AllHipHop Exclusive: DJ Diamond Kuts – Sets It Off

When you learn that Philadelphia native, DJ Diamond Kuts, worked her way through the ranks and the streets of the tri-state area to cop the spot as resident deejay and co-host on BETs The Deal, a nationally syndicated show, you cant help but feel inspired. It might have been enough for someone less ambitious to also impress program directors at Philadelphias number one R&B station Power 99fm at a deejay audition and snag the radio deejay gig as well.

But, apparently, Diamond Kuts is not one to rest on her laurels. Had she done so, she would not have copped what is probably the most coveted spot on the tour circuit right now for any deejay.

Diamond Kuts is the deejay of choice for red hot rapper Nicki Minaj. This double dose of girl power is an exciting and inspiring collabo for all hip hop fans but it definitely holds a special meaning for young girls across the country.

Diamond is the daughter of Philly hip hop pioneer, Grand Tone, who no doubt, had an influence on her. In addition, she cites DJ Ob1 and Cosmic Kev among her mentors and pays homage to hip hop greats Queen Latifah, MC Lyte and DJ Jazzy Jeff as her all time favorites.

DJ Diamond Kuts must also draw from their work ethic. Diamond had been ill when she spoke exclusively with but refused a courtesy offer to postpone, even during the interview. Though she coughed throughout the conversation and paused to get hot water, she insisted we press on and wanted no reprieve. So press on she did, painstakingly, giving in depth answers for nearly an hour. How old were you when you first got started deejaying and how did it come about?

Diamond Kuts: I got my first set of turntables when I was probably sixteen or seventeen. I used to play all different kinds of instruments. I played the flute. I played around with the drums but I didnt get that serious into it (drums). But the flute is something I played for like 4 or 5 years. So, I was always into music and experimenting so deejaying is something I wanted to try out. I told my dad and he was all excited because he was all into hip hop. So he brought me turntables and the rest is history. I started hangin out with a lot of the local deejays in Philly and they kinda took me under their wings and taught me a little bit about deejaying and the different techniques and went through the history of certain records. I would spend all day in the record store. Is that pretty much how you got your buzz up?

Diamond Kuts: Yeah. When I was with the different deejays in Philly we would deejay at parks. People would see me out. Id meet people that way. I started doing mix tapes, DVDs and me and my mom would go out and sell mixtapes at the mixtape stands. I went out and videotaped all the female rappers and put it out on a DVD. So thats pretty much how I got my buzz up. I went to school near Pittsburgh so I would do mixtapes in school and I would send them down. I would come down (to Philly) every weekend to deejay at this store called Sneaker Villa and thats just how I kept my name out there and kept my face relevant. Doing mixtapes and being visual and letting people see me, being out and about at certain events that was going on in the city. I like the concept of the all female DVD. Whats it called?

Diamond Kuts: It was called Set It Off. You know I got that from the movie. Im a big fan of all female rappers. So when I did it I really wanted to do it. It wasnt for gimmick purposes. I really, deep down in my heart, love female rappers. So I wanted to spotlight some of the rappers that were doing their thing that they had not heard of. It was Set It Off (Volume 1). It was a DVD and a mixtape. How did get the name Diamond Kuts

Diamond Kuts: First it was DJ Diamond then it was DJ Flight…a week, (laughs) and then I said, ‘You know what? Im gonna add Kuts to it because I cut the record up. I dont know where I got that name from it just popped in my head like ‘Oooh Diamond, I like that name and then I just added Kuts to it. Do you consider yourself a deejay or a turntablist and can you break the difference down for the lay people?

I guess what some people consider a turntablist is somebody who is really into doin tricks on the turntable like scratchin, goin behind your back and lifting your leg up scratchin. Thats my definition of a turntablist. A deejay is a deejay they play records. Me, I do both. People dont know. When they listen to me on the radio I never scratch. And I dont scratch because I feel like people dont want to hear that on the radio. They want to hear their song. They dont want to hear you bringing it back a million times. They dont want to hear you scratchin up their favorite record. So I always pretty much stick to the blend and bringin in the records on the radio. I do scratch, like if you go on You tube and type in a Nicki Minaj concert, youre gonna hear me scratchin in the background. I know how to turn around and deejay behind my back. I know how to do all of that. So people that hear me on the radio dont know and they see me like “Diamond Kuts, Yo you scratchin!” But thats where I came from. So do you prefer vinyl or Serato and is the feel the same?

Diamond Kuts: I love Serato. When I first started Serato had just come out so I experienced a little of carrying records up a whole bunch of flights of stairs. Im happy Serato came out because there is nothing better than carrying your book bag and setting up instead of carrying four or five crates of records and then somebody asked you for a record and you forgot it. The first program that came out was a little off (for scratching) but Serato is on point. Its the best thing that happened to a deejay in my opinion. Who are some of the artists youve worked with?

Diamond Kuts: Right now Im working with Nicki. The only other artist I went on the road with was Lil Mama. Lil Mama was my first experience on the road. It was fun and I learned a lot. It opened me up because when you deejay for a rapper you are their back up. So it opened me up a lot and that was a blessing. Why do you think females are so scarce in hip hop now?

Diamond Kuts: I think its because of the approach that a lot of females are taking. They either come out too hard or too sexy. It was nobody that had that medium and I think thats what we were missing, a female with that balance. I think that is why Nicki is winning. She is fun, she has sex appeal, she can rap and she can take it to the streets. Has it been harder proving yourself as a female?

Diamond Kuts: No, I always say if you are doing what you are supposed to be doing to the best of your ability, no one can take that from you. They can only respect you.

Props to AllHipHop