In the last couple of weeks, there has been a rumbling online regarding one woman: Lucy Diamonds. Her name has been thrown around a lot in situation regarding some major figures: Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Oprah, Kentucky Fried Chicken... and many heads might not know who she is -- yet. She dropped a video response to many of these controversies and beefs (part 1 and part 2), and she agreed to speak with rock the dub on these points, as well as shed some light on who she is as a person, her burgeoning career, and the state of the game today...
khal: Many heads out there only know you for your KFC boycott or the various rumors regarding you and cats like Jay-Z, Michael Jackson, Oprah Winfrey and others. Many might not know Lucy Diamonds, the MC. How did you first get into spitting?
Lucy Diamonds: I've been writing my whole life, but really only got into spitting four years ago.
khal: You are based now in Atlanta, but I know you also claim Louisville. Do you feel as though your place on the map can directly affect your style of rhyming or production? If so, how?
Lucy Diamonds: It can definitely affect your style of rhyming if you pay attention to what is going on in those areas… I never pay attention. I never really listen to hip hop on the radio, so I don't get influenced much. I could be anywhere in the world and it would still sound like me. Not only am I an emcee, but I am also very much a producer.
khal: Now, there is no secret that your recent video interview answered a lot of questions about your past (present?) beefs and run-ins with a lot of large figures in the game. How does it feel to be getting so much shine over so much drama and "he say/she say"? Does it hurt to get more play off that stuff than your skills?
Lucy Diamonds: It definitely doesn't hurt. You can't take what people say to heart. That, and the fact that once they do hear the music, most people give me a lot of love for my skills. I definitely don't want the focus to stay on "he say/she say" stuff but as long as it drives people to listen to my music, I can't complain.
khal: One of the biggest stories regarding you is the back and forth between yourself and Jay-Z over various issues, from the signing of Lady Sovereign to the whole "Jay's mom is a lesbian" stuff. If you could do anything differently in regards to that situation, what would it be and why? Also, you made comments regarding portraying a certain role to get on back then… do you know if that's something that goes on/is going on currently?
Lucy Diamonds: I wouldn't change anything that has been said or done, however I have apologized to Jay-Z's mother, Gloria Carter for my disrespectful actions. As far as portraying a certain role, that's something that I watch a lot of artists do, especially trying to get on. Hip-Hop is in a sad state right now. No one really lets music speak for itself, and it's rare to find artists who really break out on their own based solely on their music. They either had some producer with a big name, or a big name feature, or some beef with someone, or they're the first of their kind to attempt their genre of music, something like that. It's never just, "hey wow, this person makes really GREAT music, let's give them a deal and push it." And what's really sad is that that's how it should be. The two most recent artists I can think of, to really break out from great music are John Mayer and Alicia Keys. As far as hip-hop goes, Lupe Fiasco and The Roots are really hot.
khal: Yo, on your track "Check To Check", you said you still rock VHS tapes. Now I won't front, I have a trash bag full of VHS joints in my basement… but you mean to tell me that you haven't gotten into the DVD game yet? How hard is the plight of the MC who is barely making it? Has there ever been an instance where you wanted to quit?
Lucy Diamonds: No, I have a good size DVD collection now. When I wrote 'Check to Check,' I was living in my car, homeless, and sleeping at rest areas throughout Florida. I was completely broke. I had nothing. I even pawned my VHS and CD collections for gas money. That song is about every run-down apartment I've lived in, my situation at the time, and I added a little inspiration from the Outkast lyric I used as the hook for the song. "At the end of the week, I live by the beat, like you live check to check, if you don't move your feet, then I don't eat, so we're like neck to neck." Also, we are working out all the details with Outkast and Chrysalis to have the lyrics and sample cleared for commercial release.
khal: Now, you have an album forthcoming entitled Poor Dream Redemption. What can people expect to hear on this long player? Is this coming out independently or are you currently signed?
Lucy Diamonds: I'm signed. My record label is a little upset at my recent publicity so I will keep them quiet.
khal: From peeping your MySpace page, you're linked to both Roc Raida and Jay's former signee Amil. How did you link up with these two? What MCs/producers/singers/etc. would you like to work with, and why?
