Lucy Diamonds: Diamond In The Rough

Though she already had a buzz going on among industry scouts, it was an infamous MySpace interview that pushed Lucy Diamonds into the limelight. Not only did the female rapper come clean about her awkward understanding with Jay-Z, she went a step further by taking shots at his mother, 50, Oprah and Lady Sovereign, who apparently put her signature under a contract that was meant for Lucy. Now that the bitterness has ended, Miss Diamonds can be found in church or in the studio instead of on the battle field.

In an exclusive interview with Ballerstatus, the Atlanta native looks back on her controversial behavior and gives us the 411 on her upcoming album, Poor Dream Redemption, and collaborations with the likes of Grand Puba and Aasim. You’re in Atlanta, a city that has experienced a major growth in hip-hop. What’s your opinion on snap music?

Lucy Diamonds: I’ve never really been into that style of music. I just can’t figure out how a city that birthed such an innovative and original group like Outkast can turn around and embrace the music that’s going on now. I’ve been living in Atlanta for over a year, but I never really paid attention to what went on in this city as far as hip-hop music. I’ve met some really good people who I will be friends with all my life. There is also a great church in Atlanta, First Baptist Church of Woodstock, that I really got to enjoy, and would recommend that anyone in the Atlanta area to check it out. I understood that you feel hip-hop is in a sad state right now. What keeps you motivated to stay in the business?

Lucy Diamonds: I have a hard time staying motivated in this business. Sometimes people have a hard time labeling my music as hip-hop. Case in point, I was just nominated for R&B Artist of The Year for the 2nd Annual Get’em Magazine Awards next month … R&B? It is such an honor to be nominated, but I am the essence of hip-hop to the core. My music is emceeing and it’s positive, authentic hip-hop. Even though I like real piano, guitars, strings … it’s still hip-hop. I have been leaning more towards the melodic formula, but the words still come from my book of poetry. Hip-hop needs to grow. It’s too stagnant right now. Hip-hop doesn’t have to be so shallow. There is a deeper shade to this art form that I’m trying to reflect. Are you content about the status of female rappers in the business?

Lucy Diamonds: I don’t pay attention to them at all. I can’t really comment on any of the female rappers today. I do love Lauryn Hill though. I just got her “Unplugged” album again and I was blown away. Musically and lyrically, she is amazing. She is a genuine artist. In what way do you feel you differ from female rappers like Foxy, Lil Kim, Gloria Velez and Remy Ma?

Lucy Diamonds: First off I’d have to say, God is my center and it’s all about his glorification, so that is a big difference. A lot of people, including some of these rappers, use the term “Christian” so casually and there’s a lot more to bear than what most people care to admit. I won’t even limit this to just female emcees, but celebrities in general care too much about a materialistic lifestyle. That red carpet is stained blood red from all the people that get stepped all over for someone else to get there. How many bodies and people were trampled? Believe me, I’ve had that mind state before too, hence all the controversial things I’ve said, but I am a different person now. People, and especially female artists, shouldn’t have to compromise their morals. I think there is a wave of really good female emcees about to emerge. I also encourage the females who are in the industry to make a move for a better position within the industry. I mean, after all, a female is running for President of the United States… I think we could use some females to be President of the major labels too. Hip-hop is in need of a woman’s touch. In hip-hop and R&B, females promote their body and basically try to portray themselves as sex symbols to improve their record sales. You don’t seem to care about looking sexy or showing off your goodies, am I right? Was it a conscious decision?

Lucy Diamonds: Yeah, I could care less about that. When I started out in this game a little over three years ago, I promised I would never try and glamorize sex and a promiscuous manner in music. A lot of people have suggested that I show off what I got, but I won’t. I want to keep the focus on the music, and now, my testimony. Your album, Poor Dream Redemption, is slated for release in June. Describe the process you underwent while making the album. Did you encounter any difficulties, how did you come up with the subject matter and how did you put together a team of people to work with?

