Who is Danny Diablo? Many stories told, some true, some exaggerated, tell a myth of a fearless street fighter, a Keyser Soze of sorts, who repeatedly finds himself in uncompromising situations, forced to confront impossible odds, only to emerge victorious time and time again, virtually unscathed, usually with a girl in one hand and a beer in the other. If James Bond were from the streets, he would be Danny Diablo. Born Danny Singer back in the seventies, Diablo was the first child to proud and loving parents � mom a Puerto Rican from the East River Houses in Spanish Harlem � and dad a Jewish cop from Brooklyn, with red hair and blue eyes, who worked the streets of Spanish Harlem. "I was born in money making Manhattan, because my mom worked in Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital," recalls Danny, "but I was raised in Jackson Heights, Queens, home of the drug cartels and crackheads."
The oldest of three kids, Danny was raised on music and strong family values. "Growing up in Queens, especially in Jackson Heights, you heard all kinds of music: hip hop, salsa, meringue, classic rock, metal, blues, folk." But it was Danny's Uncle Tafty who opened his eyes and ears to music. "He had one eye, the other one was glass but a different color, because he was ghetto, and he always used to play guitar and sing for me." USA Roller Rink was just in walking distance away where rap and metal were the music of choice for the kids in this rotten borough. Music was all around and so was violence. "It was easy to get caught up in some shit when you were young", Danny remembers.
In the mid-eighties Jackson Heights became the mecca for a brand of punk rock known as New York hardcore with bands like Gorilla Biscuits, Raw Deal, The Mob and SFA. By now Danny was heavily into graffiti and went by the tag "Lord Ezec"; Lord as another word for king, and Ezec short for the biblical prophet Ezekiel which signifies "whom God makes strong". Danny saw his first show in 1987 at CBGB's, a Sunday hardcore matinee with Raw Deal, Absolution and Underdog. Danny quickly identified with the spirit, attitude and aggression of this unique local music scene, and Sunday matinees at CBGB's, The Ritz, L'Amour's or Irving Plaza soon became the norm.
For those who knew Danny, it didn't take long to realize that Danny was someone you wanted on your side. While others had a reputation for starting fights, Danny was known for finishing them. Danny went on his first tour as a roadie for Sick Of It All on their 1992 United States run with Biohazard. On a tour marred with enough fights to make the World Wrestling Federation jealous, Danny came back from tour a legend in his own time. Danny never looked for trouble, but trouble always seemed to find him, often because he was as good as beer muscles to his crew of friends.
In 1994 Danny formed the critically acclaimed NYHC act Crown Of Thornz. As vocalist for the group, Danny quickly developed into a charismatic and powerful frontman, belting out emotionally charged lyrics of introspection, pain and anger. Crown Of Thornz released their debut EP "Train Yard Blues" in 1995, a dedication to Danny's younger brother David whose life ended tragically the year prior. Later in 1995 Danny branched off with members of NYHC act Madball to form Skarhead and release "Drugs, Money, Sex", an alter-ego side project in which Danny sang of the harsh realities of living in the NYC. The following year Crown Of Thornz struck back with their 1996 underground classic "Mentally Vexed", a juggernaut of riffs and melodies that had hardcore fans as far as Europe and Japan in a frenzy.
The year 1998 ultimately proved to be Crown Of Thornz' final curtain call as Danny shifted all of his efforts to Skarhead and released "Kings At Crime" the following year. For Danny, Skarhead epitomized the hardcore lifestyle, living day to day, hand to mouth in an unforgiving world filled with drugs and violence. Tours with The Misfits, GWAR and Hatebreed soon followed as Skarhead always left a lasting impression both on and off the stage, regardless of where they played. Eventually Danny took Skarhead all around the United States and the world, culminating in a 1999 summer Warped Tour appearance alongside acts such as Suicidal Tendencies, Eminem, Sevendust, Ice-T, Dropkick Murphys and Blink 182. Where other hardcore acts often held themselves back for fear of losing their credibility, Skarhead embodied a hardcore sound with a hip-hop mentality, setting the standard for not giving a fuck, doing and saying whatever they wanted without fear of repercussion. What other hardcore act could tour with Vanilla Ice and get away with it? Skarhead eventually called it quits in 2002, releasing "NY Thugcore: The Hardcore Years 1994-2000", a mind-numbing collection of early demos, rare tracks, singles and live cuts.
Now everyone's favorite redheaded Puerto Rican Jew is back in his truest form, Danny Diablo, ready to bring his brand of real-life thuggery to the masses. With "TCOB" squarely tattooed on his fist, Diablo is taking care of business with his unique blend of hardcore rhymes over hip hop beats. Making his debut on The Transplants' new joint, Diablo's creative juices are flowing and he is ready to take his show on the road. With the production skills of Dante Ross (Everlast, Brand Nubian, 3rd Bass) in his corner, and a list of cameos that would make P. Diddy jealous, Diablo is poised to knock out the competition in 2004. The legend of Danny Diablo lives on..
