Diamond D Reveals He Was With Tupac the Night He Shot Two Cops; Recaps His Entire Career
The Combat Jack Show, fresh off of a groundbreaking interview with DJ Kool Herc, stays in the Bronx, New York mind-state, to interview Diamond D. Traditionally, the Diggin’ In The Crates co-founder, onetime pupil to DJ Jazzy Jay, and mentor to Fat Joe is not that chatty. However, just like Herc, the DJ/producer/MC opens up to Reggie Ossé, showing years of rapport.
Although Diamond’s just months into his release of The Diam Piece, Combat spends the bulk of the time looking back, into a history rarely told so extensively.
(9:00) Diamond explains transitioning from a DJ in Ultimate Force to producing extensively on Lord Finesse & DJ Mike Smooth’s The Funky Technician, alongside Showbiz and DJ Premier. Amidst the chatter, D recalls being signed to Jazzy Jay (Afrika Bambaataa’s longtime musical right-hand and pioneering Def Jam producer) on Strong City Records. Not a well-known label, Diamond and Combat recall that Strong City was home to Chief Rocka Busy Bee as well as Masters Of Ceremony, in addition to D’s first group. Moving into the formation of D.I.T.C., Diamond recounts A.G. and Lord Finesse battling at Clinton High School, and expounds on why he never produced on Big L’s Lifestylez ov da Poor and Dangerous.
(13:00) Speaking about those early Lord Finesse days, Diamond explains that Wild Pitch Records (Gang Starr, Lord Finesse, Main Source) founder Stu Fine was paying him $500 a track. With five tracks sold back in 1990, the Westbury College drop-out (a business management major), copped two Technics 1200s from J&R Music World, and got to work. The rest is…history.
(26:00) A major showcase of Diamond’s rap skills, impeccable lyrical timing, and wit came courtesy of 1991’s A Tribe Called Quest album, The Low End Theory. Appearing on “Show Business,” D says he was merely in the right place at the right time, and Brand Nubian/Masters Of Ceremony’s Grand Puba was not. “Tip knew I had an album comin’ out. I played him a few joints, he was feelin’ it,” the man born Joseph Kirkland recalls, and says A.T.C.Q. handed him the mic. Later on, Diamond (who is working on a full album with Sadat X) really asserts Puba’s production skills, noting that the New Rochelle, New Yorker laid a bulk of 1990’s One For All LP.
(32:00) As Combat Jack plays through the joints, Diamond admits that his production on Showbiz & A.G.’s “Soul Clap” was highly influenced by Bomb Squad and Public Enemy.
(38:00) Joe recalls “discovering” Fat Joe, and understands why some Heads were resistant to Joe’s rigid, simpler delivery of the early 1990s. Diamond notes that Joe is “Quick in the studio.”
(40:00) A lengthy discussion ensues around Diamond D’s magnum opus, 1992’s Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop. In the discussion, Diamond recalls how Anthony Mason ended up in the video to “Best Kept Secret.” He also takes credit for being a pioneer of taking 33 1/3 RPM records, flipping them to 45, and then sampling to further disguise his sonic sources.
(54:00) Noting that by the early ’90s, through Violator Management, he was grabbing $15,000 per track, Diamond D explains why an agreed-upon classic album only sold 300,000 copies, and “the best producer on the mic” is often not considered “the best MC behind the boards.” “Lookin’ back, I should’ve taken it a lil’ more seriously,” he says of rapping. Later, he maintains that Stunts, Blunts… is not a solo LP. “It’s not a Diamond D album,” says the now Atlanta, Georgia-based talent. “Everybody had dancers. Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap had dancers; I had dancers too.” Finally revealing who the “Psychotic Neurotics” were, Diamond says it’s Lee and Jigga. DJ KX, and hype-man, Whiz One. Premium Pete asks about the relationship with D and these figures today.
(1:04:00) Leading to the finale of the episode, Combat plays a series of Diamond D productions. Brand Nubian’s “Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down” (which Jack asserts may have saved Brand Nubian’s sophomore album) causes a major moment in the studio, as the three remember a “crime city” era of New York City, 64 ounce of Private Stock beer, and train robberies induced/chronicled by the Brand Nu hit (sans Puba). Diamond notes, “It’s ’93, I should be out promoting Stunts Blunts, but I’m where I wanna be, in studios makin’ beats.” Songs for The Fugees, Mos Def, and mention of a Too Short and Jay Z record follow.
(1:21:00) Notably, Diamond D reveals that he was intended to work on 2Pac’s Me Against The World. ‘Pac flew Diamond D to Atlanta, Georgia in 1994, where he recalls watching the Thug Life MC get into a shooting altercation with two white police officers, after watching them harass a young Black male in a hotel lobby. The story is wild, as is the thought that the sample-driven producer was in ‘Pac’s circle during both’s perceived creative pinnacles.
For lovers of beats, rhymes, unders-ung heroes, and great Hip-Hop, just press play.