Brockton Bred Danny Diesel spills gas with ‘On Dawgs’ video
Boston rapper Danny Diesel of DieselMania Productions dropped at midnight, delivering the powerful video for his single “On Dawgs” which released earlier this year. Read the full interview to learn all about his brilliantly unique sound, and the long road Diesel traveled to find his artistic identity.
Boston Culture: Where did you grow up? What was that like?
Danny Diesel: I was originally born in Boston out in Dorchester and lived in Upham’s Corner ‘til I was like 5 then moved to Brockton. I grew up around North Warren Ave in that whole area by Pic Park & later Wilmington St. up in the deeper Northside. Growin’ up was tough, I was the youngest out of a big fam and we were poor, I remember coming home sometimes to no light, living on food stamps, shit like that. I also lived in a wild hood where even at 8 years old I was almost killed by stray gunfire, my dad was a former hustler & he got murdered when I was 13 & my other siblings were grown so it was just me and Mom Dukes, so I had to learn how to hustle and get mine, cause wasn’t nobody else gonna get it for me, you know? It was around that time when I really started gettin’ lost in music as sort of an escape to all that and started producing since I was getting tired of rapping over other dudes beats. If it wasn’t for all that struggle? No way would I even be here talking to you, because it was all that struggle that made me want to escape and me wanting to escape made me practice and perfect my craft & that’s what got me as good as I am now, to be here even worth being interviewed so I appreciate all those times regardless.
Boston Culture: How did you get your name?
Danny Diesel: Well, I started rapping at 10 & back then my rap name was “D-Man”. Cheesy as all hell cause it was supposed to be like I was “the man”, haha; even to this day my closest friends call me that since that’s how they knew me coming up, but as I got further in my career I realized it was pretty generic. Once got to high school my boy Bigs gave me the name “Diesel D” cause I was known for battling dudes back then and he said my pen game was like “shooting that diesel in your veins ‘til you OD”. That, combined with my real name became “Danny Diesel” which is what I go by now. “DieselMania” came afterwards when I was thinking of a name for my both my production company and my overall production sound. That’s why I call it “The ‘Mania” cause once you hear it? You go crazy. “Diesel” with “The ‘Mania”. “DieselMania”.
Boston Culture: Talk to us about "DieselMania" - from its inception stages to the creative recording process. What was the initial inspiration?
Danny Diesel: To bring back the point I said before, I was looking for a name for my production sound cause not to brag or toot my own horn, but I feel like the sound and style we’re doin’ over here on this side with Sky High and DieselMania is one of one. You can’t find it anywhere else because it’s literally MY sound. I spent years trying to find the perfect balance of soul and trap, of technique and style, of vibe, of everything before coming out with this. In fact, I was working on something entirely different to begin with and ended up shelfing it because “DieselMania” was intended to be a mixtape where I was just doing some light work before my actual album, but during the creative process, I found my whole sound beginning to change and form into something new that even I wasn’t familiar with since it was all new territory and sort of an evolution of what I was doing before combined with all the new inspiration and vibes I was getting from everywhere else and it took on a life of it’s own.
From there I decided to make “DieselMania” more about the sound and style than about the actual songs or lyrics or whatever. The album is meant to be just pressed play once on. I don’t call it an album; I call it an “experience” because everything flows into each other with all the samples and beat breaks and sequencing. It’s like throwing a bunch of things together and blending them to make a smoothie. Once the smoothie is blended; you can’t UNBLEND it. It’s meant to be all taken in as one whole thing where all the little things combined form one work of art instead of a bunch of separate songs. Sound-wise, I was inspired to make it sound like a J Dilla/Madlib album combined with a Metro Boomin’/Trap type album which again, is something most people wouldnt attempt and that’s why I said it was a one of one sound; the “DieselMania Sound”.
Boston Culture: What was the best advice you got early in your career?
Danny Diesel: Two things, really: Always keep moving forward & don’t force it. “Always keep moving forward” is self explanatory because you don’t wanna go backwards and the minute you stop? Someone’s gonna pass you by and now YOU gotta catch up. If you’re always moving forward, you’ll start getting ahead of the curve and by then YOU’LL be setting the trends instead of following them.
“Don’t force it” is just like it says; don’t force anything if it doesn’t come natural. I can’t begin to tell you how many unfinished beats or rhymes I have. I don’t force them because the minute you start forcing shit, it either comes out wack or weak. Instead of forcing it; go out, live life and let the inspiration come to you. It always does and when it does come? It usually comes heavy and you find yourself making some fire. The key is FINDING that inspiration and you find it by doing things you love or watching other people do what they love and being inspired by them. Everything else will fall in place if you got the dope shit behind it and the work ethic to keep going and not get discouraged.
