I’m not going to say it’s equivalent to the legendary Public Enemy track, Fight The Power, chiefly because Kanye is talking about himself and his view of how the world treats him, while Chuck D. is looking at it from a “we” and not “me” perspective.

In Kanye’s world view, it’s always all about him – what they’re saying about him, how they are trying to bring him down and how he is going to still be standing. While his argument is absolutely valid and real, his continued focus on himself as the catalyst for others to hate him because of his skin color and what he does plays into an ego that, while touching on the issues of others, always comes back to what is being done to him and how he is living and dealing with that everyday. The question, is it unfair? Many times, absolutely. But if you’re an artist and you live in the spotlight, you’re certainly asking for attention and you must live in the glare of the spotlight that feeds the beast – the media. With it comes all the trappings of wealth, fame and success, but it also comes with media scrutiny and public reactions to moments when what you do is not perceived a unacceptable, regardless of who you are, what you do or the color of your skin. Like the time when Kanye decided to interject himself into the 2009 MTV Music Video Awards presentation for Best Video by taking over the mic during the presentation to the winner, Taylor Swift, and announcing that Beyonce should have won for her video, “Single Ladies.”

If you’re Kanye, is it always because you’re black in an unfair world? Or, is simply because you’re Kanye and the ego that drives your talent is so outsized, you only can see things the way you perceive them to be? It’s definitely a little of both, but if you listen to this new track, the perception is that Kanye will always be himself and others will judge as they do, but he’s keeping it moving in the only direction he knows how and whatever they do or say, they can’t stop him. As a black man in America, he makes a strong case, but he never wants to be judged for what mistakes he makes in the process, which is unfortunate. Because everyone, at one time or another, has to step back and take a look at their actions and ask themselves, am I doing the right thing, regardless of the color of my skin?

Anyway, it’s worth a listen. It really is that good. In Kanye’s world, his perceptions are real for him and that’s all that matters. It takes an artist of incredible strength to be able to light up the mic with as tough as these lyrics are to digest. It’s a portrait of our society – one that is as real, brutal and honest as an artist can get. Hard to digest for most for sure, but give it to Kanye for saying what needs to be said.

UPDATE: After listening to this track again, let me restate my position on the “we” vs “me” comment I made in this post. Maybe I missed something and it took the lyrical scientists over at Rap Genius to school me.

In this verse, Kanye shines the spotlight on kids in urban communities, especially Chicago, where Kanye is from, acting like “goons.”

Stop all that goon shit
Early morning cartoon shit
This is goon shit
Fuck up your whole afternoon shit

It’s a reflection on how kids are joining gangs and trying to be tough by killing each other in the streets of Chicago. It’s a call to all those listening that their way of life is, in fact, cartoonish and silly.

In another new track also performed on SNL called, New Slave, Kanye raps about some black Americans buying into the culture of spending on luxury goods. Despite the success of Black Americans in Hip-Hop and the trappings of wealth and acclaim it has brought them, in Kanye’s view, it’s still subservient to buy into the consumer culture, because black Americans who have attained wealth continue to enrich those who are in power by buying these luxury goods. That, no matter how you slice it, slavery still exists – but, it’s now mental slavery that he equates to profit taking from the purchase of luxury goods by the black community that continues to enslave the community, in place of the physical slavery experienced by those who came before them. It’s a powerful, raw and controversial statement, because its some in Hip-Hop that perpetuate the idea that if you make money, you should spend it on bling and display your wealth. That begets the question, if you are critical of that culture, then why buy an $11M mansion in Beverly Hills? It’s a hard question to answer, that’s for sure. One one hand, don’t be part of the machine, but on the other, live within the machine. It all depends on whether it’s on your own terms. There’s a level of hypocrisy in the statement that undercuts the message, but the message is important nonetheless.


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