10 Essential D.I.T.C. Albums

Top 10 essential D.I.T.C. albums

10. Good Fellas by Showbiz & A.G. (May, 1995)

There are a surprising amount of D.I.T.C. fans that consider this record the best Showbiz & A.G. album. I can see why they would prefer this one, but in terms of sheer overall quality I believe their debut “Runaway Slave” takes the cake without a doubt. This record sounds a lot different from the first wave of D.I.T.C. albums and although it’s refreshing to hear a new sound on this one, I don’t think it allowed for as much variety and depth. Although the album has some great moments and is fairly solid all the way through, It suffers from missing that “Vibe” or “Magic” that was present in full force on their first record.
On the musical side of things, the beats are very minimal, rugged, raw, and grimy. These hardcore beats are a product of the time & place and that style is generally very suitable for hard MC’s to tear apart with their virtuous rhyming skills. The problem on this album is that AG’s lyrics really don’t feel as virtuous as other MCs of the time nor as inspired as his lyrics on Runaway Slave. He seems to be more technical on this record than on his first, but if feels a bit forced and the sparse arrangements only serve to make this flaw more obvious. He is still solid on the mic but he lacks the personality and energy that shined through just a couple years prior. Fortunately there are some really nice guest appearances from the likes of Lord Finesse, Diamond D, Method man, and most importantly Party Arty who sounds like he is absolutely out of his mind on this album. His hard “crazy” style does a lot to get the listener hyped up and break up the vocals before they get stale. He serves a similar role to MCs like Sticky Fingaz, RBX, and Lord Have Mercy although he sounds more pissed off and less stylistic than the latter two of those three.
On the musical side of things, there is a lot of Avant Garde production and arrangement that Showbiz tries and this sonic adventurousness is one of the main reasons I still put this record on. It’s especially cool when he throws you a curve balland adds a totally different change up to the beat during the last chorus, verse, or outro of a song. The only problem with this style of production is that when considering the lyrical side of this record, a dense layering of samples and the greater variety of flavors seen on Runaway Slave would have helped to support the blander parts of this album better than the stripped down production the record consisted of. That being said I am still a fan of how rugged and unique the beats are. If you are a D.I.T.C. fan I strongly recommend that you get this record because it has a few songs that are straight up bangers including the DJ Premier remix of “Next Levels”, The Lord Finesse Produced “Add On”, as well as the extremely hard cuts featuring Party Arty like “Neighborhood Sickness”, “The Flavors”, and the last song on the album which features some really cool sample work and a guest spot from Diamond D.9. The Awakening  by Lord Finesse (February, 1996) This record has the opposite problem of the one I just mentioned. I want to hear Lord Finesse rap more on this! There are 16 tracks on this record, 5 interludes, and one skit. There are 4 songs that Lord Finesse raps on without any guest spots. On the other 9 songs there are 16 guest appearances and many of those songs do not even have Finesse on the mic. This is really a shame because this album may feature the best beats and production Finesse had done up to that point. The record just feels like it needs more of his signature charming style that he laced his previous albums with. Other than that, this is a great album. The guest spots are really nice on this. Great features from Grand Puba, Sadat X, Large Professor, Diamond D, A.G, KRS-1, and Especially O.C. who rips two of these songs to shreds. If you are a fan of Lord Finesse or D.I.T.C. don’t’ even hesitate to pick this album up. It’s dope.