Lucy Diamonds: There have been plenty of difficulties in making this album and I am still working on it. A lot of people have spent money and time. Looking back now, I had no idea that while I was making this album, I was also making the person who I am today. Most of the recording that has actually made on the record was done in Orlando, FL in a studio called The Delivery Room. We mixed a lot of the record in Atlanta, GA, and I plan on finishing the album in either Nashville, TN or Louisville, KY. Who do you have on the album, as far as production and collaborations?

Lucy Diamonds: I’ve had many big features and collaborations, but I’ve cut so many songs out because of the negative lyrical content I was doing. I’ve worked with tons of major producers and artists, but the album isn’t about that anymore. I’ve had the same producers as Jay-Z, Eminem, Tupac and Biggie, but it’s just not about that. The music has turned into a different direction, and good music is good music… a name means nothing. I am so fortunate to have even met some of the people I have, let alone had the chance to work with them. But now, the focus is on spirituality, adoration, and trying to uplift who ever listens to it. God is the inspiration. Amil is working on some new material. How would you describe your current personal and business relationship with her?

Lucy Diamonds: I’m very thankful to have met her. She is a dear friend of mine. We don’t really talk as much as before, when we were working together. We’ve just gone in different personal directions, but I just talked to her last week. There is no animosity between us or anything. Sometimes I really miss just hanging out with her everyday, ’cause that’s how it was when I was with her in Winston-Salem, NC. She is a wonderful person and mother. Amil is not the person that was portrayed in the media after she left Roc-A-Fella. Last year, you released a video interview in which you claimed to be a victim of a blacklisting campaign by some music industry insiders, notably by Jay-Z. How do you look back on the media hype that developed when you went public with your story?

Lucy Diamonds: I’m sad to say that interview I did is part of what represents the problem of hip-hop, not the solution. I didn’t solve anything. I apologized for what I said about Jay-Z’s mother, but I still stand firmly behind my beliefs on his blasphemous lyrical content, and I leave that to God. I do believe God has a plan for Jay. On a side note, I also want to apologize for some of the unpleasant things I said to Memphis Bleek. The criticism that came along with it must have been no surprise to you. People accused you of being hungry for attention and trying to get your career off the ground. How has the whole Jay-Z thing really affected your career?

Lucy Diamonds: It hasn’t. It just made me stop and look around at what I was doing. My personal life changed directions, and of course, that will affect the direction of my project. I was saved last August, and have since been devoting the majority of my time into studying the Bible. I had to get myself back together, spiritually, before I could expect to make anything work in any other area of my life.

I haven’t been focusing on media. I haven’t really been focusing on music. I took a break from writing and recording, and did a few songs here and there, but I’m really just now getting back into the studio to finish the remainder of the album. In all fairness, the album was complete — mastered and everything last July. I wanted to step away for a couple of months and not listen to the music at all, that way I could pick it back up with fresh ears and really judge what was good enough to stay and what had to be cut from the record. I didn’t plan on God changing all my plans, though. Now, I look at everything differently, and try to use all my gifts to glorify God in the best way possible. So when it came time to listen to the album again, we ended up cutting out at least half of it, maybe a little more. And like I said, I did a few songs here and there since then, but now it’s time to quit playing around. I’ve got a lot of great ideas, and I’m really anxious to get my team together and really get down to finishing up what’s left of the record. Are you on speaking terms with Jay-Z and people from his camp?

Lucy Diamonds: Since then I have spoken with Jay-Z on good terms. Before his album Kingdom Come dropped, he contacted me about the possibility of Def Jam matching an offer that I had just received at that time. I also just did a deal with Swagger Wireless whose clients include Jay-Z and Roc-A-Fella Records. Swagger also has a management company that is affiliated with Roc-A-Fella. The Lucy Diamonds/Swagger Wireless ringtones are available now. You recently recorded a track with Bad Boy recording artist Aasim called “New Life.” Tell me more about the track and how the two of you met.

