Before he was driving around stolen cars at high speeds and speaking like his vocal chords were made from a contrabassoon, Vin Diesel was rapping and breakdancing in the West Village. It was the eighties, and a lot of people were doing a lot of weird things. Vin Diesel was one of them.
In one of the more unlikely pairings in music history, the young Vin Diesel—then known as Mark Sinclair—teamed with avant garde musician Arthur Russell for a recording session at Battery Sound NYC in 1986. The session was eventually aborted and for good reason.
The track opens with Diesel/Sinclair announcing, "Ha ha! Ho ho! Party people! It's time to get stupid!" And indeed he does proceed to get a little stupid. He repeats lines like “I’m the man of steel” in rhythms that have little relevance to Russell’s tricky beat. He spits one line: "I ain't that heavy and my skin's like silk," as if those attributes were like, really gangster or something. His rapping style can be described as neither fast nor furious, but his gusto is admirable.
The archival tapes were recently unearthed by Gary Lucas, who discovered Sinclair and put the sessions together. Click over to Soundcloud to take a listen. Meanwhile, check out a video (via Village Voice) of the artist formerly known as Mark Sinclair breakdancing.