By Tim Anderl
Known for his guitar playing and vocal appearances on Psychopathic Records products for the last 20 years, Legz Diamond has final released his debut album, 9 Pistolas, with his musical crime syndicate, the Purple Gang. Built on a foundation of old school funk, rock and hip-hop, the record draws inspiration from one of Detroits most infamous crime syndicates – one that terrorized the Midwest during the Prohibition era. Pistolas follows in kind with the story of a small time gangster’s rise to criminal power.
Ghettoblaster caught up with Legz to discuss the record, which was released March 19 bia Psychopathic. This is what he had to say about his debut, collaborators, recording and performing…
You’ve been a professional musician for 20 years, but 9 Pistolas is the debut record for Legz Diamond. Why now?
It was simply a matter of timing. Working with Insane Clown Posse is like playing chess, we are always three moves ahead plotting our next play. It has to be that way in order to pull off the incredible amount of work we do.
For instance, during the making of ICP’s Mighty Death Pop, a four-record set, mind you, we also did the American Psycho Tour; the New Years Ninja Party in Worchester, Massachusetts; Hatchet Attacks in Farmington, New Mexico; the Gathering of the Juggalos at Cave In Rock, Illinois; The Hallowicked Tour, Juggalo Championship Wrestling, multiple music videos, etc. That doesn’t leave much spare time.
We had a very small window of opportunity after The Mighty Death Pop to pull this off, but the planets lined up for us and we managed to finally do this long-awaited project.
How long has this album been in the making?
They say you have your whole life to write your first album and I guess that’s true. This idea has been simmering for many years, yet the actual making of 9 Pistolas was done in a matter of weeks during late 2012.
How did you conceive the story behind 9 Pistolas?
I have always been an aficionado of the gangster era and growing up in Detroit, there were always tales of the Purple Gang. My grandfather ran a funeral car business and knew most of them. There was a safe house with escape tunnels that we used to play in as kids and I also spent a lot of time in one of their bookie joints, Lieters Bar on 2nd Street. They left an indelible mark on the city and this is my way of honoring their memory.
Are there deeper life lessons you hope resonate with the listener?
I don’t know, it wasn’t really written on a philosophical level, more for storytelling and entertainment value rather than some deeper meaning. However, there are some common themes that I think anyone can relate to and that to me is good music. If your imagination wants to find a life lesson in there, then so be it.
How did you get Bushwick Bill to appear?
During the making of 9 Pistolas, the Geto Boys reunited to play at Detroit’s Chene Park amphitheater with Ice Cube. We, of course, were at the show being huge Geto Boys (and Cube) fans from day one. While we were backstage choppin’ it up, it got mentioned that we were in studio bringin’ the fire. One thing led to another and next day at the studio, right on time…boom! Bushwick Bill in all his freshness was standing in the vocal booth, layin’ it down. It was magic.
What did your other contributors bring to the table?
Sugar Slam brought her amazing energy and phenomenal vocals, and Jumpsteady brought his swagger and karma to round out what I consider to be a super group dream team. Having ICP producing was like just like home to me, we have a straight up telepathic connection in the studio.
The only other guest appearance was Cold 187um (aka Big Hutch). He is a very good friend of mine, we’ve spent many days on the road together and I had a small hand in helping produce his album The Only Solution. He very graciously offered to guest on “So Fresh” and I am telling you, that was one of the biggest moments in my career. Big Hutch not only is a straight up living legend, he is one of the most talented artists I have ever worked with. A true pro with skills for days. I’ve learned so much from him. Having him ask to be on my record was a huge honor for me. And goddamn, did he bring the heat!
What do you enjoy most about being a musician?
For me, it’s seeing people having a good time, forgetting about their troubles and escaping their reality for a while. If I can provide the soundtrack to that experience, then I have been truly successful.
Do you prefer performing or recording music?
I love doing studio. Being in the lab with your boys making this magic happen right before your eyes is an experience like no other. That being said, there is nothing like performing either — the energy transfer in the room, the instant feedback in the reaction of the crowd, I live for those moments. So to answer your question – both! I couldn’t live without either.
The album has been out for a few days now. What is the best compliment you’ve received about it?
A good friend of mine, who is a relative of Don Henley of The Eagles, called to tell me that “It sounded like you guys had a lot of fun in the studio making this.” To have someone recognize that we captured that vibe on CD affirms we did our job well.
What milestones were you able to achieve with “9 Pistolas” that you’d never achieved before?
While I’ve appeared on dozens of records over the years, this is the first one that’s mostly just me. I consider myself a singer first, but I have never really had an opportunity to show that off fully. I also have a great love for my first instrument, the acoustic guitar. I explore that as well and in fact put emphasis on it.
By contrast, there is not much electric guitar on the album, and that is a big switch for me. So I guess I’m showing a side of me that hasn’t been seen much, but at the end of the day is the real me doing what I love to do most.
What song on that record are you most proud of?
I hate to choose favorite songs. Songs to me are like children, you like different ones for different reasons. If I did have to choose one it would probably be “Made Man” just because of how it came together. I got the inspiration from a book Violent J was reading called “Hitman.” The song was written in about 20 minutes in the morning before a session. It just fell together and kind of wrote itself. I love it when that happens.
What plans do you have to tour in support of the record?
The Crime Family Tour will depart this summer headed for a town near you. Come out and holla at ya boy. A good time is guaranteed to be had by all.