Check One, Two – Diamond D from Stunts, Blunts and Hip-Hop

This album came out in 1992, and I started hearing this album from across the hall in my freshman dorm.  I really liked what I was hearing and it definitely had the New York sound I liked in groups like Tribe Called Quest and Gangstarr.  Not a surprise that Joel was from NYC.

This album has several standout tracks, but I always come back to this one as my favorite.  Diamond D produced a lot of the tracks on this album himself, and he does produce this one, but he gets help from the legendary 45 King.  The beat constructed for this song is simple and midtempo (snare, cymbal, and a guitar stab).  Coupled with the “check one, two and you don’t quit” hook, it definitely gets your head nodding.  There’s some nuances to the beat, like around the 1:05 mark when Diamond raps about taking a blues break, the drums cut out for a few seconds and there’s a slowed down guitar riff that’s, well, a blues break (or at least it sounds like one to me).

The star though is Diamond D.  This is a showcase for Diamond, to boast about his rapping prowess, and he doesn’t disappoint.  Miracle Whip.  Cystic Fibrosis.  Paul Newman.  Samson.  Monopoly.  Wayne Gretzky.  Yahtzee.  Rick Cerone.  These sound like words you’d hear being rhymed in a Paul’s Boutique-era Beasties track.  But these are all used by Diamond in this track.  The first two verses are relatively straightforward and they have great rhymes, but the last verse he lets loose.  My favorite: “Compare the sound to another and let’s see/I slam shit up like Wayne Gretzky/So baby’s what’s happenin’/It’s Diamond D with the verbs and the acronyms/It’s a simple song like Sylvester Stone/Catch you out here like Rick Cerone.”  Great stuff.  Not sure why he didn’t get more national attention.

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