8. Lifestyles Of The Poor And Dangerous by Big L (March 1995). Big L came out vicious on this. His rhymes were fierce and the punchlines generally demonstrated a great sense of humor. The production is solid on this album through and through. The only things I have to say about these lyrics are that you have to take them with a grain of salt. If you take what he says as at face value you are going to be offended. Some lines may be a product of Hip Hop culture at the time and they did not age so gracefully. During the time L came out, the type of shocking and “ill” punchlines he was doing were ground breaking and edgy. Nowawdays we have heard a lot of rappers that use a style based on these kinds of shocking punchlines before. Consequently some of the biggest shockers just sound fucked up, and sexist to say the least. “A Girl asked me for a ring, so I put one around her whole eye.” Often just makes me cringe. Now if you can get past those rhymes, the other issue with this album is that it is a bit on the one dimensional side. L’s rhymes are always impressive but I prefer consuming them in smaller doses. I often find myself listening to about three or four songs before changing up the record. That being said Songs like “Street Struck”, “MVP”, and especially the bonafied classic “Put It On” are essential Hip Hop listening. The rest of the songs are good, nothing is boring or lacking energy and there are some real nice guest features on Da Graveyard Including Lord Finesse, Party Arty, and a young Jay-Z. This album is also a fantastic example of the second wave of D.I.T.C. albums to come out, both in terms of beats and rhymes. Whether you’re a D.I.T.C. fan or not. If you like Hip Hop, this is a must have. There is a reason why many of the best MCs out there mention Big L as one of their biggest influences and one of the greatest of all time. Now, I may be in the minority but I actually like some of the other MCs in the D.I.T.C. crew a bit more such as Big L’s rap mentor Lord Finesse.
7. Return of the Funky Man by Lord Finesse (February, 1992). Hands down, 1992 was the best year for D.I.T.C. albums and it might be my favorite year for Hip hop in general. It marked the first time D.I.T.C. truly came into their own sound which remained consistent across all three records they put out that year. Those records were Return of The Funky Man, Stunts, Blunts, and Hip Hop, and Runaway Slave . It was a beautiful thing for all three of these records to come out around the same time because it really solidified their group/crew identity, it put a brand to their cohesive sound, and judging by the vibe, the features, and the shoutouts, you could tell these guys were tight. The bond they had with each other, and the chemistry on these records really helped make these records the classics they were. “Return” was the first out of the trio of D.I.T.C. classics to come out in 1992 and man this record was funky. Lord Finesse was in prime lyrical form, and this record was a blast to listen to. This album had the perfect amount of classic guest features from both the legend Percy P and Finesses first great opponent on the mic A.G. Altogether, the only big critique I have of this album is that some songs aged better than others. Songs like “Party Over Here” and “Kicking Flavor With My Man” have a beat that sounds a bit corny today and the beat for “How Smooth I Am” can be boring but the rest of the beats sound classic and timeless. This record features a seasoned Lord Finesse that is hungry and ready to rap his fucking ass off. As per usual, his punchlines are hilarious and his style is smooth and charming. Finesse always has a way of coming off like a natural and this album is no exception. He isn’t super hard on this album but he certainly got a little edgier. This isn’t for better or for worse. I’d say it helps differentiate his sophomore effort from his debut “Funky Technician” giving his second album a distinct identity and voice. If you are a D.I.T.C. fan you need this album. The rhymes are funny, the beats are funky, and the scratching from DJ Premier is totally bad ass. The best songs on here would probably be the title track which is a certified banger, “I Like My Girl’s With A Boom”, which is a song that describes what kind of ladies he is after, “Yes You May”, which is a slammin Posse cut featuring Percy P and AG, and “Fat For The 90s” Which features Finesse and A.G. committing murder with the microphone and serves as one of the best demonstrations of Finesse’s lyrical prowess. Don’t sleep on this!
6. Word..Life By O.C. (1994).  The first record to come out of the D.I.T.C. camp that was truly sensitive and heartfelt. O.C. added much needed dimension to the Diggin’ entourage. He talks about a lot of things that many people have to deal with such as grief and loss of people we care about, the plight of racial profiling and the anger that goes along with being harassed by the police, the virtue of tolerance and letting somebody slide when they violate, The value of being genuine and the contempt he feels for fake MCs rapping in a way that’s not authentic, and a vast smattering of life topics in general. His delivery and voice is perfect for his lyrics because it can come off both as hardcore and sensitive depending on the lyrics he is delivering. And just because O.C. raps about a lot of relatable issues on this album doesn’t mean he can’t rip an MC a new asshole! He demonstrates some of the sharpest lyrical skills of any member of the crew on many of the cuts on this record. This makes the album not only deep but impressive as well, which is a great combo.
