Diamond D Hip-Hop legend Diamond D is back with a new album on BabyGrande. After being one of the most sought after producer and rapper in the rap game, Diamond D drop his alter ego album “The Huge Hefner”. Check out this interview as Diamond speaks on the new album, a Sadat X reunion, DITC, and legend Jazzy Jay.
By William Hernandez
WHO?MAG: What are you working on now? Diamond D: I got the album coming out. I’m just promoting that right now “The Chronicles of Huge Hefner.”
WHO?MAG: How did you hook up with Babygrande? Diamond D: I knew the owner Chuck. I knew him from when I was working with Ras Kass when I did the “Soul on Ice” remix. He used to work at Priority Records, so we just stayed in touch with each other. Finally earlier this year, we did a little joint venture; a two album deal.
WHO?MAG: What’s the whole meaning behind the name of the album? Diamond D: It’s just an extension of me, sort of like Ghostface with Tony Starke, RZA with Bobby Digital, Madlib with Quasimoto. It’s just an extension of me that’s all.
WHO?MAG: Who can we expect on the album? Diamond D: I got Sadat X on there. You know him and I have been working together forever. Some newcomers. I got an emcee named Jaws. He’s out of Atlanta down with the Dungeon Family. Another kid named Crawfish. I got Novel on the album. He sings. He’s on Capitol Records. Right now, he’s on tour with Alicia Keys. He’s about to be real big. Stacey Epps, a new female. She also sings and she’s hot. K Terror, he’s on there again. He was on my last album. Just more of the same for my fans. They already know what it is.
WHO?MAG: How did you approach producing this album? Diamond D: I only did 3 joints on this album. I got outside production on this album. I got DJ Scratch, my boy Nottz, Jesse West, Illmind, my man Def Jef. The thing was, I try to pick tracks that resemble something that I would have made myself, just to keep things sounding as one pack. I keep that sound that my fans have come to know me for, at the same time seek outside production. I didn’t want to do the whole album.
WHO?MAG: Why not? Diamond D: I just wanted to just focus on the rhymes and just fall back, sort of like the late J Dilla. People that knew Dilla knew that he had a situation at MCA records like around 2000-01. They thought he was going to do the whole album, but he was getting production from different producers. I’m just going to keep that spirit and step outside the box. Let other people take the reins. Like I said, every track that I pick sounds like something I did.
WHO?MAG: When is the next DITC album coming out? Diamond D: I don’t know. I know Lord Finesse is about to go into the studio and work on some new stuff. Show and AG got something. I know OC and AG just completed an album. Hopefully next year we can get in the studio and make it happen.
WHO?MAG: You and Sadat X have a great chemistry as a producer and emcee. Will you guys ever put out an album together? Diamond D: Thank you. Yeah, I spoken to him about doing that and that is something we want to do in the near future. Hopefully, we can get it done next year. I know Sadat was talking to DJ Spinna about something like that. I definitely told Sadat X that we need to do a whole album.
WHO?MAG: Have you ever had any sample clearance issues? Diamond D: No, not as of lately. (Laughs). In the early days, everybody stumbled and fell. I don’t want to address it because it’s not going to change anything. All you producers out there, I don’t care who it is, If a dude tell you let’s not clear the sample, get that sh*t in writing! Don’t take nobody’s word for it because at the end of the day, you might get f*cked.
WHO?MAG: How was it working with DJ Jazzy Jay? I know he was your mentor back in the days? Diamond D: Exactly. Sort of like how you would imagine. I was a little shorty wide eyed. I respected [Jazzy] Jay as a DJ. I was always into looking for records and beats. To be with somebody who was [Afrika] Bambatta’s right hand man, as you can imagine, I was just excited to be around dude. He taught me the fundamentals of production. Jay actually mixed three songs on this album. I still mess with Jazzy Jay.
WHO?MAG: Equipment-wise, what are you using right now? Diamond D: The MPC 3000 and the Yamaha Motif.
WHO?MAG: How do you approach producing a track? Diamond D: Alright; good question. Lately what I do is get my sounds together, whether they’re samples or recreated, I get all my sounds together. Once I draw up a pattern of sounds and samples, I listen to that with no drums, just the sounds. That dictates the drum programming. Once I lay my drums down, I layer everything: strings, bass, whatever the tracks needs. Basically, that’s how I start off. I just have my sounds and put that together. I used to do the drums first and then put the sounds on top of it. I found out when I do it the other way, it just sounds more natural.
WHO?MAG: Who are some of your influences as a producer? Diamond D: Oh wow! Of course Jazzy Jay. In the late 80’s, of course, the Bomb Squad. They did all the Public Enemy stuff, Hank Shocklee, Keith Shocklee, and Erick Sadler. Marley Marl of course, Prince Paul, Tribe Called Quest, The Jungle Brothers’ first two albums. It was real creative back then. A lot of people want those type of albums to come back. What I tell the fans is it would cost so much money to make those kind of albums right now. We would get drums from this record, a baseline from this record, maybe an organ from this record, a horn from that record. The trick was to find all of those pieces in the same key. When a lot of people heard these originals that we were using, they thought that all the samples came from one record. That was the beauty of it. With the sample costs right now, it would be very expensive to make those kind of albums now.
WHO?MAG: Have you sampled any original artist came back to you saying they loved it? Diamond D: David Axelrod! He’s a genius. All the beatheads I’m sure all y’all know about David. He gave me a big compliment on the way I did the Ras Kass remix to “Soul on Ice”. I flew out to LA he invited me over to meet him. I didn’t get a chance to hook up with him, but he definitely reached out to me and told me he definitely liked what I did with his work.
WHO?MAG: How did you hook up with Ras Kass for the remix? Diamond D: He reached out to me. Priority reached out to me and asked if I would mix the record. I said let me listen to it first and I liked his rhymes so I went out and did it.
WHO?MAG: How did you hook up with ADOR? Diamond D: My man K Terror and ADOR were cool. He brought ADOR around. I played a few things for ADOR. I wound up doing 2 joints on his album when he was on his second album on Atlantic. I also did 2 more joints for that project he had with Navarre Record’s “Signature of the Ill”. ADOR is a good dude. I haven’t seen him in a minute.
WHO?MAG: I heard through my friend Donald D [Rhyme Syndicate member] that Chilly D was an original DITC member? Diamond D: Yeah, Chilly the dark skin dude! The Chilly D I know was a DJ for Donald D. He’s been in DITC before there was a DITC. He’s official. I think I brought him around everybody. I met him playing basketball. That was a long time ago.
WHO?MAG: What advice to do give to up and coming producers? Diamond D: In this Protools age, if you’re submitting beats over the internet, try to have your voice shot out. Try and have to occur every seven or eight seconds. This way if somebody try’s to take your beat, when they put it on their mixtape, they can hear that in the background. (Laughs). It’s a messed up game now. Even though you submit beats, cats will tell you they didn’t hear anything they liked. Then a few months later, you’ll hear your stuff on a mixtape. It didn’t happen to me, but it is happening to dudes. Everybody just has to be careful.