It’s no surprise that Diggy Simmons has assumed his rightful destiny as a star, especially since he reigns from hip-hop royalty. It was only six years ago that we were first introduced to him on the MTV reality series Run’s House, a show based on the lives of Run DMC star Rev. Run‘s family.
Now a young man in his own right, Diggy has set out to establish himself as a rapper, fashion and shoe designer, and trendsetter. In 2009 Diggy released his first mixtape, The First Flight, on his blog, garnering 100,000 downloads which prompted record labels to take notice. But it was his viral video “Flow Stoopid,” a freestyle track of Nas’ “Made You Look,” that gained him the attention and respect of hip-hop heavy-weights such as Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Common, Talib Kweli, and Quest Love just to name a few.
Currently co-headlining the SCREAM Tour with teen boyband Mindless Behavior and preparing to release his debut album, which will contain the singles “Copy, Paste” and Jeremih-assisted second single, “Do It Like You,” Diggy recently took time out of his busy schedule to chat with Neon Limelight about his new album and upcoming web-series, crazy experiences on tour, and why his fans are often referred to as Jetsetters.
Get to know more about Diggy in our Q&A below:
Neon Limelight: What motivated you to pursue a career in the music industry?
Diggy: Honestly, at first it wasn’t even… me making music wasn’t about me wanting to become famous or even be an artist to the masses. It was just me having a lot that I wanted to express. You know, just different experiences that I went through just being me, and I did it through rhyming. Intentionally it wasn’t for me to become an artist to the public, but I got more serious with it and I ended up putting out my first mixtape in December of ’09, and I’ve just been going from there. It’s what I love to do, so you know I beat it into what I do everyday.
NL: Who inspires you and why?
D: Like one person?
D: I think Kanye. Just definitely the way that he always just raises the bar. He always makes me want to go harder and I’m sure a lot of other different artists, because creatively he does what he wants. But I feel as though it always works. There’s not one Kanye album, I was just saying the other day, that I don’t enjoy. He always just raises the bar for hip-hop in general, and that’s something that I want to definitely do, to just take it to new heights and you know let it reach different milestones, cause people still see hip-hop in, you know, a certain way, and maybe a bad light, so I just want to do that for hip-hop.
NL: “Copy, Paste,” how did this song come about?
D: I was in LA recording my album, and I went to go see two producers named Pop and Oak. They made “Marvin Gaye” for Big Sean, and “Unusual” for Trey Songz, so I went to go see them. They’re really dope, and they played me a bunch of beats and that beat, the “Copy, Paste” beat was one that they played me and it stuck out. I loved it, it just sounded crazy and then on the spot I made the hook and I had another session to go to, but after that session I went to my hotel and I was just so excited about it and I wrote my verses the same night. The next day I laid my verses and the bridge, and then there was “Copy, Paste.”
NL: How involved are you in the production of your new album?
D: Writing is all me. As far as production, I definitely put in my two-cents if I have a producer there that’s making the beat, sometimes if I ever hear anything that I’m like ‘oh maybe this will be dope’, a certain type of melody or anything like that you know. But for the most part it’s just in beats given to me or sometimes you know it will be somebody making a beat on the spot.
NL: Who are some of the producers that you’re working with?
D: Umm, it’s kinda under wraps right now, but of course Pop and Oak, they have actually a couple of joints on my album, and ummm… that’s all I can say right now. But there are a whole lot of different producers and the production is incredible, off the charts, and sonically it just all fits and goes. There’s just every type of track I feel. It’s just a great album and I’m just excited for it to finally come out.
NL: What can the fans expect from your new album?
D: A whole diff… well, I wouldn’t say a whole different side of me, I just think more so what I’ve done taken to not even the next level, but just pass the next level. It’s just the quality, perception, me lyrically, the subject matter — everything that I’m talking about is just bigger and better. It’s up there and I feel as though I can confidently be up there with just great music in general, not even only hip-hop, just music right now.
NL: I know the album is under wraps, but can you tell us are there any collaborations on the album?
D: There are collaborations. I kept, honestly, most if it to me in most songs, but the collaborations that are there are definitely necessary for that song. I didn’t put them on there just to put them on there.
NL: You come from a family of great talent, business and intelligence. What’s the best advice they’ve given you so far?
D: No one specifically in my family tells me to do any certain type of thing. Everybody just really steps back and supports me. They are not all up in my face or constantly calling me while I’m on the road or recording my album. They just let me do me honestly and I respect that you know, cause I do my own thing.
NL: You’re currently on the Scream Tour. What is it like being on stage in front of adoring fans? How does it feel?