Lucy Diamonds: I hooked up with Amil by fate. I had a long list of 'this person can hook you up with this person' and most so-called connections never panned out, until eventually one did. And if I've ever met someone who was completely real in this game, it's Amil. She and I are very much alike, and that's why it just worked with us. And she's still a dear friend of mine, even though she is upset with me over this whole Jay-Z thing too.
I met Roc Raida through a mutual friend, and was so excited to be able to add that element of his wizardry. A lot of people don't realize what talent it takes to really freak a turntable, and Raida is just plain ill! He's a great guy too- totally humble, totally cool. He's the best DJ in the world!
khal: Based on your hustle, you've been covered predominately online. Do you feel as though your current exposure is a plus or a minus when you go to drop an album?
Lucy Diamonds: Definitely a plus- any exposure is a plus while you're breaking out. You just never want to get overexposed like 50 Cent where people can't stand to hear what you have to say. Like Eminem said, 'and when you're run is over just admit when it's at its end...' And seeing as how I'm just beginning, everything's really working out in my favor. And as far as online goes that is where everything is happening. The digital revolution is here. People are talking… Like Paul Wall said, I got the internet going nuts!
khal: In terms of sales, you can have a large hype online that does not come back to fill your pockets when your album drops. What are your feelings regarding how much exposure you need to obtain offline to make this thing worth your while? Are you motivated to stack paper off of your mic skills, or is there a higher calling for you?
Lucy Diamonds: I'm not looking to fill my pockets. I believe music is a gift, and it was given to me, so why shouldn't I give it to others? I give away a lot of my music- mixtapes, promo cd's, all kinds of stuff. People will give me an address, and I'll just mail it to them. I just want them to hear it, and what makes it worthwhile is that they enjoy it.
khal: To step outside of yourself and your career for a bit, what do you see as being "wrong" with the industry currently? If you could be Jay and own a large Hip-Hop label, what do you think you would do differently to help benefit the consumer?
Lucy Diamonds: First of all, Jay said, 'I'm overcharging the industry for what they did to the Cold Crush.' Yet he just pockets the money and didn't give it back to the Cold Crush, and the other hip-hop pioneers that paved the way for current hip-hop. You never see him trying to help support, or put on our pioneers. But all that needs to change. I encourage every rap artist to give back. We owe it to the originators who took the pilgrimage for us to be who we are. We need to protect our roots, how else can we continue to grow?
khal: In the past, as mentioned before, you were involved in a KFC boycott. How long have you held these views in regards to KFC's practices? Are you going to address these further on the album?
Lucy Diamonds: I've been with PETA for about a year and a half. A big part of what PETA does is to not only actively strive for change in the way animals are treated, but to educate. The people, who do nothing, are one of two people, they either don't care or they simply don't know. PETA is a great organization that strives to educate people about animal abuse, and then encourage them to make a difference by active participation or simply just supporting PETA's efforts. There are so many little things people can do in their everyday lives to help support, it's not all huge protests and campaigns. At www.petaworld.com you can find tons of ways to help support PETA and get involved.
khal: Outside of Hip-Hop and being an activist, how does Lucy Diamonds spend the rest of her time? Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years or so?
Lucy Diamonds: Activist... I like that. Someone at my label just told me I was becoming more of an activist than an artist. Good! There is no faith without actions, so get up and go do something worthwhile. I'm really getting into the Bible lately, so hopefully in 5 years or so, I'll be able to use my activist-like nature to help spread the Word of God.
khal: Are you going to be touring for the album? If so, where can people catch you?
Lucy Diamonds: I signed with a top booking agency who is actively putting together a North American tour. I also plan on touring the UK and Australia real soon. Keep checking my website for tour dates, tour diaries, etc.
khal: Do you have any final thoughts or pieces of advice to give to MCs who might be trying to get more shine?
Lucy Diamonds: Don't listen to what anyone says, and don't let anything influence what you feel you need to do, period.
Lucy Diamonds on MySpace
Poor Dream Redemption on MySpace