The production is mostly handled by Buckwild and he did a great job with this record. It’s a perfect match for O.C.’s style. Just like O.C.’s raps, these beats are sensitive and evoke a lot of emotion, yet they are hard and rugged. To top it off, the whole record is laced with a nice tinge of jazz. It’s such a great blend that the album never gets boring throughout the whole play through. Fresh and creative samples from obscure albums is a staple of D.I.T.C. production and this album features a plethora of them. Stand out tracks include the underground anthem “Times Up” and my personal favorites are “Point O Views”, “Word Life”, “Ma Dukes”, and especially “Born To Live” which gets me misty from time to time. Such a classic. Whether you are a fan of D.I.T.C. or of Hip Hop in general. You owe it to yourself to track this one down.
5. Rare Studio Masters Diggin In The Crates 1993-1997. This is a double album that consists of b-sides and remixes. All the songs on this record are solid but some are definitely better than others. Altogether I’d say that there are enough great tracks on both discs of the album to make one totally outstanding single album. Despite a few songs that are mediocre there are some classic bangers on this record and exlusive remixes that you just won’t find anywhere else. The album doesn’t get old because there are so many different MCs on it and it’s just dope jazzy beat after dope jazzy beat. It’s always hard to make a great remix, but a lot of these songs surpass the original and many others are at the very least a really cool alternate take on the original. The remixes you gotta hear are “C’Mon With The Get Down” by Artifacts Ft Bustah Rhymes, Bring It On Remix – Organized Konfusion (This song is hype AF), Respect the Architect – By Guru Ft Bahamadia, DAAAM!!! By Tha Alkaholics, MVP by Big L (Remix #2, Not #1, it’s a lot better and harder than the original.), Life’s A Bitch Remix –Nas Featuring AZ (Remix #2, Not #1), “North, East, West, South” – Black Sheep (Way better than the original) and my personal favorite remix, “One Little Indian” by One Little Indian Ft “The Foreigner” who is a dope humorous rapper with a Caribbean accent. The beat on this remix is also way better than the original beat.
In addition to the remixes, this album also has a lot of songs that have become staples in the catalogues of other rappers that have only been released on this album. The Original songs you gotta peep out are the classic “You Can’t Front” by Diamond D Ft Sadat X and Lord Finesse, “Story Of My Life” by Gemini The Gifted One who later went on to work with Danger Mouse, and “What A Year” by Chubb Rock. It’s easily one of the best songs Chubb Rock ever made and I’m a big Chubb Rock Fan. Those are just the big stand out tracks but there are a lot of other good songs to be heard on this album. If you are a fan of Hip Hop in general, you won’t be disappointed with this. Pick it up!
4. Funky Technician by Lord Finesse (Febuary 1992). I’d say that this is Lord Finesse’s best performance in terms of lyrics and delivery. He may have sounded more seasoned and edgy on his sophomore album “Return Of The Funky Man” but his rhymes and delivery were at their most hilarious, charming, and most impressive on this album. This album also solidified Finesse as a master of punchlines. His timing was so impeccable that people who aren’t even accustomed to listening to Hip Hop could catch his jokes. His unique way of saying hardcore lyrics, yet delivering the rhymes like he is just playing around, lead to a certain type of humor that many MC’s don’t pull off as well. This is encapsulated by rhymes like “I’m the brother you dare not lay a hand on. I’ll leave you more bloodier than a tampon.” It may look rough and tumble in print, but his jocular delivery made it abundantly clear that he was going for a laugh and sure enough, that line cracked me up every time.
