June 16, 2010


Local rapper sets his sights on the top

LocalJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Local rapper Diamond Ricelli has released his sixth recording, “Walking on Water.”

Staff Reporter

Growing up in Cortland as Chad Dann, local rapper Diamond Ricelli found his calling listening to the music of urban life.
“I grew up listening to gangsta rap and even though I was living in a different world than them, I was poor growing up and could relate to the struggle,” Ricelli said.
He was born and raised in Cortland and he’s hoping to make it to the top of the music industry.
Ricelli released “Walking on Water” in April. It is a collaborative effort with DJ Illmatic and Ricelli’s sixth release.
“I’m trying to take it to the next level,” he said.
Ricelli has been featured on college radio stations and had an album release party sponsored by Brix Puberia at the Stone Lounge.
He has released albums and mixtapes since 2005 and distributed over 10,000 copies of his material, mostly through free handouts.
Ricelli said he knew accomplishing his goals would take time and resilience, because even surviving his birth was an accomplishment.
He and his twin brother were born two months premature. In his mother’s womb, Ricelli became entangled with his brother. Because of this, Ricelli developed lung problems and was not expected to live past age 7.
“I was read my last rites nine times,” said Ricelli, 28.
Ricelli said he grew up poor, but credited his mother, Kim Dann, who worked at the Smith-Corona factory, and his father, Richard Dann, who was a truck driver, with providing a stable home life. Ricelli’s parents live in Groton. His twin brother Kurt also lives in Groton. His sister Abby lives in Cortland, and his older brother Rick lives in Ithaca.
But Cortland is Cortland, a community where everyone seems to know everyone. Most of Ricelli’s days were monotonous.
Then he found music.
Listening to rap artists such as Snoop Dogg and Tupac, Ricelli could visualize the urban environments of Los Angeles, a place he wouldn’t travel to until many years later.
Music had a calming effect on Ricelli, and he wanted to make a career out of it.
Even still, getting recognition in the music business is a slow process, he said.
Ricelli is his own manager, which takes time from writing songs. At one time he had managers in New York City — but that fell through when the managers were unsure of his popularity after not hearing him on the radio.
But Ricelli’s mantra is “things happen for a reason.” He even believes his infant lung problems, which are still with him, give him a distinct rapping voice.
Ricelli hopes that one day, a kid in Los Angeles will listen to his music and visualize the environment of Cortland, which includes workers and a strong dairy industry.
Once this happens, it will prove “that a kid from the middle of nowhere can become a worldwide superstar,” he said.
For more information on Diamond Ricelli, call 607-339-9078 or e-mail Information can also be found at, and


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