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Diamond Shell Uncovering the shell 'Ladies knooow his naaame is Shelly Deee': still often we have Biz Markie singing through our speakers on his younger brother Diamond Shell's 'Oh What A Night' of his one and only self-titled album from 1991 on Cold Chillin. This unsung hero of hip-hop still gets mad respect from the old school fans as the LP still is mentioned as one of rap's underrated classics. 15 years after its release, Platform8470 uncovers the shell and digs up the pearl this album really was, by hooking up with the author, Shelly D, The Grand Imperial Diamond Shell aka GIDS. Of course, first thing on our mind was the cover.

Do you remember some of the records you ?swept away? with a broom stick on the cover?

Yeah, I do, I remember quit a few of them. That whole album and design was my idea. There was some from labels like Sugar Hill, Enjoy Records, Sleeping Bag Records, Prism Records. And so on...

The cover has some logo's on it; there's one sweet little logo of 'Biz Productions', it pictures 2 little figures, one of them is Biz Mark, the other one is ... you?

No, that one is my cousin Cool Vee. At the time they had just started a production company which they put me on.

What made you decide to do such a non-glamorizing cover art work?

To tell the truth and anybody who has made a serious demo or is recording an album will tell you that, it?s non-glamorizing work! You can ask any engineer or anybody who has made a demo for that matter. There is no bright light or mass media in the lab while you are doing your thing. I remember seeing a lot of females come to work in the studio and in the video and on TV, they look like maybeline broads but in the studio, when it?s work time, they look more like maybe-not broads. The statement behind the album cover is years of record collecting at a high volume preparing to be DJ, a producer and then a rapper making music and sampling.

Do you still listen to that album now and then?

Yeah I do, I think the beats on that album was strong. The lyrical content flowed well with it also. Hip-hop showed a lot of love for that album. Not to mention I got a chance to record in Powerplay Studios! In that time, the greatest albums in hip-hop came out of there: Eric B & Rakim?s ?Paid In Full?, ?Criminal Minded? by Boogie Down Productions and a few others, if ya don?t know, ask somebody quick! Maaannn, gotta big up DJ Doc. I think I still owe him a pair of sneakers on a bet.

(haahaa) So what other curious anecdotes do you remember from the recording sessions?

I remember recording with ED O. G. & Da Bulldogs, we were the two new kids on the block. I remember Sweet Tee use to come in and give everybody a friendly kiss on the cheek, except me and ED. One day I am going to ask her what that was about. Big up to T though, her new single is kinda flava.

What song(s) of that album do you like the most?

Well, I like them all because I feel like each cut was produced to be a single. Not like most albums today that you can only get 2 or 3 cuts that are good, if you?re lucky! The cuts I liked most was ?Grand Imperial?, ?Back Em Up Gee?, ?Back Again?... Diamond Jay did his thing settin up the scratches on that joint.

So why was there only one album released on Cold Chillin?

Because rap in the states is full of politics and bullshit, that?s why. Not to mention Cold Chillin was on its way under.

Do you feel like you could?ve released more albums back in the day?

Definitely so!

Cold Chillin' Records always took mythical proportions, now even more than ever; tell us something we probably don't want to know about the label?

I gotta pass on makin a negative Cold Chillin statement though I?m sure you know there?s plenty to make! I will say that for many years they let us do our thing, from our first freshmen projects with Biz an Swan and Big Daddy Kane to our last, which spanned over 12 years. When I needed a home, they opened the doors for a brother.

Actually, were you an official member of the Juice Crew?

Nah, but I held a lot of love for those cats. They put Biz on at an early stage of the hip-hop movement. I was lucky to see it.

How was working with your brother on the album?

Great, I learned a lot of shit. I learned from some of the best of the business like Pete Rock, Large Professor, DJ Mark the 45 King, Premier, Prince Paul and a lot of influential ?muthafukka?s?. I mean I?d say; ?Yo Biz, man, I?m havin a problem lacin the SP1200?, and the next thing you know he got me on the phone wit Pete Rock, the ?muthafukkin SP1200 magician or I?d say; ?I cant lay this drum right?, and he?d call Large Pro or Paul C to teach ME shit.

What?s the meaning behind ?Diamond Shell??

Diamond is hard, shell is a covering...simple. I was diamond before bling was. Nowadays somehow I picked up the name G.I.D.S.

OK G.I.D.S., can we expect some new releases by you?

Most definitely, I am working on some deals now in the U.K. I got so much hot stuff. I?ll post some on myspace and even make it downloadable.

What can we expect from that stuff?

Rap essence, none of the rap radio bullshit. Back to the scratching, break beats and crazy lyrics. I?m tryin to hook up with Crazy Drazy from Das EFX. I got his solo joint. He was at my in-house studio not long ago. Man, that cat is nice. Hookin up wit Craig Mack on some shit too, and a couple of other names y?all would know too.

Tell us more about BigNoize Rec...

It?s an up and coming company that I am working with. They do quite a few things from management to setting up a day to say shit and keeping me focus.

Are you a big Internet user?

Yeah, these days who aint? If you are not using the internet you are at home sitting in the dark.

In what way did it contribute to bringing you back to the game?

I really never been away, I engineer, I produce, I write for my brother. I?m at a point where I pick the projects I dig and stick with those.