Another thing that made Finesse appealing was how he made this rhyme style look effortless and natural as if was second nature for him, whereas other MCs sound like they were forcing punchlines and technicality down your throat. At the time of release Finesse was a young 19 year old MC and you can really hear the youthfulness in Finesse on this record, not only in his pitch but in his playful approach to writing and delivering rhymes. This youthfulness is a big part of why this album is so charming, and even though he is great on his later albums, this charming youthful aspect of Lord Finesse’s rhyme style became less prominent with each album he released. It figures, as he was obviously getting older, however it’s one of the main reasons that “Funky Technician” is a special treat. Later on, Finesse began to make songs in which his delivery sounded more solemn and hard. I think he was influenced by changing trends in the genre and culture. He may have been taking after rap that was becoming more hardcore in the mid-nineties. Another reason for the change in his rap style was the introduction of new members into the D.I.T.C. rap crew such as O.C., and especially Finesse’s protégé Big L. Finesse served as Big L’s rap mentor and probably his biggest influence as an MC. In turn, Big L began doing a lot of new things with his rhyme schemes, vocal tone, and overall delivery that came full circle and began influencing Finesse on his later albums. So, if you want to check out Finesse on the mic in his youthful prime, this is the album you really should hear, and it’s one of the best lyrical performances in Hip Hop.
The production on this album is a perfect fit for Lord Finesse’s rhyme style. The Funky beats and breaks are just enough to get your head nodding to the groove without getting in the way of Finesse’s rhymes. The upbeat vibe of these beats set the mood to be fun and playful which really helps bring out the humor in the lyrics. It doesn’t hurt that this album featured an up and coming group of producers that would later go on to be an all star cast of New York Hip Hop production. The album was produced about half by DJ Premier and about half by Diamond D with just two other songs being contributed by Showbiz. This is the first record Showbiz helped produce and the second record produced by Diamond D and DJ Premier. The firsts were the shelved album “I’m Not Playin” by Diamond D and Master Rob, which eventually released under their group name “Ultimate Force” and the Preemo produced joint “No More Mister Nice Guy” by Gang Starr. On both of these records, Diamond D and Premier had a lot of assistance from Jazzy Jay in the studio, Premier even referred to Jazzy Jay as a co-producer of “No More Mister Nice Guy”. So Funky Technician is really the very first time we heard production from DJ Premier or Diamond D that was made totally on their own, and you can tell as the beats sound quite different from what they did with Jazzy Jay. They were still coming into their own as producers. Even though they had yet to fully develop their signature sound (the arrangements were simpler, the samples were less obscure, and there was an over reliance on James Brown loops), the beats just fit Finesse so well that it didn’t detract much from the quality of the album.
There are a few beats like the sparse “Just A Little Something” that do sound like just a little something is missing from them. There were also classic songs like “Bad Mutha” that sounded great but were composed merely of looped up James Brown records without many other embellishments. Diamond D used the James Brown record that had been looped up before in 1989 for Ice-T’s hit single “You Played Yourself” and looped again in 2002 for Nas’s song “Get Down.” Even though some of the production didn’t feature the D.I.T.C.’s signature use of obscure samples that their namesake is derived from, other productions on the album saw the crew use samples that had yet to be used before such as the other sample Diamond D pulled off the Black Ceaser Record by James Brown that was incorporated into the title track “Funky Technician”. This same sample was later used for the break out hit “They Want EFX” that went on to put Das EFX on the map in 1992. My point is, that this record may seem like it lacks a lot of the unique sampling that D.I.T.C. is known for, but the sampling was a lot more unique in 1990. Regardless of what records were used, the sampling was very well done. It was suitable for the MC, it was tight and funky, and the album came out very cohesive. On top of that, DJ Mike Smooth tore up the ones and twos with some super fresh scratching and mixing, which is one of the main highlights of this album as well. All in all, from the beats, the rhymes, and the scratches “Funky Technician” is a D.I.T.C. classic and it’s still a joy to listen to today.
