Diamond’s New Gold
It’s been 22 years since the ‘best kept secret’ Diamond D released the certified classic Stunts, Blunts & Hip Hop. The unofficial, unsung, and un-notarized blueprint manual for how to produce and spit on your own record came out of nowhere in the end of 1992. Ironically enough, that original vinyl currently goes for well over $500 around the world. Now, in 2014, Diamond drops the long awaited album entitled The Diam Piece. This is the third release under his independent label, Dymond Mine Records. The limited distributed but critically acclaimed Grown Man Talk LP hit the web and streets in 2003. Shortly after in 2005, he released Diamond Presents: The Diamond Mine, an official full-length mixtape album featuring the late J Dilla, Fat Joe, The Alchemist, Xzibit, Nottz, DJ Mark the 45 King, Sadat X and Grand Puba.
Following up the multi-producer influenced LP, The Huge Hefner Chronicles (Baby Grande Records) in 2008, The Diam Piece, is widely exemplary of the golden-era vibe that earned the super-producer, emcee, and DJ credit for some of the most influential, landmark albums in hip hop. Names that come to mind include A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes, Fugees, Outkast, Mos Def, Pharoahe Monch, Big L, KRS One, Fat Joe, Queen Latifah, Brand Nubian, The Pharcyde, Tha Alkoholiks, and many more.
The self proclaimed “best producer on the mic” was a huge influence to several artists, aka ‘your favorite producer’s favorite producer’, such as Kanye West and J Dilla.
“We’re trying to be like Pete Rock and Diamond D, cats who are equally passionate for the beats and the rhymes.” Jay Dee – Urb Magazine
“Diamond D been doing soul samples since a long time ago. I’m just trying to bring that style back.” – Kanye West – The Source
“Diamond D’s —and cats from that feather who later influenced the Buckwilds and the Jay Swifts and the No ID’s and the like of the production world) that shit (meaning the initial Groove Merchant production way of life) was like gold mining in the wild wild west in the early 1800s. It was an empty marketplace and the coast was clear…” – Questlove
A recent XXL review wrote, “The Diam Piece is nothing new. In fact, it is a blast from the past, when compilations reigned supreme. Listening to this album brought back memories of SoundBombing or Lyricist Lounge, the presentation of thought out lyrics and accompanying backdrops works.” –XXL
“You know, it means a lot to still be relevant after 20 years”. Diamond says about the XXL review. Double XL gave me an XL. That’s pretty good. Whoever that writer is, they get it.”
Instantly, upon listening to the album, it felt like stepping into a studio session in the late 90’s, reminiscent of the weed smoke, blunt guts, Hennessey and Heineken bottles strewn about in disarray. A musical room full of eager, talented artists sprinkled amongst a colorful entourage of characters that are simply trying to catch a glimpse – or be involved with the next musical movement. The studio scene isn’t that much different today, apart from the advent of Pro Tools and other digital home studio plug-ins that are accessible for all. Despite any certain terms, it’s a had to be there kind of moment. Diamond captures that moment beautifully with this nostalgic record.
Since the days of Master Rob and Ultimate Force on Jazzy Jay’s Strong City label in the late 80’s, Diamond has always known how to match up beats and emcees with ease. Demonstrated throughout this solid studio album full of east and west coast greats, Diamond is a Hitchcock-type master of gritty street synopsis and clever wordplay that feels authentic. His lyrics reminds us of his hardcore Bronx roots with the only solo gems “Jose Feliciano” and the DJ Scratch produced “Superman.” Pharoahe Monch sets it off with D on the “Rap Life”, bragging about the salacious rewards of hip hop. The Pharcyde makes an appearance on the chilled-out “Hard Days.” Kurupt and Tha Alkoholiks come together on “We Are The People Of The World.” Scram Jones makes it known on “I Ain’t The One To Fuc Wit”, while Talib Kweli, Elzhi and Skyzoo want to know “Where’s The Love?” Pete Rock and Diamond collaborate effortlessly on the smooth Akon flavored “Only Way 2 Go,” just as fitting as Fat Joe, Black Rob, AG, Chino XL, Chi Ali, Freddie Foxx, Kev Brown, Ras Kass, Guilty Simpson, Masta Ace, Alchemist and Evidence make up the list of cohesive guest features on The Diam Piece.
Joints like “Handz Up” and “Pump Ya Breaks” seem timely during this controversial time of reckless violence and brutality. “Pump Ya Breaks”, is an ode to female strength and empowerment, featuring Rapsody, Boog Brown and Stacy Epps. “Handz Up” featuring Hi-Tek is a hard bouncing track, turned up with the infectious live group hook shouting “Handz Up!”
Grand Daddy IU sums it up best in “The Game” stating simply, “Diamond D is the Dre of the east.” True. Diamond D, an unsung Godfather of hip hop returns with an All-Star line up of new and iconic golden-era artists, reminding us of what’s missing in music. The Diam Piece, synonymous with a “Dime Piece”, suggests a perfect ten in caliber. As far as real hip hop goes, it’s on point.