Boston Culture: Walk us through the first time you ever made a beat. What inspired you, what did you make it on, etc.
Danny Diesel: Aww, man, the first beat I made was SUPER WACK! Haha, I’m talking crazy wack. I made it on FL Studio which was called “Fruity Loops” back then that my cousin Jason aka Where’s Nasty from Stay Silent out in Providence gave me back when we used to rap together (Shoutout Ill Squad!) I really just wanted to be like my idols J Dilla, Kanye & Just Blaze; even just learning the beat machine itself took me like a month to learn how to program drums. Eventually, I learned how to sample and that was when things started falling in place.
The first beat I can remember being PROUD of myself for making though? It was the summer before my sophomore year of High School and I sampled Nas’ “Made You Look”. Beat loud as hell and super wack looking back at it now but back then I thought it was the hottest shit ever, haha. I went to school the next week and was playing it for everyone and that’s really when my legend started to grow as a producer cause people was putting the battery in my back like “Yo, D making ALBUM type beats now” or “Yeah, that make me wanna spit suttin’!” From there? I was literally making beats every single day.
Boston Culture: Top 3 favorite producers?
Danny Diesel: That’s easy, just said ‘em: J Dilla, Kanye West & Just Blaze. Those are my three idols. Just Blaze’s beat he made for Freeway’s “What We Do” is the beat that made me go “I need to learn how to make stuff like that!” Kanye was my idol up until recently; that dude set the blueprint for my whole career basically, I don’t know where I would be without Kanye and J Dilla is simply the greatest producer that ever walked the Earth. There are other producers that have had more success or a greater impact than those three but to me? They’ve had the biggest impact in my life, for sure.
Boston Culture: What do you dislike about the art world/music industry?
Danny Diesel: The fakery/high school-ness of it. The best way to explain it is imagine a person wearing the best clothes and is fresh to death when you look at him, but when he turns around? He got no clothes on his back and his ass is all out. A lot of people put on a front and that gets them a lil’ following or fame and it turns them into dickheads or clout chasers which leads to more people being bigger clout chasers to get more clout. Instead of just being cool, they’d rather LOOK cool and then wonder why they getting exposed as a lame or a weirdo or some sort of rat or something. Dudes just be faking the funk and don’t realize there’s a million other niggas are faking the funk too so now you lost in that whole crowd of Funk Fakers trying to impress other funk fakers that’s just gonna leave you for the next, when a real one just gonna be him and rock with whatever he attracts. That’s what I’m trying to bring back cause I know the music gon’ speak for itself and I’m always me 24/7 3-6-5 so you gon’ get me at all times, no pump fake.
Boston Culture: Who or what are some of your biggest influences? Talk to us about your cultural roots.
Danny Diesel: Well, besides my three biggest influences on the production side of J Dilla, Kanye & Just, I can definitely say my overall culture growing up had a big impact on what would become the “DieselMania Sound”. I’m Cape Verdean and both my parents were born in Cape Verde. They came over here after living there dirt poor in a shack with dirt floors raising my other siblings. They knew REAL poverty which is why I’m always grateful for everything I get and it shows in my music. Also, growing up, my parents played a lot of Cape Verdean music which is really island based and very melodic which as I grew up I realized really influenced my production in the way I compose melodies or ideas for songs I may have that were influenced by memories and vibes I had as a kid. Lyrically, I used to buy the albums and study guys like Nas, Jay-Z, Rakim and listen to how they wrote and structured their rhymes. Into high school it became dudes like Cassidy, Big L, Lupe Fiasco, etc. All of those influences would swirl together and form DieselMania which is what the world is rockin’ with today.
Boston Culture: Talks to us about your younger mentality and what allowed you to stay focused on your goals.
Danny Diesel: From when I was 10 years old, being one of the greatest Hip-Hop artists of all time was the only thing I ever wanted to be in my life. I always knew I could never see myself at no desk or working for somebody else cause this is all my heart wants. That and growing up poor and knowing what it’s like to struggle and wanting to get out of that is what kept me going even to this day. I also was more mature than most so I knew that in order to get the big things; you have to do the little things so every day I would try to do little things that eventually added up to big things. Every piece of struggle was just more fuel to make me go harder. And trust it was hard, there were times where I strayed away and started getting involved with the streets, drugs, beef, etc etc., but the music was always what guided me and made me perfect my craft cause I knew it was either this or bust. And busting was simply not an option.
Boston Culture : What do you think of the music scene in the State? Are there any other Boston producers or artists you'd potentially like to collab with in the future?
