Hello everyone! This piece will be the fourth installment of my newest series titled “Da Hood Prospects”, where I’ll introduce readers to inner-city youth that are rising stars in their respective fields of work. Enjoy, and please share it with your friends.
- This piece is dedicated to Diablo’s late father, Errol.
Creative. Passionate. Hard Headed. Quiet. Observative.
During our two-hour interview, which was conducted in Tavion’s car (an interesting experience!), he spoke proudly about the evolution of his friend’s sound.
Tavion described his music as energetic, lively, and from the heart. With each single, or project Armani releases, he, and fans from all walks of life, notice the improvement in his work.
And Armani, who is grateful for the support he’s received, isn’t surprised by the reception of his music.
When we spoke, he shared that he’d spend his last on music, and would rather work on tracks than eat, or even sleep.
That passion & commitment to the grind allows Armani to remain hungry in his pursuit of stardom.
Born on January 29, 2001, Armani lived on Anguilla Island, and Atlanta in his early years, before settling down in the Bronx at the age of nine.
In the borough, he moved to the neighborhood of Wakefield, where he still resides. Today he stays with his mom & his sisters.
His father, Errol wasn’t around much when he was young but always made his presence felt.
A notorious drug dealer, Errol spent multiple stints in jail. But when he was home, he’d buy his children gifts, and tell them they were special every chance he got.
Errol was important to his family, and their lives were impacted drastically after he passed away.
Midway through his sophomore year, Armani received news that blood had been found in his car and that he’d gone missing.
Errol, who was living in Jamaica at the time, had been deported a few years prior. Hearing about his father’s whereabouts, or lack thereof, left Armani mildly concerned.
He didn’t think much of it. He just assumed that Errol had gotten into some trouble and was handling business beneath the radar.
Armani felt like he had nothing to worry about, despite his concern slowly growing the longer he didn’t hear from him.
Unfortunately, before he knew it, his life would change forever.
One day while in school, Armani got a phone call from his mother, saying she’d pick him up.
An unusual occurrence, he knew something wasn’t right.
When his mother arrived, Armani bombarded her with questions, wondering why she was even there.
His mother pulled him to the side & delivered the devastating news.
Errol had been murdered in a gang-related crime in Jamaica.
Armani was hysterical. Struggling to control his emotions, he began crying non-stop.
Errol’s death left a large void in Armani’s life, and as a result, caused him to mature.
Refusing to follow in his father’s footsteps, he looked to use his free time productively, in an effort to stay out of trouble.
As he mourned this tragedy, Armani began to reminisce about the special moments the two spent together.
One of his dearest memories with Errol came while he was young. Armani recalls his father singing an array of different songs to him.
Moments like those are what he’ll cherish forever.
And these experiences, coinciding with Errol’s murder, would transform Armani into the person he’d eventually become.
Armani & I met while attending middle school at the Eagle Academy for Young Men, in the Bronx. We were classmates for three years.
Back then, I remember Armani having a laid back, reserved personality. Mostly, to himself, he picked and chose when he needed to talk.
That calm composure he exhibited fascinated me from afar. Whenever he spoke, you had to pay attention, because whatever he said was worth your while.
For Armani, his tenure at Eagle was the best seven years of his life.
Spending his adolescence in the school, the academy offered a high-level education and an environment surrounded by several students he now considers brothers.
All in all, he credits Eagle for introducing him to the idea of politics, and other important topics outside his own interest.
His only regret with the school is that he wishes he took more advantage of his time there in regards to music.
Knowing what he knows now, he would’ve begun rapping his freshman year, so he could better utilize the resources the school had to offer.
On the flip slide, he recognizes that everything happens for a reason.
He would start his rapping career towards the end of his high school career. Around graduation is when he released his first tracks, with those friends he made at Eagle by his side for moral support.
Despite Armani just recently entering the hip-hop scene, his earliest memories of rapping came a half-decade before.
When he was thirteen years old, he would spend a lot of his time in his cousin’s home. In an attempt to pass the time while still having some fun, they would all battle rap.
Armani would lose to his cousins in their early competitions. But being the sore loser he was, he’d begin practicing his rhymes while he was alone so whenever they battled, he’d come out victorious.
His practice would pay huge dividends.
Armani began defeating his cousins two, three, four times in a row, with ease. Tired of all the losing, they quickly realized he was no longer a novice in this sport.
He had some legitimate talent.
In spite of the success he enjoyed winning against his cousins, he didn’t truly understand the magnitude of that talent until he got around his clique.
Dubbed “Sex-Money”, this group of skilled individuals Armani kept around him shared similar aspirations to reach the top in their respective fields of interest.
All hailing from the neighborhood of Wakefield, he credits the group, as well as the older heads in the area for pushing him to become a rapper and also influencing his sound.
After dabbling with music as a part-time hobby, he decided it was time to fully embark on this hip-hop journey.
Now, all he needed was a stage name, something that represented who he was.
Armani was often nicknamed “Diablo” in his youth because he would repeatedly engage in mischievous activity that got him in trouble.
He wanted that same malicious aura to follow him in the rap game, so he could strike fear into his opponents, and gain their respect.
But, Diablo by itself just didn’t sound right. He needed more.
As Armani returned to the drawing board, he began to think about the things in life that were the most meaningful to him, aside from music.
That “thing” was Wakefield, the place that raised him, and the community where he honed his devilish ways.
