Photo by Peter Sutherland
It seems that with every issue, we promise never to talk about the Diplomats anymore. But if the conversation veers toward the animal kingdom, how can we not? For one, Cam’ron’s most quotable quote is that he “lives in a zoo with a pet cemetery in his closet.” But it’s not until you realize that Juelz’s manager Big Joe walks around with a voluble cockatoo on his shoulder and that the residence of the crew’s mastermind, Duke Da God, is guarded by a gigantic macaw that you can fully comprehend the meaning of Dip Set Byrd Gang.
VICE: Duke, how many animals do you have?
Duke: I got a cat and a bird. They’re like Tweety and Sylvester. My cat’s name is Smoke Dog, because he’s got fine gray fur. I got this little balcony, and the cat goes out there for hours to kill flies and mice and eat them. Sometimes he jumps up and tries to attack the bird, on some real domination shit. Who knows what’s going on when we’re not even looking? My bird’s probably happy when we come home.
How old are these two fellas?
The cat is a year old. The bird is four. Those birds live to be 100 though. They be old enough to know the kids, the grandkids, everybody. My bird’s heavy, like seven pounds, and he’s also long, like two yards once he lifts his arms up. His vocals are real loud, too. I live on the fourth floor, and I know niggas on the tenth floor can hear him. He mostly speaks Spanish. He’s a Puerto Rican bird, his name is Chicho. He’ll say some English things too, like “shut the fuck up.” I’m trying to teach him how to say “Diplomats.”
How long have you had Chicho?
Two years. He’s got charm, that’s why I fucks with the bird. If you come through the house, he’ll say hi. Cam usually fucks with the bird from a distance. He doesn’t really get up on the bird like that. He’ll still shout him out though. That bird is our mascot.
What do you feed him?
I give him regular sunflower seeds. When he gets out the cage he eats my sneaker boxes, but I get mad at him for that. He smokes weed, too. He’ll even do a little dance to the music. I’m telling you, my bird is charming. Niggas be like, “Why you keep him in the room when he makes all that noise?” But they don’t understand I got a nice relationship with the bird.
Duke Da God’s Dipset: More Than Music album is out now on Diplomats/Koch.