Diamond D – “The Rear View” review

Diamond D is a 54 year old MC/producer from The Bronx, New York who came up as a mentor of Jazzy Jay. He would then form the D.I.T.C. collective alongside Lord Finesse & Showbiz in ‘92 only to put out his classic full-length debut Stunts, Blunts & Hip Hop shortly after. D went on to drop 4 more albums & a couple mixtapes of his own but now that it’s been a year & a half since Gotham gave us their acclaimed self-titled effort, he’s back in effect for a 6th album.

After the Chris Rock intro, the first song “Life’s What You Make It” is a symphonic opener to the album produced by Focus… talking about never saying your word’s your bond & breaking it whereas “Live My Life” takes a groovier approach encouraging to let him glow. Westside Gunn tags along for the guitar-driven “Faithful” getting in their mafioso bag leading into the title track bringing back the strings thanks to Nottz taking about feeling so free.

Meanwhile on “Godly”, we have Diamond D over some dusty drums & pianos confessing that’s exactly how he’s feeling just before Dre comes into the picture for the classy “Neva Settle” talks about keeping their eyes up & that they gotta get it. After the “Joe Crack” interlude, “Ouuu” mixes some lavish keyboards & a crooning vocal loop reminding that nothing can stop you as long as you listen to your heart prior to the synth-laced “Smoke Sumthin’” dedicating a banger to all the chiefers out there.

“The Wrong Thing” comes through with a more smoother aesthetic getting on the more romantic side of things, but then the Posdnuos-assisted “Flying High” delivers a charming banger about being the hardest. The song “The Man’s Swift” returns to the boom bap spitting some braggadocio while the penultimate track “The Scorn” with KP laces some horns talking about wanting the chicken & there isn’t any other like them. “Inertia” however serves as a mystical finisher saying all he honors is his balls & his word.

As much as I admired The Diam Piece & it’s sequel for primarily focusing on Diamond D’s production skills, I’d still recommend giving The Rear View a shot for those who missed hearing him on the mic. A couple weak features here & there, but the production is a lot more laid back with more slower tempos & the man himself sounds rejuvenated lyrically.

Score: 4/5

@legendswill_never_die on Instagram for the best music reviews weekly!

Gotham – Self-Titled review

Gotham is an MC/producer duo from New York consisting of Talib Kweli & Diamond D. The latter being a founding member of the seminal collective D.I.T.C. & was one of the first to co-sign Kweli back when he originally formed Black Star alongside childhood friend Yasiin Bey. The first time we really heard Gotham together was on “Where’s the Love?” off of Diamond D’s 2014 solo album The Diam Piece & then they got back for “The Zone Out” on the follow-up The Diam Piece 2 back in 2019 but ever since then, they’ve been hard at work on their full-length debut as a duo & I’m very excited to hear the results.

“Sons of Gotham” kicks the album off with a misty boom bap beat along with lyrics calling out “rappers acting like Kanye” whereas the next song “Olympic” incorporates an organ & a guitar as Kweli proclaims that they do this rap shit for sport. “The Quiet One” touches down on being the voice of the people accompanied by an eerie instrumental & an animalistic Busta Rhymes verse while “On Mamas” goes into a more synth-heavy direction with Kweli spitting about getting the speakers pumping. Meanwhile, the song “Attention Span” is a more atmospheric cut addressing those who’re out to lunch & the Skyzoo verse hits the nail on the head.

The track “In Due Time” is a fiery anthem about how you’ll be getting yours eventually on top of a classy boom bap instrumental whereas John Forté of all people comes into the fold to take a jab at the system on the minimally-produced “Pick Ya Head Up”. The song “Chillin’ While Black” is the one of the only 2 on the entire thing where Diamond D himself jumps on to spit as he & Kweli talk about racial profiling over a horn-inflicted beat & even though the penultimate track “I’ll Tell Ya Later” has a cool concept, the skeletal beat is underwhelming & the Niko Is feature is kinda weak. The album does end strong though, as Kweli & D hop on a dusty instrumental with some jazzy undertones to talk about holding it down.

Despite the fact that Talib’s recent output has been hit or miss with me admittedly, Gotham knocked it out of the park on this one. He & Diamond D do a damn-near perfect job at paying homage to their home-state as the lyrics & production both take listeners back to the traditional days.

Score: 4.5/5