At age 15 most teenage girls are obsessing over boys and the school dance but Diamond was shaking her dreads and spitting hardcore rhymes with her group, Crime Mob. The Atlanta-based crew garnered attention with 2004’s “Knuck If You Buck” and continued what seemed like a promising career until the group split in 2007. Diamond, however, refused to fade into obscurity and began surfacing on the Atlanta scene as a socialite while also building her own following on the mixtape circuit and joining a collective of women called the Bad Bitch Click that also consists of Tiny (yeah, T.I.'s future wife), Toya Carter (Wayne's baby's mama), Rasheeda and Kandi Burruss.
It also doesn’t hurt that her boyfriend is Lil Scrappy. Although she’s private about their relationship, Diamond gives the rapper credit for improving her business acumen. If it’s true that people can be guilty by association, then success might be on the verge for Ms. 32 Flavaz as a result of the company she keeps. Diamond is one of the few female rappers with a major label deal and she’s currently riding high from her recent cameo on Ludacris’ “My Chick Bad.” Now preparing to reintroduce the world to her grown-up self, Diamond chats with VIBE about her solo career and why women need to check their emotions when it comes to business. ⎯Starrene Rhett
VIBE: People were saying you had beef when you split with Crime Mob. What happened?
Diamond: It wasn’t something that I decided on my own. It was something that I was forced to do but we learned. Everybody grows. We recently came together. They did a cameo on my new video “Lotta Money,” so I think the world gonna be surprised to see that. And we still talk.
How did you become the group’s breakout star once you left?
I just kept being persistent when it became about survival for me. When I was in the group it wasn’t about survival; it was just about fun. People had different hobbies but my only hobby was music so I guess once you want your bread and butter you gonna go hard.
What can people expect from your debut album?
I don’t have a release date yet but people can expect to hear from me as a mature female artist who can do different things. I can talk about love, life, the way I view it, my struggles, the same thing that my Crime Mob fans fell in love with me about but I’m just more well rounded.
Who are you working with?
I can speak on songs that got leaked. I got songs that got leaked with Lloyd, Keri Hilson, Three Six Mafia and I think a Jim Jonsin record leaked too. I’m trying to keep it under wraps because I don’t understand how my records keep getting leaked.
“Superbad” was an official single, right?
No, it was just a wake up call to let everybody know that this is me. My official single is “Lotta Money,” and the video should be out by second week of August.
How much did you pick up from Scrappy career-wise?
A lot. He’s the most important key factor in me handling my business as a woman and not being emotional. He showed the difference between men and women handling business and why it’s so much easier for men to work with men and why men don’t want to work with women because of how sometimes we make decisions out of emotion and when it comes to business you can’t have any emotion at all. And just the boss that he is and see how he is and humbles himself to work with other bosses. He understands that sometimes you gotta make certain career moves and positions to better yourself so that you can succeed.
What are some of the other challenges that woman have to deal with?
It’s been a bad situation from the beginning. Women have been having to get approval by men. It’s not easy for women to just be on their own. I would consider myself being on my own because I was originally on Scrappy’s label but now that we’re in a relationship⎯and I rarely speak on my relationship⎯I went my own way and I keep my relationship private. So you rarely see me standing alone. It’s not no dude who’s label I’m signed to. And it seems like the ones who had men as far as Eve with the Ruff Ryders, Trina with Trick Daddy, Foxy with Jay, Kim and Biggie, it seems like those are the ones who have been more successful because men can influence other men like, “Hey I put my stamp of approval on her,” and women are the ones who are just gonna follow you anyway because women are the ones who buy the records.
Speaking of Scrappy, what happened with the Mr. and Mrs. Smith mixtape you were supposed to put out with him?
We’re gonna wait because people are getting too caught up in our relationship and not focused on us as artists so we’re just trying to get back out there and separate our relationship from the limelight and just get back on business.
The question of the century is: What’s up with the state of women in hip-hop?
It’s important right now. It’s fun again, everybody was chilling but they not chillin' no more and if they wasn’t nowhere, they somewhere now. It’s important for us to have variety. Just like men have a variety of rappers, I think it’s important for women to have variety because for so long we’ve been faced with one thing or two things. Everybody might not like me or the second choice but they might like the third. So it’s important for us to have choices because men can’t really speak for women.
Why is it so hard for people to see past a woman’s looks when it comes to hip-hop?
I think that’s a plus because other women should want to be you and men should want to get with you as long as it’s done tastefully where it’s not sleazy or slutty.
It keeps coming up lately that Lil Kim is claiming that Nicki Minaj needs to pay her homage, what are your thoughts about that?
I could care less because I’m caught up in Diamond’s world and that has nothing to do with me. But as far as people paying homage, I feel like you should pay homage to a certain extent⎯not saying that you gotta go around carrying people bags but it would be nice to pay respect to people who did it before you.
Are you hopping on the reality TV trend any time soon?
I want to save that as my final straw if things don’t work out the way I want them to. I don’t want to do that now and then not able to do it later. That’s kind of like my joker that you keep in your back pocket that you save until the end.
What do you want everyone to take away from Diamond?
I just want people to feel about me how they feel about [Mary J. Blige]. They seen her go through her good times and her bad times. I just want people to feel like they’re a part of my growth and feel like they’re part of my happiness, my sadness, my struggles and not make the mistakes that I made or know they’re not alone because I’m going through it or I been through it, too.