Diamond D’s “Stunts, Blunts & Hip Hop” Is A Hip-Hop Classic That Still Burns Strong
Today (September 22) marks 25 years since the release of Diamond D’s landmark debut album Stunts, Blunts & Hip Hop. In this era when the MC/producers like J. Cole, Kanye West, and Logic are celebrated among music’s biggest stars, this silver anniversary is significant to their career as commercially viable artists transcending the realm of Hip-Hop.
“Of course, I paved the way for the producer/MC,” Diamond stated to Ambrosia For Heads. Released on Mercury Records on this day in 1992, Stunts, Blunts & Hip Hop came in the flock of several classic Rap albums during arguably the genre’s most pivotal year during the early ’90s.
Among the smorgasbord of featured guests on Stunts… including Brand Nubian, it was the first time that Hip-Hop LP consumers heard Fat Joe, Fatman Scoop, and among the initial platforms for Diamond’s Diggin’ In the Crates crew brother Big L.
As a native of Hip-Hop’s birthplace, The Bronx, the (would-be) Grammy-winning producer’s tutelage began under legendary Universal Zulu Nation’s DJ Jazzy Jay. His rich musical education of Blues, Electronica, Funk, Folk, Jazz, Reggae, R&B, Rock & Roll, and Soul contributed to his intricate DJ abilities and savant knowledge of records. The LP began in Jay’s studio.
Also, as a former member of late ’80s Bronx collective Ultimate Force, Diamond paid dues for several years in the music business. D further explained his early career as a freelance producer who was signed by a matter of fate. “I was signed to PWL Records while shopping beats for another artist they were looking to sign.” The Force was inked to Jay’s Strong City imprint, also a home to Tribe/Brand Nu’ affiliate Skeff Anselm.
After that short stint on PWL, Flavor Unit founder The 45 King helped Diamond get a deal (via late Rap industry executive Francesca Spero) with Russell Simmons’ Rush Producers Management. D’s years of hard work to get his production heard prepared him to become Rap’s “best-kept secret” by the summer of 1992. His album’s first single released on August 18. The video for the single was directed by David Perez on a basketball court in Midtown Manhattan’s West 33rd Street & 2nd Avenue. The’s song lyrics had nothing to do with basketball, yet an appearance from late New York Knicks great Anthony Mason upped the stock of the video’s profile during one of the team’s most storied eras in the NBA.
The album is the sole crediting of “Diamond D & The Psychotic Neurotics,” not the creatives from Diamond’s D.I.T.C. crew. The Neurotics were Diamond’s friends Wiz 1, SureShot, Shaease, Lee Dancer, and DJ KX. It boasted dusty break-beats derived from Diamond’s record collection, journeys of life in the streets, weed culture, braggadocio raps, snapping, and stories about meeting libidinous women or “stunts.” It even sampled a bunch of screaming children from a kindergarten class in Diamond’s Forest elementary school in The Bronx for the chorus on the album’s song “Red Light, Green Light.”
Perhaps the most heartfelt song on the album is second single “Sally Got A One Track Mind.” It’s about a young promiscuous woman out to sleep with men for their money. The black-and-white visual of the song matched the somber tone of the moody acoustic Jazz bass sample loop, hard snare kicks, and melancholic keyboard chords.
The album’s third and final single was the “*!*! What U Heard,” which sampled an excerpt of Sadat X of Brand Nubian’s lyrics from the Diamond D-produced song “Show Business” on A Tribe Called Quest’s album The Low End Theory. The beat to D’s track had another groovy acoustic Jazz bass sample loop along with Baby Huey’s 1971 cut “Hard Times.”
Stunts, Blunts & Hip Hop is a masterpiece that stands the test of time in all eras of Hip-Hop. It’s a page in Rap history that all MC/producers can learn from, by “the best producer on the mic.”
#BonusBeat Check out this sample mix by VinRican dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Stunts, Blunts & Hip Hop:
It contains original samples with the songs on the album.