Fire Starter: Diggy Simmons
Daniel “Diggy” Simmons has his legendary pop’s brash but lovable quality — and it’s most apparent when Rev Run’s son is rapping. “The son of a king, so why would I ever bow down?” he asks on his Internet-famous freestyle “Made You Look (Flow Stoopid).”
The young MC, who hasn’t been 15 years old for even four months yet, now has a record deal under his belt and a following on the Net, thanks to freestyles like the aforementioned “Made You Look” and “Diggy What, Diggy Who?!” Not to mention, a much talked-about blog titled “Life of a Jet Setter: The Young Tastemakers Guide” and, of course, a starring role the Simmons family reality-TV series “Run’s House” on MTV.
Young Simmons has obviously been around hip-hop all his life. His older brother JoJo raps, Dad is recognized as one of the greatest MCs ever, and his uncle Russell is universally hailed as one of hip-hop’s godfathers. But Diggy doesn’t flinch when he considers the weight of that legacy.
“I get a lot of people [asking me about that] in interviews as well,” he said. “They’re like, ‘Do you feel the pressure to uphold the legacy?’ I’m just like, ‘At the end of the day, I know who they are. But I’m really doing me.’ It’s like, I’m not feeling too much pressure, and I like it better that way. And I’ll make it for myself,” added Simmons, who described his upbringing as “normal.”
“[Music] was really something I picked up and did on my own,” Diggy explained of getting on the mic for the first time. “I was writing for a while, doing my thing. I was doing joints off my MacBook on GarageBand. I sent it to my boys through iChat. They’d knock a verse out. It was done like that. I released my first track, got a cool buzz around it, and I released some tracks prior to the mixtape [First Flight]. That’s when I started pushing the tape. Once I pushed the tape, a lot of people were aware that I was rapping. Since the ‘Made You Look’ freestyle, and a lot of people knowing I signed to Atlantic, now many people know.”
Not long after Diggy dropped the “Made You Look” freestyle, he got kudos from Kanye West. And most recently, the guy whose beat he jacked for the freestyle, Nas, gave him props as well.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Nas told Vibe, discussing his impressions of the teen. “Run is the king of rap, and for him to have a son who’s that nice? You don’t even think sh– like that happens. I don’t think we’ve seen that in hip-hop yet — he’s nice, and his father’s the king? That’s historic, bro. That sh– is incredible. That little dude is nice.”
And Diggy shouldn’t be confused with some other rappers in his demographic. He’s actually winning over fans with his rapid flow, as well as his wordplay.
“That’s something I really focus on, because a lot of my inspiration in music, they vary, from Lupe [Fiasco] to A Tribe Called Quest,” said Diggy, who also included Jay-Z and Nas among his favorites. “I love Mos Def. Real lyrical dudes in the game, that’s what I focus on. A lot of the time when you listen to music, you have no focus on what you listen to.
“I’m just letting people hear my music now,” Diggy said. “A lot of people are like, ‘Diggy raps? Ah, OK.’ Before they even hear it, they don’t even wanna hear it. They think it’s gonna be some bubblegum, kiddie-bop type of hip-hop. That’s not even the case.”
Simmons said he’s working on new material that will show his elevation as a wordsmith, but he’s not yet sure if another mixtape will come before his debut album.