D: It’s fun, a whole lot of fun. Just seeing people that go hard for you everyday, that’s just a humbling feeling because you know these are people that you know kinda like just admire you everyday and listen to your music. So to come face to face with them and connect with them and have that interaction and just make it as intimate as possible as I can during those twenty minutes — you know it’s just a whole different feeling if you take it the way that you know performance is meant to be.
NL: What’s the craziest experience you’ve had so far being on tour?
D: I was in Alabama the second night of the Scream Tour. I came out on stage, a girl jumped onstage, she grabbed me up, and they had to get her off of me. It was crazy. (laughing)
NL: What are some of the things you’ve learned being on tour?
D: Well, the first tour I’ve been on was this summer, and that was the Closer To My Dreams tour with BET and 106 and Park. That more so taught me definitely how to take care of myself, and how much goes into it as far as vocal rest for my voice, drinking tea, different things like that and my command on stage that I have. It built my confidence a whole lot and brought a lot out of me that I had already but never brought out before, but I do now in this tour. I’m definitely always learning, you know, I’m definitely no pro onstage yet, and there’s things that I always want to improve on in my stage show, and I always do constantly. I always watch my YouTube videos and critique my set and want to get better constantly.
NL: Do you consider yourself a perfectionist?
D: Whoa, beyond. Beyond in everything that I do.
NL: When the tour concludes, what’s next?
D: After the tour concludes, I think it’s gonna be like promo tour for the album. I’m pretty sure, cause you know the album will be out towards the end of this year/early next year so definitely that, and my second single will already be out so we’re just going to keep going, promoting that and going heavy with that. You know, I’m sure everything’s just gonna keep really just getting better as the tour moves along, and we’ll just have to see where we are going to go.
NL: As an artist what are you striving for?
D: Like I said, just striving for hip-hop to take on new and different heights and just to give music to people that they can relate to or they can be happy to or cry to or say “Oh My God this, I love this song.” I’m just trying to give people great music to just enjoy.
NL: Outside of being an artist, what else do you have going on?
D: Outside of music, I have my sneaker line right now and that’s called Chiv Culture. You can find it on www.chivculture.com, it’s brand new and just got put into Underground Station and Foot Action.
NL: Congratulations on that, that’s awesome.
D: Thank you, thank you.
NL: We noticed that you have a web series?
D: Yeah I have a web series coming up real soon, and Phil the God directed everything, he came with me on my last tour. I put out the trailer probably like a month and a half ago.
NL: Can you hint at what we’ll get to see?
D: Moments of me looking at the things that my fans gave me. Incredible moments on stage, me joking around with my crew and my team, just those moments. And you know, it’s not all fun and games either. Actually like after the first date of the tour that I was on in the summer I lost my voice completely, and you’re going to see that, which is the first webisode that’s going to come. It was about me losing my voice and learning and seeing that it’s not always easy and you definitely have to take care of yourself. Though it may seem like luxury, sometimes you have hardships.
NL: Your fans are known as jetsetters, how did you come up with that name?
D: Well, life of the jetsetter was a blog that I made. It was probably like ’08 or ’07, and a lot of the time people may not know what it means or they think the term jetsetter is the immediate meaning but I kind of put my own meaning to it. It’s just about you being yourself and being innovative and original. Staying that way no matter how hard the peer pressure could be of wanting to be accepted if you’re not like everybody else. So you know that was just something I was going through at the time and that’s why I made that blog, because it was just me putting all the different things that I liked on the blog that may have been different from the people in my school. I just found that a lot of my fans and the people that support me were a reflection of me so they became my jetsetters.
NL: In a recent interview you mentioned you’d never curse in your songs? Why have you made that decision, and do you feel like you’ll be able to hold to it as you get older?
D: Honestly, it wasn’t like a decision that was made. It was more so, you know, I’m just me and being myself and I don’t curse in my music just because it’s just not me. I don’t think I need it, I know I don’t need it and I don’t think its going to be a hard thing to do when I get older because it isn’t me. It’s not like I don’t mind music that has curses in it, I mean most of the albums that I own are explicit, so I don’t have anything against cursing, but it’s just not me.
NL: There’s no question that your family name may have had a little impact on your career, but can you tell us why you would still be where you are today if you didn’t have that (the Simmons name) behind you?
D: Honestly, I think, well of course I know the reason why a lot of people probably just seen what I was up to period was because I was on the show and my dad is who he is, but that doesn’t credit to my success. People enjoying your music has nothing to do with who your dad is or where you came from. Do I think I’d be where I am right now? Who knows. I could be or I couldn’t be, but I’d definitely be doing music because it’s what I love and it’s just not about my dad and what he did or the fact that that was his career. I enjoy it and I honestly couldn’t help to do it, it had nothing to do with the fact that he did it.
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