Essential Records: Diamond and the Psychotic Neurotics' "Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop"

Posted by Billyjam, March 19, 2015 09:07pm | Post a Comment

For me an essential album is one that never ages, no matter how many times I re-listen to it. It's also one I feel compelled to listen to all the way through every time - no temptation to ever skip ahead. Hence, without a second thought, I file this classic hip-hop album, which is brimming with jazzy funky grooves and irresistible rhymes, under that essential records category. A five-star release from the latter end of the genre's much-heralded golden era, Stunts, Blunts and Hip Hop by Diamond And The Psychotic Neurotics scores on all levels: production-wise and lyrically, in addition to introducing most fans to hip-hop's long since beloved D.I.T.C. (Diggin' In The Crates) crew. Formerly a member of the rap group Ultimate Force, Diamond (aka Diamond D) proved with this debut album that he not just a gifted producer but also an adept emcee. Released in 1992 on Chemistry/Mercury/PolyGram, Stunts, Blunts, & Hip Hop is a truly solid, all-killer, no-filler hip-hop full-length release, sporting such timeless head-bobbing tracks as the popular lead single "Best-Kept Secret," "Feel The Vibe," "Check One Two," "Fuck What You Heard,"  "Sally Got a One-Track Mind," and the title track. 

[Note that it was due to a much lesser known Bay Area hip-hop artist using the name Diamond D first that Diamond legally had to drop the "D" part from his name. Regardless, everyone still referred to him as Diamond D anyway.]

Diamond and the Psychotic Neurotics "Best Kept Secret"

Super Session

As a producer Diamond possesses a great ear for sample-finding from his crate-digging forays, even rapping at one point in the album about "diggin' in the crates like a maniac." Crate digging samples abound, including that very short but perfect guitar piece that plays throughout and anchors "Check, One Two" (it's from about 22 seconds into Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, and Stephen Still's "Stop" off Super Session). Four years before the Fugees sampled The Delfonics' "Ready or Not Here I Come (Can't Hide from Love)" for their 1996 hit single of the similar name, Diamond D had sampled it on "Step To Me." (Interestingly, Diamond D does contribute elsewhere on the Fugees' The Score album, but not on that particular track). While some critics have called Diamond D's rap skills inferior to his production prowess, I disagree. Sure, he may not be on the same intricate lyrical plane as say a Rakim (but then, who is?). He is still a clever and gifted wordsmith with a knack for spinning memorable lines. For proof simply drop the needle anywhere on the album's tracks for witty examples that include, "I make moves like a man on Ex-Lax" ("I Went For Mine") or "My style stands out like a varicose vein" ("Fuck What You Heard").

Diamond And The Psychotic Neurotics "Sally Got A One Track Mind"

With numerous contributors (emcees and producers), including his crew the Psychotic Neurotics, Stunts, Blunts, & Hip Hop acted as a kind of blueprint and teaser for what was to come from the infamous and legendary NYC D.I.T.C. crew. An acronym for "Diggin' in the Crates" (and named so for their fondness of unearthing deep soul and funk breaks and samples) the D.I.T.C. crew (pictured left) would feature among its many producer and emcee membership such talents as the late Big L, Fat Joe, and Showbiz - all of whom make early career appearances on this album. Other microphone guests include Brand Nubian's Lord Jamar and Sadat X, Whiz One, Maestro, Mike G.Q. (who along with Fat Joe collaborate on "Pass Dat Shit"), Michelle Sweeting and Jasmine (on the song "Confused"). As far as production on this funky release the able studio master Diamond D handled most of it himself but did recruit some high-profile talent too to co-produce several tracks including Large Professor (aka Large Pro), ATCQ's Q-Tip, Jazzy Jay, Lakim Shabazz, Showbiz, and DJ Mark the 45 King. Even the album tracks that may not pure bangers such as "Red Light, Green Light" or "A Day In The Life" (featuring Lord Jamar along with Sadat X's unique trademark flow) still rate high in my book and deserve repeated listens in making up an essential album that I can listen to from start to finish without having to ever skip ahead. Now that's a classic! Available from Amoeba in both LP/vinyl and CD versions.

Read more from the Amoeblog Essential Records archives.

Diamond D And The Psychotic Neurotics "F**K What You Heard"

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Big L (8), Stunts (1), Essential Records (35), Sadat X (8), Diamond D (4), Fat Joe (3), Blunts (1), Diamond And The Psychotic Neurotics (1), D.i.t.c. (3), Brand Nubian (4), & Hip-hop (1)