Diggy Simmons Won’t Use Ghostwriters, Talks New LP
Diggy Simmons can’t stop smiling. The fledgling rapper looks like a glossy eyed child staring at presents under the Christmas tree while describing the effort he puts into his stage shows. The debate over whether hip-hop is dead clearly doesn’t faze the newcomer; he’s reveling in the genre. “It’s so fun,” he says of rapping for fans. “I feel like a kid when I’m about to do it.”
At 16 years old, some would say Diggy is still a kid, but he’s had to grow up relatively fast considering he’s been in the public eye as Rev. Run’s son. Reality television is where the masses first caught a glimpse of his persona, however, his music is how they’ll get to know the real Diggy, one that faces hardships and experiences angst like any teen has.
With roots firmly planted in Run-DMC, there’s skepticism over whether a descendent of one of hip-hop’s esteemed figures will deliver a finely tuned lyrical product. The ‘Copy, Paste’ creator, who cites Andre 3000 and Eminem as rappers that inspire him, is aware of the talk, but he’s not focused on the babble — even though he’s on the Internet every hour (“My computer is my other best friend that’s not a person”).
His debut album, preceded by mixtapes ‘The First Flight’ and ‘Airborne,’ is what his sights are set on. He promises it will hit the market before 2012, yet he’s extremely taciturn in sharing details about who he’s nabbed to craft beats or collaborated with. Silence may really turn out to be golden in this case. Read on as Diggy addresses his use of ghostwriters, reveals what his next tour will showcase and opens up about not looking for a handout from his dad.
We haven’t heard anything about your album title yet. What’s the story behind that?
The title will come in the next month and a half, two months. But the album will be out before the year is over. I’ve been working on my album since January and I came up with [the title] in March, February. It just fits where I am right now and where people see me. I’ve been hinting at it over Twitter [with] initials. It’s two words: a “U” and an “A.” It just fits perfectly. It’s a dope title. It doesn’t really sound like an album title.
The video for ‘Copy, Paste’ it’s a little like 50 Cent’s video for ‘In Da Club.’ Why did you decide to go with a concept so similar to that?
Well, the whole laboratory thing, it’s just about me being in the lab and the girls are testing me and trying to copy and paste me. [They're] seeing the different things and characteristics that I have. You know, it’s a dope concept. I got a whole bunch of different treatments from directors and the director that ended up coming with the best one was the director that did my first viral video, Phil the God. We just have an amazing chemistry, collaboratively we just connect.
Let’s talk about your next single. What can we expect from you on that?
I can’t talk about it. My album is done for the most part. I’ve been working on the next single definitely. I’ve worked with [producers] Pop and Oak who did ‘Copy, Paste.’ And I also told people on Twitter that I worked with D’Mile as well. This dude is in credible. He did like Dirty Money and stuff with J. Lo. He’s just dope.
How did you link with D’Mile to get that creative energy going?
My A&R knows him. He always thought he was dope and he’s a good friend of his. And now were friends. Collaboratively, incredible. His sounds of his beats with what I’m doing is crazy. I have a whole array of different producers on the album.
You just came off the 106 & Park Presents: Closer to My Dreams tour. How was that?
Lil Twist, Tyga, myself, Mindless Behavior. It was an amazing experience and just the fact that BET considered me to be on it is a huge deal to me. I’m grateful. I just got better as a performer, every single night watching what I should do, what I shouldn’t do, channeling my energy, where I should get better, my awareness. I just got so much better from the first show I did on the tour to the last one.
And you’re starting another tour, right?
Yeah, the Scream tour. That’s going to be a lot. It’s 22 cities. Sept. 30 we start. It goes through November.
Describe the process you take to prepare for a show.
I love my process. I say this a lot, I’m thankful to have people around me that I collaborate with so well, even my DJ, DJ SpinKing, that’s my best friend and my brother. Spin is just incredible. He does a set before my set [to get the crowd amped]. Our process when we rehearse, we just come up with ideas and the thing is we never ever do a straight through rehearsal. We’ll say what we’re gonna and I’ll think of ideas in my head, then he’ll be on his turntables and we’ll go back and forth. We’ll do things like we go through songs, but we always nail it. I’ll call him like, “I got this crazy idea.” Or he’ll hit me. And that’s what it’s about, staying hungry and never getting too comfortable.
My set for the Scream tour as opposed to Closer to My Dreams, it’s going to be a little more extensive but it’s gonna be some of the same elements ’cause I’m in love with them. Honestly, the Closer to My Dreams tour set was really, really good. It was a 20-minute set for that one and for the Scream tour it’s 30, so I’m going to add some songs. I’m still figuring out what I’m going to do. I do ‘Copy, Paste.’ I do a song called ‘Everybody Late’ that I put out at the top of the year, that’s the first song I come out to. I do a song called ‘Like ‘Em All,’ with me and Jacob Latimore. I do ‘Thinkin’ Bout You’ and ‘Great Expectations’ off my mixtape ‘Airborne’. The second single could be coming out sooner than people expect and I could put that in. We’ll see.
We’ve heard mixtapes and this first single. What do you want people to take away after hearing your first album? You’re being so secretive about it so we don’t really know what to expect.
The thing is I don’t want to be secretive about it. Honestly, I just want it to come out. If I was a careless person I would’ve leaked it, but it’s not done. I’m not careless at all. We’re still in the mixing process with what’s there right now, the 90 percent of it’s that’s done. But there’s just a few tracks to finish up to just finish the story to make it sound great sonically.
I just want people to have a good time to it. I want people to love it, relate to it. Say, “You know, I love this song, this song helped me, this song got me through something. I could relate to this. I needed this.” All that type of stuff. And hopefully, I can gain new supporters and people that love what I do. And they’ll be a part of me and I’ll be a part of them.
[The album] is everything I’ve experienced. People go through things with love. People go through things, hardships. Then there are things that are just in general. There are songs that talk about life as a whole and then there is stuff that people can relate to. As a whole, it’s music for everybody. Like it’s hip-hop and I’m rapping and there’s verses, but it’s really for everybody.
Your dad, Rev Run is legendary in hip-hop. During the recording process, I’m sure you’ve gone to him to get his feedback. What has he said to you during this time that has stuck with you?
Actually, not at all. I’m just me as an individual, you know. He just steps back and he’s supportive. He’ll hear stuff like when I’m in L.A. [recording], and my A&R will send him stuff just to listen to, ’cause he gets interested. Nothing for him to critique at all, ’cause it’s just really me and my team doing us. He just let’s me do me.
There have been rumors you may have a team of ghostwriters that write for you. What’s your response to that?
People have said that in the past about a whole lot of people. People make up lies. People honestly, they don’t want you to be good. People don’t want me to be good. People are mad that I’m succeeding ’cause I’m not supposed to necessarily. I’m from a dad that’s a legend in hip-hop so for the fact that people are liking what I’m doing, they’re mad at that so they’re gonna do whatever they can to block it. I don’t really pay attention to it. If you don’t enjoy my music, or believe in me, it is what it is.