3. Jewelz by O.C. (August, 1997) Although “Word Life” is a pretty hard album to top, O.C. outdid himself on this album and made one of the most impressive showcases of rap lyricism to ever be put on wax. He took all the things that made his first album great, poetic word choices, down to earth and relatable topics, and a perfect balance of verbal technicality and emotional sensitivity to new heights by adding in some novel and interesting twists to his usual format. Most notably, his newfound use of abstract lyrics and his unique blending of his “real” lyrics that were heard on his previous album with a more imaginative use of lyrics that strike me as surreal and fantastical. This makes for rhymes that are not just moving and relatable but for lyrics that speak to one’s sense of wonder and imagination in a way that I rarely hear in Hip Hop. Without these elements of abstraction and surrealism this record would be missing the very things that make it such a unique piece of work.
O.C. raps on this album from the perspective of someone who has some kind of supernatural powers, like he is not of this earth and is instead an alien, a god, a prophet, or a person who is experiencing something beyond the ordinary. He has a song about having an out of body experience and seeing a premonition of the future through the eyes of a crow. He has a song called “The Chosen one” in which he raps about how he “Descended on the planet, to end confusion” He rhymes “It’s O.C. slash, must shine communicating for the masses. Puttin my finger against NASA. When I die, bronze my mic, preserve it for newcomers to visit my grave site like a shrine. Rappers’ll line up faithfully, just to get handful of dirt from the plot occupied by The Chosen One.” “Pick ten, subtract five then, subtract four. Watch the Sun leave a shadow on the man that’s raw”. And if you did the math you’ll know that equals ”The chosen One”. The song “War Games” is an extended metaphor for what it’s like to write lyrics in which O.C. compares his rhymes to various kind of warfare and being in active duty. On “My World” He raps about snatching a star out of the sky and sparking up some weed with it and retiring on a yacht called the S.S. Minnow.
For all of this poetic surrealism and fantasy, there are also lyrics that capture the essence of humanity and the human experience in a more concrete fashion. On the song “Jewelz” O.C. raps about his most profound hopes and dreams, his grief and loss, both personally and collectively, as well as mundane experiences like popping boners half naked in his boxers. he Compares losing his closest loved ones to the Iranian Hostage Crises He imagines doing a bank robbery and wonders if it’s a wrong of him to even entertain the idea. He talks about how he wants his misses by his side, and to have magic like a wizard. He talks about doubting his rap his career, taking control of his life, and ends his last verse with a quote from his Dad, “How you live your life is all on you son”. It’s just such a moving piece, and it captures so much of the human experience.
The guest appearances on this album are classic. It’s dope to hear from Big L on “Dangerous” but it’s Freddie The Fox whose performances are a true highlight of this album and of Freddie’s career. Freddie sounds fierce and energetic as we have come to expect from him but his lyrics strike me as being much sharper than usual on “Win The G” and especially on the DJ Premier Produced track “M.U.G.” in which O.C. and Fox trade bars with an unmatched chemistry. Even in the midst of Freddie’s hardcore onslaught and O.C.s lyrical flexing, O.C. takes time to ponder through rhyme how his Mom considered aborting him as a fetus, but he knows that it shouldn’t make him feel less important.
On the production side, this record is more or less perfect. Rather than the dark hardcore beats on “Good Fellas” and “Lifestyles of the Poor and Dangerous”, or the funky beats of the Lord Finesse albums or the jazz-tastic crate digging bombast that is “Runaway Slave”, the beats on “Jewelz” serve as a subdued atmospheric backdrop for O.C.’s rhymes to shine on. On some songs the beats create an almost ethereal ambiance that O.C. uses as his canvas to paint his surreal pictures on. These beats are mostly there to accentuate the vocals and song writing, they did so with great effect. There are a few party jams on here to break up the more atmospheric songs and of course the cartoony but rugged banger “M.U.G.” which is sure to get your head nodding. This album features an all star production team consisting of DJ Premier, Lord Finesse, Showbiz, Da Beatminerz, and of course Buckwild.
