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Music Review: Danny Diablo – Thugcore 4 Life

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No stranger to the New York hardcore scene, Danny Diablo aka Lord Ezec has been a staple for years. Having made a name for himself with Dirty Money Syndicate in the early 90s, it wasn’t until 1995 that his side project at the time Skarhead garnered international acclaim with help from many recognizable hardcore personalities from the New York scene. 

Making his return to the musical landscape in a solo manner, Diablo presents us with Thugcore 4 Life (Suburban Noize). He gives us 12 tracks with many notable hardcore and hip hop names. Now, while it may be well-intended, it takes a few tracks listening to really get into what Diablo is all about. Tracks such as “Get Down” and “We Don’t Care” have real basic hardcore riffs with him rapping over it. Nothing spectacular but in a way, it’s almost like a warm up to what’s ahead.  

It isn’t until you get to “I’m  A Shotblocker” featuring Prince Metropolitan, Ceekay and Panic of the Shotblockers – one of the many rap crews Diablo was a part of – that you get a more focused feel on the album. This is East Coast hip-hop done right with a nice flow, which is where Diablo surprises me. I know his love of hardcore runs pretty deep but I think he should leave the rock and head back into hip-hop altogether.  

While the record has multiple producers, Tim Armstrong (Rancid, The Transplants) leaves his production mark with songs like “Livin’ By The Gun”. With a great reggae guitar riff in the background, Diablo manages to bring out his lyrical fierceness and throw modesty out the window, proclaiming that he is the “International Hardcore Superstar”.  

“Satanic Shamrocks” – featuring Skinhead Rob, Slaine, Big Left, and Danny Boy of La Coka Nostra – proves beyond a shadow of doubt why the parental advisory sticker is on the front of the record. That isn’t a knock on Diablo but more of a realization of his seriousness of what he wants to say. It isn’t the rap of today where you repeat something idiotic and have nothing of substance to say. You hear that 1990s underground hip-hop throwback executed nicely.  

Overall:  To the casual listener, this may come off as Kid Rock opting for hardcore instead of classic rock and country, but that isn’t a fair assessment at all. This isn’t arena-ready music but more suited for the underground fans who can hit the club and either bounce to the beats or throw down in the pit. Either way, Danny Diablo will get your attention.   

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About Jerry Rojas