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ALBUM REVIEW

Diamond Mercenaries

Block Drama

Released June 1997

In 1997, when Block Drama hit the streets, all signs pointed to rap group Diamond Mercenaries being the next big thing from Seattle. The hip-hop duo of Black Star and 3D took their name from a 1976 heist film starring Peter Fonda and OJ Simpson. “Introducing brand new casting on your block,” is how the track begins, with a banging beat courtesy of hot new producer Jake One (appearing for the first time on vinyl) and based off a sample from Seattle royalty Quincy Jones. The thought-provoking verses that follow cover quick money made, making deals, street survival strategies… “Crime’s my only topic.” The vinyl-only “Block Drama” single was the seventh release from hip indie label Conception, founded only a few years earlier by superstar DJ Supreme La Rock, Shane Hunt, and The Flavor’s Strath Shepard. And yet… Despite much promise, heaps of praise from critics and DJs, and a rumored full-length album recorded and ready, Diamond Mercenaries only ever released this single and couple of other standalone songs, none of which are available online today. Conception folded not long after and that album never materialized. Diamond Mercenaries blazed bright like a match for only a moment in time. In an interview in The Rocket, Black Star says, “If we get on TV, that’s cool and all, but I ain’t doing it to get on a video. I ain’t doing it to flash gold and diamond rings and all that. I’m doing this to make y’all rock. That’s what I love to do.”