Diamond D Tells All: The Stories Behind His Classic Records

Lord Finesse & DJ Mike Smooth "Funky Technician" (1990)

Producer: Diamond D

Album: Funky Technician

Label: Wild Pitch/EMI

Diamond D: “Me and Lord Finesse grew up in the same projects and went to the same grade school together. That’s how we met. As I got older, I found out he was into music. When you’re in the projects, basketball players know basketball players, MCs know MCs, and DJs know DJs. In Forest Projects, there were a lot of DJs. I can’t forget my influences DJ Hutch and DJ Supreme. They held down Forest Projects for a long time. When I was a little dude, they would let me come outside and get on the turntables. That was a big deal.

“When [my song with my first rap group Ultimate Force], ‘I’m Not Playin’’ came out in ‘88, we were the first ones from our projects to make a record that got a little bit of airplay. There was a group before us that put out some music, but ours was the first one that got any airplay. Lord Finesse started making his own noise, battling MCs all over the Bronx.

 
I’m glad to be known as the first one to even touch that record on some hip-hop shit, and then Das EFX did it after me. Back then, it was like, ‘Yo, niggas bitin’ your shit.’ But the song was hot. You can’t hate on anything that’s hot.
 

“His punchlines were crazy, and he wasn’t scared to battle anybody. He went to the New Music Seminar and did his thing there, and that led to his deal at Wild Pitch Records. When he got signed to Wild Pitch, he came to me and was like, ‘Yo D, I want you to help out on the album.’ It was me, DJ Premier, and Showbiz [that did production on his first album].

“I learned about the Black Caesar soundtrack [where I found the James Brown ‘Blind Man Can See It’ sample] from my Uncle Kevin’s brother Gary. He had mad records, and was an influence on me just being into music period. I played it for Finesse, and he was like, ‘This is it right here.’

“I’m glad to be known as the first one to even touch that record on some hip-hop shit, and then Das EFX did it after me. Back then, it was like, ‘Yo, niggas bitin’ your shit.’ But the song was hot. You can’t hate on anything that’s hot. As a producer, when that happens you feel a certain type of way, but at the end of the day everyone knows who touched that first.

“It’s the same thing that happened with the ‘I’m Not Playin’’ beat. Chubb Rock had a song with that beat. I remember me and Master Rob [from Ultimate Force] watching Soul Train, and we were like, ‘Oh shit. He on there with our joint.’ Shit was crazy. But Albert King owns that song [from the ‘I’m Just Playin’ sample], we don’t own it. So it is what it is.”

 

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