The perfect combination, he found a stage name that perfectly embodied his character & background.
And with that, Armani became Diablo Wakefield.
Diablo Wakefield recorded his first track more than two years ago, with his friend “Blizzy” who’s currently behind bars.
Although unreleased, the track headlines a lengthy list of dope songs he’d eventually record.
His sound is inspired by rap heavyweights Eminem & Lil Wayne, two of his favorite artists.
But to be frank, he doesn’t sound like either of them. In my opinion, Diablo most resembles a grittier, grimier, more rugged Juice Wrld, another artist he admires.
Diablo, like Juice, uses instrumentals in his tracks that stretch from hard-hitting & fast-paced, to upbeat & melodic.
The makeup of their lyrics is also similar.
Diablo rhymes consist of his adventures with love, battles with mental health, and frequent references to drug use.
That brutal honesty is what separates him from other artists.
In today’s age, rappers bore listeners with track after track about money, entertaining multiple women, and senseless gang activity.
Diverging from the norm, Diablo prefers to speak the truth in all of his bars. It’s the only way he knows how to make music.
And he has no problem explaining the meaning behind tracks.
He admits the recurring mentions of drugs in his songs stem from his own personal use.
Fully aware of the harm it could cause him, he’s working hard each day towards eliminating his usage of it.
Another thing you may notice is the dark, intimidating storylines in his tracks.
That darkness stems from the crimes that go down in his neighborhood, and the death of his pops, another frequent mention in his music.
He uses many of his songs to continue furthering the legacy of his father’s life.
On the hook of the track “Lessons” from his first EP “All 41”, Diablo raps “they took my OG out the game, but bitch I’m still it.” The term “OG” is in reference to his slain dad.
With each performance, Diablo strives for his music to be both real and raw to the core.
For some, his sound isn’t necessarily relatable, but the average listener can appreciate the thrilling energy of his tracks.
A bit of that energy can be attributed to his alter ego, also known as “Lil A.”
“Lil A”, is a persona of Diablo’s, one where he feels indestructible, invincible, and untouchable.
It’s also the persona that produces some of his best work.
For Diablo, one of the reasons he enjoys making music is crafting songs he and his friends love.
Creating a track can take him between fifteen minutes to two hours. It all depends on his mood during the process.
But whenever he’s in the studio he rarely fools around. He goes into the booth, only with intentions to work. He takes that time very seriously.
Time is money after all.
While in the studio, Diablo prefers to freestyle on the majority of his tracks.
Visiting the studio every other day, he owns a catalog of unfinished songs, many that his friends are urging him to complete.
Usually in attendance during these sessions, his clique shares their critique here & there, but mostly keeps Diablo sane when he enters his work mode.
Another reason he enjoys the rap game is the support he receives from his growing audience. It motivates him whenever his music is reshared on social media, or when someone tells him they’re a fan of his work.
Instances like those place a smile on his face.
Life as a rapper isn’t all positives, however.
The difficult part of being an artist is the amount of time music consumes from his everyday life.
With hip-hop being his primary source of income, each week, he’s forced to find the best route to take musically, in order to subsidize his expenses.
That stress starts to build up fast.
He doesn’t allow that to halt the progression.
Since Diablo’s begun releasing music, the biggest difference he’s discovered is how comfortable he is entering the booth and recording.
He’s developed a business-like mentality with his craft.
And he emulated that same attention to near perfection in the past twelve months.
In January 2020, Diablo released his first EP titled “All 41.”
The twelve-minute long EP is named after a phrase he and friends live by (All for one, 4 to 1) and the main street that centers his Wakefield neighborhood (East 241 St).
That quality sound reached another level following the release of his first official mixtape “Goblins” which debuted on October 31st, 2020.
The nine-track mixtape features an impressive selection of beats, combined with that patented fast-paced delivery from Diablo.
While working on the project he saw the wordplay on his songs improving, as each succeeding track featured harder metaphors and punchlines.
The vocals on his tracks also sound super clear. Diablo does an exceptional job articulating his lyrics.
The entire project contained the toughness, intensity, and effortless braggadocio that separates Diablo from the rest of the pack.
As his discography gets longer, Diablo continues to defy the many odds stacked against him all his life.
What do I mean by that?
Well, many would have crumbled in defeat after the loss of a parent at such a young age, or by the drugs, violence, and hell he was exposed to in Wakefield.
But Diablo didn’t allow that to deter him at all. He turned his rough situation into a favorable outcome, and that’s being reflected in his music.
His determination also opened a multitude of opportunities, including having his music played on the Power 105.1 radio station back in September.
With that being said, he & his friends don’t expect it will take too long for him to reach where he wants to be.
Tavion, Diablo’s aforementioned right-hand man with a clothing brand of his own, says his story is one of inspiration.
One day, he envisions his friend on the mainstream, being played on midday radio, performing in big shows across the world like Coachella and Rolling Loud, or at Dazzles, a popular lounge in Mount Vernon.
Diablo anticipates a similar ascent.
When it’s all said and done, Diablo wants to be remembered as a pivotal figure in the rap game, and a role model mentioned in the same breath as icons like Kobe Bryant & Tupac.
And he’s working relentlessly to put himself in a prime position to, in his own words, “conquer the world.”
If you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment if you enjoyed this piece. And please, share this with your friends!