Hardcore 4 Life is in stores NOW!
Dan Singer grew up in Queens, New York. Birthplace of the Ramones, the dominion where a street pimp-turned gangsta rapper named Kool G. Rap came to be. And there you go—punk and hip hop wound up being the soundtrack to young Danny's life. These genres had a lot in common, and Danny recognized this truth before most. Alienated, dysfunctional youth found shelter within the loving arms of punk and hip hop—weather you were a geek or a thug or a freak, the beats or the heavy chords could make you feel whole again.
Danny was different. He had red hair. His homemaking mom—she was Puerto Rican. His dad--a police officer--was Jewish with Polish ancestry (the fact that Diablo's dad was a cop is incredible.) Danny was the eldest of three kids. The natural born leader of the pack. Danny was a good, sweet kid. He played baseball and basketball and football and stickball and played these games well. In high school, however, he would discover a new game: graffiti. Dan Singer would become Ezec—a mild mannered kid who wore Cro-Mags and Agnostic Front t-shirts and wrote his tag name everywhere he went. Sometimes he would rock headphones while painting. He'd be blasting Slayer or Celtic Frost or Kool G. Rap while spraying away without a care in the world because he was surrounded by his friends…a band of local fellas who called themselves the Doc Martin Skins. It was fun times.
Danny "Lord Ezec" Singer would attend spirited hardcore matinees at New York's infamous CBGB nightclub. He would see bands like Sick of It All and lose his mind in the pit, moshing and stage diving and creepy crawling his way—literally—to the top of the scene. The DMS crew would continue to grow. They would become a force to reckon with at shows. Some people say that they were violent—and they certainly did dance hard. Folks would get hurt. Some people say that they were territorial. Most folks are territorial; most folks have regional pride. Out of town bands had no troubles when they played New York, though. It was just the DMS aesthetic, I think, that intimidated the out of towners. DMS' infamy would spread beyond the Big Apple. DMS members would start bands (Mad Ball, for instance.) Tough guys in local towns would come to shows and try to make a name for themselves. The DMS dudes were no slouches. Some dudes got beat up in their hometowns by DMS dudes with tattoos on their necks. They didn't want to have to go there, but hey. If you can survive beat downs in New York, you can survive beat downs everywhere….
Tough real life things would go down in Dan Singer's life that would change him a bit. His beloved little brother would take his own life; his dad would pass on as well. The Singer's were a tight knit bunch, and these passings hit hard. Then things would start to get messy for Danny's DMS family. Guys were getting caught up—passing on or going to jail. In a freak sort of deal, Danny himself wound up getting stabbed by an irate homeless man. And he almost didn't make it. Danny needed an emotional out let. His first band, Crown of Thornz, was just that.
The band would put out two records—the Train Yard Blues EP (1995) and the Mentally Vexed LP (1996). On stage, Dan Singer would become Lord Ezec—one of the most charismatic front men hardcore has ever seen. The Second Coming of the Cro-Mags' John Joseph. The riffage was intense. Mentally Vexed is a hands down classic; a long player that still holds it's own in today's world of heavy metal revivalisms. This writer actually tour managed C.O.T's '97 all Japan tour and it was at that moment that I realized that Dan Singer was an International Hardcore Superstar (he got interviewed for Japanese Play Girl!)
Crown of Thornz would disband. Skarhead would rise in its wake. Skarhead made a lot of noise. Skarhead was a DMS free-for-all. Skarhead toured the world. Put out records. Dan Singer essentially fronted Skarhead. Skarhead is a hard name. Scars are hard, and Singer, at this point, had acquired a whole lotta scars (and a whole lotta tattoos.)
Skarhead was fun. The idea ran its course. Lord Ezec would give way to Danny Diablo. Too many negative associations with the Lord Ezec name. Dan Singer wanted to explore hip hop a bit, too. DMS had grown up a bit. Music had become a way of life; a way to live. Danny Diablo is the bi-product of all of these ideas and thoughts and movements and realities. The music on his LaSalle/Atlantic EP speaks for itself. It's a testament that is honest and true to the life he's lived. Some people have called the cat the Tupac of hardcore; some have likened the man to 50 Cent…look, I know Danny Diablo well. I've heard all the stories about the dude—most of them sound too incredible to be true. But just know this: if you ask Danny Diablo a question—a difficult question even—look him square in his eyes. Look beyond the tear dorp tattoo. Look beyond the scars. You'll be surprised by the answers he'll shoot your way.
And come on, his last name is Singer. The motherfucker was born to do this shit.
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