Danny Diesel: Without question, we are in the greatest time in history for Mass rap. There are so many great artists doing their thing right now; it’s crazy. At the rate we’re going now; we can really be a central hub of Hip-Hop talent like New York or Atlanta if everyone keeps going and putting out fire like we have and I’m just happy to be considered a part of it. Even starting in Brockton from Sky High to guys like Van Buren, Packy Marciano, DtheFlyest to guys like Avenue, 7981 Kal, Stizz, BoriRock, ShooterzMuzik out in Boston to Millyz in Cambridge up to dudes like ST. Da Squad up in Lawrence, Estee Nack in Lynn, yeah, there’s a lot of dudes that’s nice AF and I would work with for sure if I got the chance, especially the up and comers people AREN’T as familiar with as well; I’m all for working with Mass cats. Producers as well there’s a gang of dudes making flames! Shoutout Humbeats, Billy Loman, my guy AyyDot, my big homie GxWay, more young cats that I’m forgetting at the moment, but trust I’m trying to work with anyone from Mass that’s nice, dog. Especially if their from Brockton since that’s home; that’s mandatory.
Boston Culture : Tell us about your goals for 2021. Where will you be by the end of the year. Let's start manifesting that now.
Danny Diesel: For sure my number one goal for this year is to introduce the “DieselMania Sound” to as many ears as humanly possible cause I feel it’s like good dope: It’s gonna sell itself once you get a taste of it; all you need to do is hear it once and you’ll be hooked. I plan on accomplishing that by putting out more content whether it be music, visuals, merch, vlogs, more collaborations with artists, more art, and just overall more dope shit. Creatively, I can’t be stifled and always am thinking of the next best thing so my mind is constantly going a mile a minute and this year is all about getting that creativity out to the masses in any way, shape or form by any means necessary. We’ve started by creating DieselMania.net which will eventually serve as the home hub for all of which I’m talking about and will be ground zero for DieselMania fans or “DieselManiax” as I call ‘em.
Boston Culture: Did the pandemic affect any of your plans?
Danny Diesel: Oh, yeah for sure, what didn’t get affect by it? We had to move out of our home studio of like 5 years due to the pandemic and the owner of the building being forced to sell during the tough times. Also being forced to do everything remote and record at home and mobile & stuff like that, but it’s also been a good learning experience too cause it taught me how to switch hustles up and adapt to any situation. We’re now getting back up and operating again but because of the time off; we’re able to get everything in order and come back harder and better than ever.
Boston Culture : What brands should sponsor you?
Danny Diesel: Listen, with as many Jordans between me and Sega Slay, if we don’t get a Team Jordan sponsorship then this shit is rigged, hahaha! Come on, Jordan Brand; we’ll be some of the best sponsorships you’ve ever had after we increase your sales just off our videos and fashion looks alone. Sky High Fly Guys is all about being fresh, haha. Locally though? I deff rock with a lot of homegrown brands like Bodega, Brainchild, GAS, Bandulu, all the fly shit. Shoutout to them cause they all got heat.
Boston Culture : How did you get the attention of Sky High Fly Guys? How was it formed?
Danny Diesel: We formed because they were all grabbing beats from me and we would talk about how we should move as a unit since we were all so different from each other but we all thought alike and were all cool with each other and put out an album “Live...Before You Die” with a 5th member, ChrisAuthor R.A.W., but he took time off and retired to handle his life as a family man. We always salute him for doing what was best for him and love him all the same.
Sky High Fly Guys is all about being fly and being high; whether that’s high physically, high intellectually, high religiously, high geographically, whatever. That’s us. We know we’re flying high above most and can’t be touched, all you can do is look up as we fly by. That’s why our motto is “#SkyHighTilWeSkydive” because we are literally Sky High until we fall out of the sky and come back to Earth aka skydive. That’s why the emoji’s 🛫✖️🪂 means.
Boston Culture: Anything else we missed you want to tell your fans?
Danny Diesel: Keep. Your. Eyes. Glued. Go stream “DieselMania” by me and “Bad Guy Regardless” by Bodega Jay. Don’t ask me where it’s at; it’s #EverywhereLikeAir.
After that go run up the numbers on Just Julez’ new track “Waist Deep” (produced by me) and my broski Rome Edwards newest EP “Black Box Warning”, where I did all the beats on there.
I don’t even have to say more than that because if you’ve made it this far into the interview and heard me talking as cocky as I have been. The next thing you’re going to go do is exit this page, go listen to the music, get infected by that DieselMania and then say four words: “Damn. He was right.”
This is just the tip of the iceberg and you better get your surfboard ready cause you either gonna ride the wave or you’re gonna drown.
The choice is yours.
Follow Danny Diesel on YouTube @DieselMania Productions and on social media @_dieselmania.