After releasing his Troubles Of The World single “We On” featuring Lupe Fiasco in 2007 and crafting The Testimony Of Gemstones the following year, Demarco “Gemstones” Castle decided to leave the Lupe Fiasco’s 1st & 15th imprint to focus on his faith. The incarceration of 1st & 15th CEO Charles “Chilly” Patton and death of his close friend Reginald “St. Nic” Coleman impacted him and was part of the reason he went in a different direction.
In 2010, Gemstones, who wrote, produced and appeared on parts of Fiasco’s critically acclaimed albums Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor (2006) and Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool (2007), returned to rap with an independent release titled On The Road To Glory: My Story. In 2012, the DXnext alum dropped his Elephant In The Room mixtape.
After years of not collaborating with Lupe, Gemstones says business had something to do with why they are doing their own thing. He says their friendship went beyond music.
“Yo, 1st & 15th really shaped me,” Gemstones says during an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. “It was what a really dope basketball camp is for a basketball player. That’s what 1st & 15th was for me. It was like playing with the greats. From the producers, to the engineers, the rappers and every aspect of music that I got to experience while on that company helped me. It helped me evolve. I was able to sharpen my craft while I was there. 1st & 15th helped me become a dope emcee. It helped me think outside the box and it helped me to dare to be different. Lupe and I were really good friends, you know, but for business reasons and whatever, he is doing his thing now and I am doing my thing. I would love to work with Lupe again. We are going to work together again. I know we are. Our chemistry was just crazy, but sometimes people have to go their separate ways just to come back around.
"I would love to work with Lupe again,” Gemstones continues. "I know he would love to work with me. That’s my brother, man. We rarely even talked about music. We did music because that’s the profession we were in, but we are brothers. Lupe would pick me up every day. We would ride around, go eat, talk about UFOs, the government, how the world would be in the future and the things people were afraid to speak on record. It was like, ‘Where do you think the world is going to be in 20 years?’ We spoke on that. He is Muslim and I’m Christian, but we didn’t look down on each other. It was all love. We spoke on religion. We would be like, ‘Do you think you’re serving the right God?’ ‘How do you know the God you’re serving is the right one, Stones?’ Our conversations and chemistry was off the chain. Time heals all wounds. We’ll be working together soon.”
Gemstones Changes The Direction Of His Music
When Gemstones released his On The Road To Glory: My Story project, it was clear that the message he was spitting was not the same one found in his older songs. The former 1st & 15th artist revealed how the change came about.
“The other kind of music I was making was because that’s what I grew up hearing,” says Gemstones, who used to be known as Gemini. “The lifestyle that I was writing about, I wasn’t really living it. I was only putting words together because they matched and I could spit or sing something to the older gangsters on the block, and they were blown away by the verses and I was cool with that. At the time, I couldn’t see pass the big gold chain and the Benz, growing up and coming where I’m from [Southside of Chicago]. I just wanted to make it out the hood, even if it meant talking about degrading women, talking about shooting, kicking in the door and selling drugs. It was only until I got older and then experienced more in life, when I was like, ‘Yo this isn’t cool.’ I always had God deep inside of me, tugging on me and saying, ‘You got to change the way your living.’ I wasn’t killing anybody, but I wasn’t living the way that I knew I should be. So my old approach to music began to get old. It wasn’t until my best friend passed away that I was like, ‘Ok, my best friend is gone.’ That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was finished and didn't want to talk about the things I was talking about. I apologized to the world for misleading so many people. It was just a facade that I was putting up to sell records. I was done with the old and this is the real me. So I switched my message up, bro."
Gemstones Working On His AFTER Mixtape
The Windy City rapper is working on his AFTER mixtape, which is slated to include instrumentals by Grammy award-winning producer J.R (Lecrae’s Gravity). The project is slated to be released through XIST MUSIC, the former home of Grammy-nominated emcees Da’ T.R.U.T.H. and The Ambassador and the current home of MOBO award winner Jahaziel. Gemstones believes that his forthcoming project will show other rappers how things should be done.
"I’m going to get on Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar and Big Sean beats and dance around all these beats again,” he says. "I’m going to show them how to body a record. I hear some of these verses and I’m like, ‘Cute.’ I’m about to show these dudes how to body a record to the point where no rapper can come behind you. There are a few records I want to put on here to have some fun. The main event will be my album though. It’s called Blind Elephant. It’s going to drop sometime in the future. I have to say that Blind Elephant is my best work ever. I’m going all the way in. It’s like Elephant In The Room on steroids. I’m making sure the bar is set so high when this album is released. I will humbly say this: I don’t hear anything out that is competing with Blind Elephant. I’m talking on subjects that people are afraid to touch on. It’s only because these kids are influenced by this music that’s being made. These teenagers are getting influenced by this bogus and negative music. So I’m going to give them something real.”