Almost like the midterm elections, America has the opportunity approximately every two years to consider Vin Diesel. He is an elusive movie star, much like Chris Tucker, who has made it easy for audiences to quantify their thoughts about him around the release of the latest entry into the franchise that made them famous and then let it dissipate until the next time around, when the pleasures of the way he says “We got a job” or pronounces “Brazzzzzil” strike the eardrums anew and allow for the air of mystery that’s integral to his appeal as an action star to settle in once more.
So when little bursts of Diesel’s past bubble up to the surface, back from the Manhattan days when he went by Mark Vincent, it’s always a bit fascinating. There was his stint as a nightclub bouncer that led to the name change (and that he subsequently tried to turn into a movie called “Doormen”), the short film “Multi-Facial,” that detailed his struggles as an actor to get parts based on his unidentifiable ethnicity and ultimately landed him his big break in “Saving Private Ryan,” and then today via MSN Movies’ chief film critic Glenn Kenny’s Some Came Running blog, the discovery that Diesel’s gruff monotone was once in service of lines such as “Party people, it’s time to get stupid” as an aspiring rapper.
Hearing Diesel boast “I’m the man of steel” during the three-minute track isn’t exactly a surprise, but as Kenny notes, the idea of him being in the same recording studio as the late experimental composer/musician Arthur Russell in 1986 is. For more on Russell, there’s a wonderful documentary called “Wild Combination,” and since it’s not embeddable, to hear the actual Diesel-Russell collaboration, you’ll also have to proceed to the SoundCloud site of guitarist Gary Lucas here.
What we can offer here is that that breakdancing video Diesel did, probably around the same time (scan to 1:56):