You?re the originator of ?Make Em Say HUh?, how did you react when Master P made it a hit?

I like P, he is doing big things. I felt like it was good. And my son loves the Lil Romeo Show. Big up to that whole camp...ay, what ever happened to the P. Miller gear? I was feelin that. P, if you read this ..bring that back man!

You were down with TJ Swann, did you ever get down with TJ Swann & Pee Wee Mel and their group called Maximus 3?

Naah, that is something that Swann did on the side, on his own.

What?s up with TJ Swann nowadays?

Swann is happy as far as I know. Last I remembered he was talking about teaching a class on the ethics of rap, rap history and how to get a record deal.

Besides Kid Capri, were you down with 2Deep and Grandaddy IU, The Genius, artists that also dropped an album in the late Cold Chillin period?

Yeah, those cats were all cool. Capri is my man to this day, we talk now and then. He?s workin on his label Nokidn Records, he?s got a cat named Henny, I?m tellin you straight sick! I?d love to get on that project.

Were you a fan of The Four Seasons? ?Oh What A Night??

Who wasn?t? It was a nice song but I didn?t play it or grow up on it. I grew up on Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Al Green and Barry White, Otis Redding, Black Byrds...

Your album has some famous samples from Herbie Hancock?s ?Watermelon Man?, to Rick James? ?Mary Jane? and Galt McDermot?s ?Black Enough?, did you know all this songs before? Or did you start digging them up afterwards?

I am an original DJ, don?t sleep (laughs)! I been in crates since Biz got me into this when he was with a crew called Midnight Express. He probably don?t want me to mention that but whatever! (laughs) So all those beats come from the history from being a NY basement house DJ slash Club DJ.

How did you like it how Redman flipped the Rick James sample for his ?Smoke Buddah? (on the ?Muddy Waters? LP)?

I dig it, in my opinion Redman is one of the top 10 best rappers ever. I got some old school joint with Biz and Red freestylin at a park in Queens.

How many of the stories told on Grand Imperial Diamond Shell are actually true, ?Giggles?, ?Oh What A Night??

Let?s see... maybe one or two of them. For the most part, it was a story-generated album made from a vivid imagination. But I did have a lot of cats telling me ?Yo son, that shit happened to me for real kid?!

So how many blind dates did Biz really organize for you?

Not one! Matter of fact, we?d go out and I?d say yo ?B?, I?mma go over there and tell that girl I?m ya brother, hook me up man! He?d go tell the broad: ?That guy is gonna come over here and say he?s my brother, he?s LYING?! (Cracks the fuck up) It?s all good though!

Being Biz Markie?s brother, how much has he been a help for your career?

A lot, I mean shit he is my brother. Because of him I was able to walk on so many stages, go so many places and meet so many people.

How often do you see him nowadays?

All the time. We did the DJ conference in Atlanta and I just visited him at his house this past weekend. Talk to him on the phone everyday.

In the infamous cult rap magazine, Fatlace, there was an item called ?Cookin with Diamond Shell?, have you ever read those colums?

I have heard of it but I am not that familiar with it.

When did you start rappin?

The first rap tape we had was a tape by a group called EL Brothers. I started rappin that night (laughs). I can say I was a DJ before I was a rapper!

Who were your early influences?

EL Brothers, Cold Crush, Doctor Rock and the Force MC?s before they became the Force MD?s and Grand Wizard Theodore, Fantasic Romantic 5, the night Busy Bee battled Kool Moe Dee...

What rap albums have you been listening to lately?

I don?t play to many whole albums but the artists I like are Mos Def, Common; the ?BE? album, Method?s new album, euhm, Lord Jamar?s new stuff, Redman on Gillahouse his mixtapes are ?nutz-o? and this kid named Ruck the Illest got a superman joint! I?m feelin Lyfe Jennings. Basicly, I?m stickin to groups like the Roots. I?d love to hear something from Treach of Naughty By Nature!

Here?s a few names, please comment on them:

Cutmaster Cool V

A steady DJ, a cool cat, nothing but love for Cool V. He held it down for my brother for years and years and still continues to do so. He got me out of a few sticky spots too.

Master Don and the Def Committee

To loose Don was like crazy to me. When he passed, I felt like most people felt when Scott La Rock was killed. Pebbly Pooh was so cool, when I met her for the first time, she talked to me like I was a long-time friend..

Jessie West

I loved most of Jessie?s stuf...?Bling bling! Who?s that with Super Cat? Third Eye, Third Eye! Yes black, where are all my troopers at?? I had a 735 BMW, man, I had that joint (Super Cat feat Notorious BIG, Mary J Blige, Puff Daddy and Third Eye aka Jessie West – ?Dolly My Baby? RMX, ed.) on blast! I used to rewind Jessie?s part.

Preacher E.

Stand up guy, loyal hard worker, doin his thing, holdin down BigNoize, gotta love E!

Shout-outs?

Biz Markie, my assistant Pretty Brown Mojay at bignoize.ent, Kid Capri, Dj S&S s, Mack World Records, Craig Mack, Drazy, Das Efx, DJ Doc, J Real, and platform8470 for puttin me on this interview!

 

POSTED 09|01|2006
conducted by cpf

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