Less than three years ago, Deniro Farrar emerged out of North Carolina as one of the new and different MCs to watch. With a distinctive gravelly voice, unfiltered honesty and a palpable fire that helped him earn the name “The Leader of Cult Rap.” But back then the only thing raw and gluten free about the 27-year-old cerebral lyricist was his bars.

Deniro traded in the cigarettes, fast food and blunts for clean living, healthy eating and exercise. So I (painstakingly) woke up at 6 a.m. and headed over to the world famous Griffith Park in Los Angeles to catch up with the Mind of a Gemini rapper who showed off his lean physique and even outran the First Dog of Cult Rap, Breezy (as seen in the video). Deniro opened up about his new sound and lifestyle, losing his friend to police brutality in a situation eerily similar to one depicted in his new single “Classic Mouth” and his kinship with Denzel Curry.

On his new sound

“It’s just been the evolution of my mind more than anything. You know, and that’s affected the content for the most part. I’ve read a lot more over the last couple years, you know and I’ve just honed in on my craft, dressing the music up but now making it felt, making it understood. That’s been my aim,” Deniro tells HipHopDX, adding, “That’s been my target. Liberate the people through the music but breaking down the knowledge to where they can understand it. The overall message of the music is still the same, but it’s just like now I found my niche. I polished it up.”

The one tragedy that will forever be linked to “Classic Mouth”

“What’s ironic about ‘Classic Mouth’ is I recorded it two years ago and we did the video like a year ago. I sent it to my boy. He’s no longer living – Daquan Westbrook, also known as Lil Donkey from my city – he was a rapper there, but I sent it to him for him to look at it cause I would always send him little video clips,” Deniro recalled. “This particular one I knew he would just vibe with. It was like a short story or film, and there’s just so much injustice going on and been going on. I just sent it to him like Bruh, check this out. He’s like ‘this [is] crazy.’ A week later, New Year’s Eve he was actually murdered by a cop in the mall in Charlotte, NC,” he added.

On meeting Denzel Curry and the connection of two of rap’s rising star MCs

“I was turned onto Denzel maybe like four or five years ago maybe. He had that track ‘Threats’ when he was at Raider Klan and I was like ‘this dude hard.’ My manager turned me on to it. He reached out to Denzel’s people. We didn’t get a response back and we did a show maybe a year and a half [or] two years after that at CMJ in New York and I only saw him once, in the ‘Threats’ video, and when I heard the song there were so many guys [on stage] I was like ‘So where’s the guy rapping the song?’ I didn’t really know what he looked like and I heard him rapping and I was like ‘Okay, this dude is dope,’ and I walked up to him after the show. I was like ‘Yo man, you dope,’ and I was like ‘I’m about to go on. I’m Deniro Farrar,’ and he was like ‘I know who you is. You’re dope. I like your music.’”

He continued: “I performed and he was like ‘Yo, this is crazy.’ I was like ‘I got a track for you. It’s called ‘Bow Down’ I already had the hook, I already had everything and really just initially wanted him to lay the ad libs. I was gonna do the full song I just wanted him on the hook and he went in there and rapped that verse and I was like ‘Where that come from?’ And we kinda built off of that and out of that came the Bow Down Tour, we was on the road for two months. So being on the road with someone every day for two months you foster this relationship and it was like this brotherhood.”

On improving his diet

“My lifestyle was like anybody else’s. I smoke and drank and ate a bunch of crap and it was just the way it was making me feel. I remember at one point in time I was smoking like a pack of cigarettes a day…I just felt so unhealthy and felt so drained. I don’t know,” noted Deniro. “One day I’m just like I’m gonna get on this healthy kick in terms of feeling better, and I think when I started to read more mentally I started to feel better and I’m like my physical has to match my mental at this point. It gives me a better performance when I perform the music and I’m able to talk about things because in my music I’m only able to rap about what’s going on in my life. So now it shaped and molded a cleaner sound cause now I can talk about cleaner living, I guess you could call it a holistic lifestyle. I couldn’t rap about that before cause I didn’t live like that. I’m not a fake guy. I don’t rap about stuff I don’t live.”

Listen to the HipHopDX premiered Mind of a Gemini here and follow Deniro on Twitter @DeniroFarrar.