Lucy Diamonds: Aasim is cool, very down to earth. I met him at Daddy’s House (Puffy’s studio) in NYC, which was funny because less than a year before we did the song, I was standing outside Daddy’s House, rhyming for people out in the street, trying to get my demos to everyone going in that building, just to try to get it to Diddy. And before I knew it, I was in there with Aasim, and the Bad Boy staff. So I have to thank Sean Cane and Greyson Salmon for hooking me up with Aasim and making that collaboration possible.

I loved working with Aasim, and I love the song too. It’s about rebirth. It’s like looking in the mirror, but the reflection that you see is the person you were, not who you are anymore. Jon Hay and Sky Michaels produced “New Life” and my radio promotion team, PoloworkzPromo, is about to release it to radio. I have it up on my MySpace page, Do you feel that your career has good prospects after your ups and downs in the business?

Lucy Diamonds: It’s as good as anyone trying to break into the music business. It’s been exactly the way you said — up and down. I just know that God will have things the way he wants them. Who am I to complain? Now you criticized quite a lot of people in the business — 50 Cent, Miss Info, Lady Sovereign — But who are some people that you admire and have inspired you as an artist?

Lucy Diamonds: First off, I do admire the fact that Lady Sovereign is working as hard as she is. Her record sales are low, but she is still going out and touring and working hard. I might not personally be a fan of her music, but I respect her work ethic. Keep doing your thing. As far as my criticism of 50 Cent and Miss Info, I was unrighteous in that too. I should never lash out at people. I know I mentioned it earlier, but I love Lauryn Hill. I also love John Mayer, literally. Dump Jessica Simpson. Literally. [laughs]

Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot more Christian music: Jars of Clay, Kutless, Barlow Girl, Audio Adrenaline, Ordained Praise, and Group 1 Crew. Something completely different; you support PETA. What made you decide to do so and why would you recommend others to support their activities?

Lucy Diamonds: While I’m not as radical as I was, or as PETA is known for being. I believe they are a great organization in defending animal rights. PETA has been very supportive of me, and I will continue to help and support them in any way I can. I also have another vegetarian/vegan sponsor, Purely Decadent Dairy Free. They have the most amazing ice cream! You will also be working outside your comfort zone. Tell me more about your acting aspirations and how it developed into your current movie role.

Lucy Diamonds: There aren’t exactly any real acting aspirations, but I do want to push the music video envelope. So we’re combining two songs from the album and making a mini-movie. The mini-movie is going to be directed by Spike Lee’s protégée Lee Davis. It’s the music video for the lead single off the album called, “Soul Searching,” which is produced by Paolo Rustichelli (who’s worked with Miles Davis, Santana, Herbie Hancock), and another song, “Blood Diamonds,” which features the Labratz and an amazing sax solo by Benny Reid (Concord Music Group). Separately, we’ll be releasing a video for the song, “Glamorous Life,” directed by Grant Kahler. What other projects are you currently working on?

Lucy Diamonds: I’m putting the finishing touches on my mixtape with DJ King called Conflict Diamonds. I work on some random genres of stuff that I like, but never intend for anyone else to hear it. I am planning on releasing a book of poetry called The Other Side of Something when the album drops in June. Other than that, I’m relocating to Louisville KY soon, so I’m just thinking of ideas on how to decorate my new place. Oh yeah, I’m also working out a new arrangement for the song, “Water Of Life” with Grand Puba. It’s crazy! Anything else the Ballerstatus readers should know about Lucy Diamonds?

Lucy Diamonds: I’m still growing as a person and an artist, and I know that a lot of what I say or do comes across as hypocritical to people who knew me before I was saved. Please understand, I am not that same person. And I know that I can’t simply explain those things away there’s a lot out there that I’m ashamed of. I just hope that the good I’m doing and the new direction I’m going in will be a positive way for me to share with people about the God I’ve come to know. That’s my purpose.

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