If you are into Hip Hop lyricism, particularly of the poetic variety, you need to check this album out. It sounds like O.C. spent a lot more time crafting his lyrics on this record than the one before, and the final product is something I have never heard anything quite like. So do yourself a favor and pick it up. It’s good front to back, it’s cohesive, it’s got great pacing and flow, it’s got solid production, and features a truly unique style of vocals you won’t find anywhere else. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
2. Runaway Slave by Showbiz & A.G. (September 22, 1992). This is one of the most criminally underrated albums in all of Hip Hop history. It has everything that you would expect from a classic album from the golden age of rap. Dope beats, rhymes, vibe, chemistry, cohesion, variety, depth, innovation, awesome guest features, and a unique signature sound. It’s an all-time classic that deserves more shine then it gets.
In terms of the beats, Showbiz really created something special. The arrangement is some of the best I have heard in any Hip Hop album. Rather than just a simple loop for the verse and another one for the chorus with the occasional change up, Showbiz arranged the beats to constantly build up, layer upon layer, until the verses exploded into climactic choruses. Other times, he would drop out the beat and leave sections of the songs very sparse to accentuate the lyrics and move your focus onto the vocalist. One great aspect about his technique of constantly adding in and taking away particular elements of the beat is that it gives the listener a bit of insight as to how Showbiz put the beat together. It lets the listener in on the craftsmanship of the music, like he’s giving you a wink and saying “hey, you see what I did there?”. This constant embellishment really keeps me engaged with the music throughout the whole record in a way that many records do not.
The samples Showbiz used and the way he chose to chop them up really set this album apart from others of its time. This is one of the very few Hip Hop records I have heard that contains a profuse amount of samples from Big Band Jazz groups without sounding like a gimmick. Showbiz found some of the most epic and bombastic brass samples you could fathom. These horns give way to emotions that are not often evoked by Hip Hop records. When those trumpets blow on the chorus of “Silence The Lambs” I often feel like I am about to reach a triumphant victory after a hard fight. It’s the type of feeling I get from music that would play during a Boss battle in a video game. The song “Fat Pockets” is made that much more anthemic by the unmistakable horn intro which announces to the audience that the next song is going to be a straight head banger. The horns on “Still Diggin” go back and forth from being low key and jazzy to abrasive and biting. The Barry Sax on “Bounce To This” get’s the party started while sounding quirky at the same time. The horns on “40 Acres And My Props” evoke the imagery of walking into a classy ballroom or a smokey jazz club. The horns on “Hold Your Head” evoke feelings of celebration and somberness as any good eulogy would. The Horns on “Runway Slave” make a fantastic use of dynamics as they reach a tense crescendo which leaves the listener in suspense before the drums finally come back in for the verse. And of course there’s a reason that the horns on “Party Groove” are spun by many DJs around the world to this day. They get the crowd Hyped! Who would have thought that producer could say so much with a toot of a horn?
As a drummer, I pay a lot of attention to the drum patterns, samples, and breaks that are being used and I can say that Showbiz had a great way of picking out his drum samples. Rather than merely chopping the kick, snare, and hi-hat as you often hear DJ Premier do. Showbiz would often chop up bigger portions of the breaks and splice them into original patterns that sound almost as a live drummer is playing them. On top of this, he would layer additional snares and kicks over his spliced drums to give the snares a nice satisfying crack and the kicks a punchy booming thump while retaining the drum’s natural and organic aesthetic. Even though the fattest kicks and loudest snares often lined up in a traditional boom bap pattern, Showbiz utilized a lot of syncopated ghost notes on the snare that lead these drum patterns to be a lot funkier than the drums on a Tribe or Gang Starr record. The syncopated patterns coupled with the looped up Hi-Hats and Cymbals lead these beats to have a great natural groove that sounds unique when compared to many Boom Bap records of the time. It’s like the drums are as funky as the drums off of “A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing” by Black Sheep but as hard hitting as the drums on “Hard To Earn” by Gang Starr. Oh, and you can tell these breaks came straight off the vinyl, you can hear the dusty cracklings all over these beats and it sounds fuckin great.
