By Ermira Babamusta, New York, Prishtina /
Versatile, visionary, musically genius Gem Belushi is changing the face of hip hop as we know it today. Gem Belushi’s rap is credited as being an originally East Coast phenomenon by shaping hip hop culture with his own genre, the “EU Movement” rap. Bringing in a fresh European perspective to American hip hop, Gem Belushi has taken music from the streets to discovering new talents and bringing them on the main stage.
“As an artist I feel that real hip hop, real music is what’s lacking today. Real stories that people can relate to is what makes hip hop live longer. No matter what your story is there is someone that can relate to the song. It is up to the artist to make it presentable and appeal to the masses,” said the talented rapper and CEO of Eagles Up Entertainment (EU), Gem Belushi.
Gem Belushi aka Gem Belu is a successful Albanian-American artist living in Stamford. He has over 10 years experience in the music business and has also started his own record label (EU). The Connecticut-born rapper, Gem Belushi has claimed his space and dominated New York’s hip-hop scene since the early 2000s. His music makes hip hop culture relevant, fresh and moving forward. Gem is too rich with creativity to be limited to the regional New York hip hop culture. He brings a totally fresh new European perceptive and sophisticated lyricism that is changing the American hip hop experience. His European influence on NY rap is re-writing history. It’s about the explored intelligence in his original creative rhymes that demonstrate Gem’s ability to influence others and teach the rest how to do it. Eagles Up started a completely new hip hop movement that pushes ‘conscious’ rap. People like to hear Eagles Up music because it makes them feel good and they can resonate with the story told in the songs.
Early Beginnings in Music
From a very young age, Gem Belushi loved music. At age 5, Gem made his first acapella song, together with his brother, rapping: “now here’s Georgie with his fat rap”.
“My family is very supportive. When I first performed in front of grandpa it was the best feeling. My family knows who I am as an artist and they like to see me do shows,”added Gem.
From age 11-15 Gem Belushi started experimenting with music by making beats and producing music for his friends in high school. Ever since Gem Belushi has encouraged and endorsed various artists and has created their albums.
“Early on in high school I would produce beats for others. In freshman year I noticed that I liked myself better on my beats. I knew what to do so I would create songs. I became an artist with my own instrumentals. Who better to rap on the beat than the person who made the beat? So I ended up rapping,” said Gem Belushi.
Gem’s talent was first discovered with the superhit “No Sir No Sir” song, released in 2005, a wake up call for the Kosovar situation in response to the Serbian crimes and propaganda. Over 1000 of crazed fans turned up at Webster Hall in Manhattan to listen to his live performance of “No Sir No Sir” in December 2006.
In 2005 Gem Belushi founded his own record label Eagles Up Entertainment (EU) in Stamford, Connecticut (www.eugang.com). With the release of “Put Your Eagles Up” and “No Sir No Sir” this indie label has dominated East Coast and Europe. Over the years, Gem Belushi rose to prominence as an accomplished rapper, creative producer, visionary entrepreneur and founder of his own rap styles.
Career Successes: Gem Belushi Rap and East Coast Hip Hop
Gem Belushi released his debut album called “King and Ace” in 2005, written and produced by Gem Belushi (Eagles Up) and Kash Dash, featuring Leo Luck. “King and Ace” was an outlet and a voice of the hip hop culture reflecting on the social realities. The album introduced a new sound, new artist, new vision and a new generation of music. This is the foundation era where Gem was creating his artist identity and his art form at the same time. Gem Belushi’s rap reflected on inner-city youth life and problems. It was defined by four key elements: quality, innovation, diversity and influence. By mid 2000s Gem Belushi’s releases began to establish undergroup music to mainstream. His next album became an immediate success.
