Diamond D: Return to the Classics

For someone whose career is approaching the two decade mark, Diamond D is still Hip-Hop’s best kept secret. Starting as a DJ for Jazzy Jay back in ’86, the legendary producer and MC has had, arguably, one of the longest careers in the game. One can hear the relentless producer’s beats on over 20 official […]

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For someone whose career is approaching the two decade mark, Diamond D is still Hip-Hop’s best kept secret. Starting as a DJ for Jazzy Jay back in ’86, the legendary producer and MC has had, arguably, one of the longest careers in the game. One can hear the relentless producer’s beats on over 20 official remixes, and roughly 100 full length albums, including Hip-Hop classics such as A Tribe Called Quest’s Low End Theory and The Score, the Grammy award-winning album by The Fugees. Let’s not neglect to mention his solo career, which jumped off in 1992 with the unforgettable Stunts, Blunts & Hip Hop and continuing to this day with the upcoming Huge Hefner album. And as one of the most consistently braggadocious producers to rip a mic, Diamond D sounds as hungry as he ever did on his most recent mixtape, The Diamond Mine. In between producing new joints for Natalie Cole and finding new producers to inspire him, Diamond D found some time to get at AllHipHop.com and let the people know he’s still one of the best producers spitting, with tracks for sale. But don’t holler at him until you’ve got your bars up and your money right. AllHipHop.com: What’s good with the Huge Hefner LP? Why the title? Diamond D: It’s just a play on words for my love of women and the muscle in my pants. [Laughs] AllHipHop.com: You’ve got a “who’s who” list of producers contributing to the project. Is this going to be a show and prove project for you, production wise, or is it just some ol’ cool s**t that you wanted to do and put out there for the fans?Diamond D: For this album, I reached out to producers whose work I respected. And all the tracks I picked sound like some s**t I would have done anyway, so it’s all love. It also gave me a little breathing room to focus on rhymes, ‘cause I still feel I’m one of the best producers spittin’. Period. AllHipHop.com: Can the people expect a classic vibe, or a revamped Diamond D sound, on this album? Diamond D: Yeah, I’m callin’ my sound “brand new retro.” Once you listen to it, it’s self-explanatory. AllHipHop.com: And on the same note, with the renaissance of Hip-Hop, do you feel that you could ever recreate the mind-state, innocence and artistic freedom of Stunts, Blunts & Hip Hop again? Diamond D: Innocence and artistic freedom of Stunts n’ Blunts again? Man, muthaf**kass are too hard body to talk about relationships or just about hangin’ out with your crew, paintin’ the town red. That s**t don’t make you soft, it just shows your dimensions. But everyone is caught-up on some tough guy s**t. So it’s whatever. AllHipHop.com: After 17 years, the Ultimate Force album, with you and MC Master Rob, has finally been released. What was holding it back, and have you and Rob been in contact since? Diamond D: It felt good seeing the Ultimate Force album come to light. What was holdin’ it back? Ask Jazzy Jay, he’d know since he owns the masters. [But] no love lost. Me and Jay are still very cool; he’s the teacher. And yes, me and Rob have been in contact for a few years. AllHipHop.com: It seems like much of the work you’ve done is only now seeing the light of day, like the work you did with the late Scientifik. You guys worked on his album in ’96, but it just came out a couple of years ago. How did you get to know Scientifik? Diamond D: I met Scientifik in the early ‘90s, when he was rollin’ with Ed O.G. & Da Bulldogs. He had a deal with the same label that I was on. [He] liked my work and reached out to me to work on his album that was released shortly after. Then I didn’t see dude again until about four years later. He said he was in Brooklyn at a party and someone slipped him a dust joint. That led to him doing some other crazy s**t, and he wound up on Rikers Island for a year. He said he couldn’t afford my regular price, but he had $8,000 in cash on him and told me to take it as half the payment for two tracks. Fast-forward two years later, we picked up working again. He was looking to buy a condo in New Jersey. Sometimes he would come down and stay with me for a few days and work. From what I knew about him, he had one foot in the streets and one foot in the studio like a lot of n***as. Overall, he was a good dude. AllHipHop.com: You’re known as the “Best Kept Secret,” but these last few years you’ve really been keeping yourself off the scene. What have you been up to? Diamond D: Lately, I’ve worked with Natalie Cole, Dallas Austin, Sadat X, Sy Scott, Novel, Percee P, and just focusing on my new album. Plus, I don’t want to work with no fake ass artists. There are a few artists that I’ve played some heat for and they straight told me that it sounds too Hip-Hop. What the f**k does that mean? Does that mean if it contains a sample, it’s too Hip-Hop? Well guess what, a lot of Southern artists