One thing that makes this record such a classic is that it remains cohesive while constantly shifting gears. I often say this record should be held in the same regard as the “Low End Theory” By A Tribe Called Quest and “Daily Operation” by Gang Starr. One unifying commonality that made these three albums so easy to listen to from start to finish is that they all covered such a great variety of topics. It was hard to get bored listening to these records because the lyrics of each song always gave you something new to think about. The Album starts off appropriately with the Crate Diggin anthem “Still Diggin”, a song about how the activity of crate digging brings them together and it appropriately features Diamond D. Then we have “Fat Pockets” a get money song that’s about work ethic, lending a helping hand to fellow people in need but urging people to be accountable for it. You have “Bounce Ta This”, a lit ass party jam with some comedy from Dres of Black Sheep who raps “Brothers think I diss em, but I’m really on their dicks”. There are songs about Show & A’s personal ambition despite the systematic racism they have to deal with such as “40 Acre’s & My Props”, “Runaway Slave”, and “More Than One Way Out The Ghetto”. There’s a great eulogy song “Hold Your Head” that they dedicate to their friends Tshaka Figeoroa, and Koto Harris. There’s hardcore songs where A.G. is out for blood like “Silence The Lambs” and “Hard To Kill”. There’s the two bangin’ dance floor ready singles “Party Groove” and “Soul Clap”, and of course one of the greatest posse cuts of all time “Represent” which features a fierce Lord Finesse, D-Flow, and the debut of rap legend Big L. There really isn’t a weak moment on this album.
The last thing I want to say about this record is that the comradery is a big part of why this record is so great. This record is filled with rhymes about how they have each other’s backs and how they help out their friends. I think it’s great that all the original founding crew members are here and accounted for on this album. When they aren’t spitting verses they are giving each other shout outs left and right. On other songs they just pop in during an interlude to say some shit, but it creates the impression that they were all hanging out in the studio, that they were all good friends that were having a good time with this project. It just sounds natural and organic. Show & A.G. came off so in tune with each other that the chemistry between them and the general vibe of the album took it from being a great record to a timeless classic that serves as one of the finest representations of the D.I.T.C. crew. Whether you are a fan of Hip Hop or not, I’d recommend that you give this record a listen.
1.Stunts, Blunts, & Hip Hop by Diamond D (September 22, 1992). In terms of Sheer quality I can’t decide which album is better. Stunts, Blunts, & Hip Hop and Runaway Slave are about as perfect as a Hip Hop record can get. They both embody everything that D.I.T.C. is known for and it’s pretty spectacular that both records were released on the same exact day. In the end, I give the number one spot to Stunts, Blunts, & Hip Hop because it’s not just a record that features bugged out obscure samples and dope beats but it’s a record that is dedicated to encapsulating the lifestyle of a producer and a crate digger. This record takes you on a day to day trip through Diamond D’s life. It almost feels like you were just hanging out with him for a couple of weeks. Nothing about this album is dramatic, nor socio-political. Nothing is preachy, everything is pretty laid back and at times even mundane. But that’s what makes it so special. It’s just Diamond D rapping about how he needs to add in a flute sample to make his beat complete, how he doesn’t use the same breakbeats other producers use, how he went to the record store with Showbiz, how he like to smoke weed and listen to Thelonious Monk, or how he forgot that he left The Large Professor’s phone number on his dresser. On the track “A Day In The Life” Diamond D, Sadat X, and Lord Jamar all rap about starting they’re day with a shower and smoking a blunt, and of course brushing their teeth. Something about this day to day vibe makes this album relatable and has lead me to play the record on a day to day basis throughout periods of my life.
Along with all these easy going lyrics Diamond does take some time to rap about somethings that are really moving but still pertinent to the album’s concept. For instance, on the track “Went For Mine” he raps about how he thought he had some talent to make beats, telling his parents that he wanted to go into production for his career, and what it was like to give it his best shot. It’s a song that moves me in a very unique way. Not only because I relate to it but also because his tone was very genuine yet low key. He didn’t try to exaggerate it into a big dramatic event in the same way that many rappers would have. The authenticity made it feel very special. The Title track is another one that’s very moving because he is able to capture the beauty of life’s simple pleasures. It’s a song with three verses, one about women, one about smoking weed, and one about Hip Hop and Diamond’s favorite old school crews. It’s funny how these types of songs that may seem shallow can evoke so much emotion. They can make life feel simpler and return my focus on to the little things that make me happy.
