Back in 2012, “Diamonds” served as the lead single off of Rihanna‘s seventh studio album, Unapologetic. Already a certified superstar, the album doubled down on the Bajan queen’s life philosophy that she shouldn’t spend a moment of her career pretending to be anything other than who she is. With its triumphant and embracing energy, “Diamonds” was the perfect introduction to the next chapter or Rihanna, but the song almost went to another star — Eminem, who’d recorded his own version. Kanye West was also in the running for the prospective hit.
In a chat with Zane Lowe for Apple Music, producer Benny Blanco revealed the 2012 hit wasn’t necessarily intended for RiRi at all. The song, cowritten and produced by Sia, Blanco and StarGate, almost went to a few other artists. “We wanted it to be a Kanye or a Lana Del Rey song at first,” Blanco said.
“Stargate’s like, ‘Yo, we’re giving this song to Rihanna. It’s gonna go’ and I was like, ‘I don’t know, man. Should we keep the beat for Kanye? I don’t know about it,’” Benny told Lowe, adding “I remember, at the same time, I had given a beat CD like a month earlier to Paul Rosenberg to give to Eminem. And apparently, Eminem had done a song to it, too, and I didn’t even know. So when it happened, Paul was like ‘Man, Em had that beat on hold.’ I was like, ‘What?! I didn’t even know.’”
Ultimately, Blanco relinquished control and let Stargate decide.
“I’m sitting there and then I’m finally like, ‘You know what, Stargate?’ I let go. I said, ‘You guys know better. Let’s do it.’ She cut the song. First of all, the second she cut the song, they were completely right. I was like, ‘This is the best song I’ve ever done,’ Blanco said of Rihanna’s version. “And then, this is how life works — full circle — Kanye West does a remix to the song.”
Watch the official “Diamonds” video below and stay tuned.