sample. There’s a song with UGK, featuring Andre 3000 (“International Player’s Anthem”), and the sample is tight under the drum programming. They didn’t give a f**k if there was a sample in it, as long as it was hot. AllHipHop.com: On the track “Words R Not Enuff,” it seems like you’re pretty cynical about not only the industry, but relationships and friendship in general. Diamond D: On my track, I’m just talking about certain situations where there’s no action behind the words being said or promised to you. AllHipHop.com: The only artist’s album you’ve contributed to in the past couple of years is Sadat X; before that it was Boston MCs Edo. G and Akrobatik. Is that more a friendship thing, or are you still available to work with other artists? Diamond D: Yeah, dudes can get at me at myspace.com/therealdiamondd. Serious inquiries only, and don’t beat me in the head about how you’re broke and I should do it for the Hip-Hop [family]. Check my history, I have put n***as on and paid my dues to Hip-Hop. AllHipHop.com: Have you spoken with Sadat since he was locked up? How is he doing? Diamond D: Yes, me and Sadat have written each other since his incarceration. He’s holding his head up and writing. AllHipHop.com: A lot of your work has ‘resurfaced’ through other producers in recent years, like DJ Scratch doing “New York S**t.” What did you think of that Busta Rhymes joint? Why didn’t he approach you for it? Diamond D: I thought what Scratch did was hot. I don’t know why Busta didn’t approach me with it, since I’ve produced four joints for him. Still, he gave me a shout on the record so love is love. AllHipHop.com: Do you think that [songs like that] help school the younger generation on pioneers like yourself? Diamond D: It definitely helps younger kids get schooled on producers like me, and others who were instrumental for chopping up rare and hard to find records. AllHipHop.com: Are the kids recognizing you in the Bronx, or just the older cats? Diamond D: Yes, I get recognized by young and old heads. [Laughs] AllHipHop.com: Your vinyl collection was already pretty legendary a decade ago. It must be ridiculous at this point. Diamond D: I don’t know how many records I have…just two rooms full. I go in, snatch a bunch up and f**k with those for that week in the studio. AllHipHop.com: You know we have to ask what’s going on with D.I.T.C. right now. Each year there’s talk of an album, but what’s really holding it back? Diamond D: I don’t know what the hold up is. You’d have to ask each member. AllHipHop.com: You talk with Finesse lately? Diamond D: I speak with Finesse often. He’s the unofficial epicenter of D.I.T.C. AllHipHop.com: Is he ever going to make a comeback album? Diamond D: He said he needs to be inspired to make another LP, and the current state [of Hip-Hop] isn’t doing it for him right now. AllHipHop.com: You’ve already gotten a Grammy for the work you did with The Fugees. Have you had success with producing for artists outside the rap world, like Natalie Cole? Diamond D: It’s a good thing to step outside of your space from time to time. I enjoyed working with Natalie, she has two of my tracks right now that she’s kind of excited about. So I’m just waitin’. AllHipHop.com: You’ve produced on so many classic albums throughout the ‘90s, but is there one track or project in particular that you feel was just the pinnacle of your career? A track that you can still listen to today and it feels like the first time? Diamond D: “Do The Bus A Bus (remix)” on the Violator 1 LP. One of my all time favorites. AllHipHop.com: On a similar note, is there a track you’ve heard in the last few years that, as a producer, you thought was dope? Diamond D: There are a lot. There’s a new producer from Atlanta called Brainstorm. He’s on my new album and he’s sick. Also, Cook from California, Soul Professor, Mr. Brady and The Cornel West Theory; all new producers with fire. AllHipHop.com: A.G. has been doing shows in Europe. Any plans for you to hit the road for some live performances again? Diamond D: Yes, I plan to tour extensively for the new Huge Hefner LP, domestically and abroad. I still do spot dates, so promoters [can] hit me up on MySpace and we’ll get it crackin’ on some Hip-Hop s**t. I got an ill little 45 minute set, so scream at ya frog. AllHipHop.com: What’s one of your most interesting tour stories? Diamond D: Funniest tour moment [was] the Mercury Records College Tour. Dougie D, from [Los Angeles], kept f****n with this group from North Carolina for the whole tour. I mean, it was three of them and one Doug, but he would just f### with these dudes all damn day. One day, somewhere in the South or Midwest, Doug got his hands on one of these dudes’ underwear. It had s**t streaks all in them, and this n***a Doug was runnin’ up and down the hotel hallway with these [underwear] in the air, screaming “Which one of u nasty n****s’ draws are these?” At that point, them three should have given Doug a quick beating, but still nothing. I left the group’s name out ‘cause it was a long time ago, but if ya’ll are reading this, ya’ll should’ve put the love on Doug, right there on the bus, one good time.