In classic D.I.T.C. fashion Diamond D takes some time to brag and boast and drop some hilarious punchlines. My favorites may be “I make moves like a man on Ex-Lax” or “Even your girl says you have a small wee wee”. In general this humor comes in pretty heavy doses throughout the entire album including interludes where Diamond and friends tell each other Yo Mama jokes. This album has some unintentional humor as well, which comes in the form of lines that don’t really make sense. For instance Diamond tells listeners “he’ll stimulate their brain like a game of Yahtzee.” And makes a reference to “Prostate cancer of the liver.” This album is filled with these sort of lyrical oddities and is peppered with fun facts about diamond d Such as how he “used to hit the dojo” till he “Fell in love with chocolate Rolos”. This light and humerus style really helped make the album a joy to listen to.
The last thing I will mention about the rhymes is that Diamond D made them seem so effortless and natural on this album. The later albums Diamond D recorded lacked this natural vibe to them. The lyrics came off like he was trying to flex his MC skills and sound hot and contemporary. Generally I believe that rappers should evolve and update their style, but when Diamond changed up his flow and lyrics, a lot of the charm and low key relatable feel got lost in the mix. This is a big part of why Diamond D’s later albums didn’t compare to Stunts. The beats were largely on point, but the rhyme style just didn’t resonate with people in the same way.
The rhymes on Stunts, Blunts, and Hip Hop were truly the icing on the cake, but we haven’t even talked about the cake which might just be the best part. I’m talking about some of the most striking signature production in all of 90s Hip Hop. This album grew slowly into being one of my all time favorites but what hooked me initially were the bass lines on “Fuck What You Heard” and “Sally Got A One Track Mind”. The very first moment that I heard them, I knew there was something very unique about them, they just didn’t sound like the type of bass lines I had been accustomed to hearing at the time and they certainly had never been used on any Hip Hop record up to that point.
I wasn’t fully aware of it at the time, but a lot of producers would be sampling the same records, they might flip the samples differently but they were taking them from the same source. I had heard Kool, & The Gang’s “Summer Madness” used time and time again by both East and West Coast producers. Nearly Every Producer and DJ had the Ultimate Breakbeats series of records and they had mined it to death for sounds and samples. So many producers using the same samples and breaks led to a lot of stagnation in Hip Hop production. Although the late 80s saw groups like Public Enemy, De La Soul, Ultramagnetic MCs, and the Beastie Boys make use of some very original records and sounds that pushed the boundaries of Hip Hop to new heights, It was the next wave of early 90s Hip Hop producers that are most associated with crate digging sound. Attaining this sound meant these producers had to spend hours in record stores, pawn shops, garage sales, record collector conventions and so forth to find those truly obscure gems to use for fresh samples and beats. In this regard, Stunts, Blunts, & Hip Hop is a hard record to top. Not only was Diamond D using a lot of unusual records, he had the ear to pick out very distinctive samples and use them in ways that stood out when compared to other records of the day. The beats are just oozing to the brim with creativity and originality, and that becomes rather apparent from the moment you put it on. Even though this record was made in 92, it had a unique organic sound that still sounds fresh today. Whether you are looking for unique beats, or laid back blunted rhymes, you can’t go wrong with this album. I’d recommend any of these top 5 records to somebody looking to check out classic 90s Hip Hop but if you want to get the most quintessential representation of the D.I.T.C. crew, I would certainly pick up this timeless classic.

Thanks for taking the time to check this out. Here is a link to my spotify playlist of quintessential D.I.T.C. songs and you can also find each of the albums I discussed on Spotify. https://open.spotify.com/user/isaacflowerday/playlist/7mBwDfxjD2LObNdU3qOsQe

Categories: Essential Albums

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