In 2007 Gem Belushi released an untitled album, produced by the famous artist and producer Presioni of Illyrian Records. He was featured in Presioni’s musicvideo “Taking Over”,featuring Presioni, Jetoni, Leo Luck and Gem Belushi. The music video was directed by Artan Korenica and produced by Presioni (Illyrian Records). The video was a hit on major TV channels in Kosova and New York. The song became #1 hit on top radio charts. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbm1FHlqnBI)
Eagles Up Movement and European-American Hip Hop
During late 2000s Gem Belushi’s rap period is noted for its innovation. In 2008 Gem Belushi released a new album called “Suicide Kingz”. The album featured some of the best hip hop artists, namely Kash Dash, Leo Luck and Noizy and it was produced by Gem Belushi’s record label, Eagles Up Entertainment. “Suicide Kings is a Leo Luck vision. Leo envisioned the album as a darker album with gritty beats,”said the accomplished rapper and producer Gem Belushi.
“Hard to Say Goodbye”music video was released in 2008, as a feature from the “Suicide Kings” album. The video featured Gem and Leo Luck. It was directed by Gem Belushi and it featured a collage of old videos and old footage.
By the end of 2000s New York experienced a heavy influence of EU rap. The Eagles Up Movement was brought on by cultural shift particularly as Kosova gained its independence in 2008 and more Albanian immigrants moved to New York City. Gem Belushi has produced albums influenced heavily by his Albanian-European roots.
“My music style by the end of 2000s brought a whole new genre. Belushi comes to light with new music –EU rap. The Eagles Up movement represents my new style. It’s like a movie portraying more of what I see from my environment, what I have been around and what I have been through. Like the story of the three kings, it has a vision, it tells a story. It is nostalgic. It takes you away from everyday life. My style is narrative – 1st person perspective narrating to paint the picture of life. This is a new sound that no body has. When people listen to Belushi they think he’s a mix-breed and not American-Albanian,” said the visionary Gem Belushi.
“I write my own lyrics. People can relate to someone who has gone through what I am talking about. Everything I rap about is about Albanians – pretty deep on streets, not afraid of police, the story about European immigrants in US. People get a sense of a new age of hip hop, a new flow. What makes EU rap different is the Belushi vision from an American-European perspective, that has not been shown in hip hop,” added the great Gem Belushi.
In 2009 Gem Belulshi released a new mixtape called “Psycho Active” featuring 27 songs. This album has more of a freestyle flow, with bonus songs, free style and the best of Gem Belushi. The music video “Go Fish”featuring Leo Luck and Gem Belushi was produced by Eagles Up Entertainment.
In 2010 Gem Belushi started to write his next album “Fast Life” which he later renamed “Money Out The Belu” (M.O.T.B.). This album is dedicated to his childhood friend Kushtrim Elezaj who passed away. “Kushtrim Elezaj was the greatest person and very influential to my city. Anybody from my city would say he was there best friend. That’s why everyone in my city loved him. Leo, Kushtrim and Kash that was a really tight crew,” said Gem Belushi.
“In 2010 I recorded “Fast Life” dedicated to Kushtrim. I have been retouching this project for the past three years. The album turned to “Money out the Belu”, a whole new album, with new music. I picked different songs that talk about street life and I took my time to record more songs. It hasn’t been released yet. I plan to release it in 2013,”stated Gem Belushi.
Even Greater Success
The influence of Eagles Up hip hop continued its way to success. In June 2012 Eagles Up teamed up with the award winning artist Marty Magz. Bringing in his regional influences from Detroit, Michigan, Marty Magz (Martin Berishaj) added to the diversity of the EU Rap.
In late 2012 Gem Belushi and Marty Magz released “Not Adding Up” music video, a feature from the “Go Fk Ya Self” mixtape that EU plans to release for free on www.DatPiff.com. The song is written by Gem Belushi and Marty. The non official video was released on august 2012, and the official video is set to shoot on march 9th, 2013 (www.youtube.com/watch?v=8M4shBx1JTU). With the release of this song EU became an international sensation. “Not Adding Up” reinvented American hip hop to absorb the European influences and regional American styles. Eagles Up, a movement that started in Connecticut, grew in New York, in 2012 it launched the global movement.
Gem Belushi and Marty Magz had the debut of “Not Adding Up” superhit at Eminem’s Shade 45 Radio station, with host Miss Mimi and Dj. Black. The song and the video were a mainstream success. EU music appeals to listeners of all ages, and spans different genres.
“I do this for the love and passion in music, not for the fame. Young kids look up to us. There is no better feeling then to influence the next generation and be a positive influence for them,” said Gem Belushi.