Sounds Visual Radio
Sounds Visual Radio
Episode 114: Diamond D

Veteran hip-hop producer Diamond D has helped out with several of rap music’s most acclaimed LPs, including an early guest appearance on A Tribe Called Quest’s “Show Business” (from The Low End Theory) and the Fugees’ The Score. In 1992, he recorded his first solo album, the underground classic Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop (which was released as by Diamond & the Psychotic Neurotics). Although it never sold very many copies, it increased his status, and he worked with Illegal, House of Pain, KRS-One, and the Pharcyde during the mid-’90s. A host of top-flight rappers returned the favor for his sophomore album, Hatred, Passion & Infidelity, including Busta Rhymes, Phife Dawg (A Tribe Called Quest), and Pete Rock.

He started out as a DJ for Jazzy Jay back in the late 1980s and was at the same time perfecting his skills in beat making and turntablism, and, together with rhyme partner Master Rob, he was one half of the group Ultimate Force. The group signed with Jazzy Jay’s Strong City Records, and Diamond and Rob started recording their debut album, I’m Not Playin’, in 1988 and released the 12-inch single with the same title, which spawned a buzz in the underground. The album was completed in 1990, but it got caught up in label politics, such as the shutdown of Strong City distributor Uni Records, and was shelved until 2007 when it was released through Traffic Entertainment. One of the last songs recorded for the album was a Diamond D solo song in which he actually picked up the mic for the first time. The song was called “The Best-Kept Secret.” As Ultimate Force dissolved, record executives got their eyes on the Bronx phenomenon, which eventually resulted in the release of Diamond’s debut album, Stunts, Blunts and Hip Hop (released under the moniker Diamond & the Psychotic Neurotics), in 1992. The album is considered to be one of the finest D.I.T.C. solo LPs and features early appearances from Big L and Fat Joe, the latter of whose 1993 debut album, Represent, was mainly produced by Diamond D.

From then, he went on to produce for multiple hip hop and R&B artists. In 1996 he won a Grammy for his production contribution on The Fugees LP The Score. Diamond’s second album, Hatred, Passions and Infidelity, was released in 1997. Since then, he released the independent street album Grown-Man Talk, the official mixtape compilation The Diamond Mine, and provided contributions to his D.I.T.C. cohorts’ projects including the crew’s self-titled 2000 debut album on Tommy Boy/Warner Bros. Records.

In 2007 Diamond D was nominated for a Grammy award for co-production on Natalie Cole’s cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Day Dreaming.” In 2014, he released The Diam Piece (including guest appearances from Pharoahe Monch, Pete Rock, Chino XL, and Guilty Simpson) and its sequel, The Diam Piece 2, in 2019.

His newest album, The Rear View, can be purchased here.

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