Meet the Prince of Hip-Hop: Diggy Simmons

Meet the Prince of Hip-Hop: Diggy Simmons

With the American genre's legacy coursing through his veins, all he needs is a crown.

With the American genre's legacy coursing through his veins, all he needs is a crown.

Text: Thomas Chou

While it's become run-of-the-mill for burgeoning rappers and artists to claim reverence towards the genre of hip-hop, it’s not often that you find a musician who was literally born into it. Diggy Simmons, son of the legendary Run-DMC founder Joseph Simmons, is the embodiment of hip-hop through and through, born and raised. While Diggy has taken some time off since his last release while solidifying his status as an XXL Freshman in 2015, he’s officially returning and is making 2018 his comeback year.

Catching the NYC-based artist amidst the whirlwind that is the release of his album "Lighten Up", V had the opportunity to chat with Diggy about what the album’s all about, the acting and modeling he’s been during his break, and where he sees his creative path down the road. Read on to get a glimpse into the mind of a certified member of American hip-hop’s royal court.

Tell me about your new album, the last time I spoke with you it was still in the process of being made! How long has it been since your last release, what does it feel like to be putting out a full body of work? 

It’s been 6 years since my last project, and to release something after all of this time feels very liberating. There’s so many life experiences, highs and lows, that I’ve been wanting to express. It feels good to finally get them out.

Your sound is classically hip-hop, but you’ve stated that you were influenced by R&B grooves as a child, and of course, your father. How would you describe the tone of your new album, is it different from what we’ve heard from you in the past? 

I think it’s what I’ve always done and wanted to do, but even more fine tuned and focused. There’s more live instrumentation too, and those are some of my favorite parts of the album.

From acting to music to fashion, you’ve got so many different projects going on. Your star is undoubtedly on the rise, from your recurring role in Grown-ish, to walking in a Dolce & Gabbana runway show. How do you balance all of your creative endeavors? Don’t you ever tire out? 

I feel like at my age, I’m at that point in my life, where it really matters how much I build for myself. So I’ve been feeling like I have to go hard in order to capitalize off of where I am in my youth.

You mention that you’ve struggled with OCD. I feel as though struggles with mental illness, particularly in the hip-hop industry, is something that looked down upon or ignored. Can you talk about how you deal with OCD/how it affects you, and what made you decide to be so open about it? 

The only thing I wanted to do with this album was to make it a complete time capsule of what my life has been in my time off. I was showing the symptoms of having OCD and was diagnosed with OCD in within that span. My personal struggle with overthinking,  being too hard on every thing I do, not feeling like I’m good enough, or my creative idea weren’t good enough were a big part of what I went through when I wasn’t making music. I had to tell it.

As fans re-orient and re-introduce themselves to the new you, what do you hope they take away from your new album? Who is Diggy Simmons after all these years?

I hope my fans take away that it is okay to be themselves, with the pressure of figuring yourself out and trying to understand the world around you at the same time, I hope they can take away a sense of comfort and a means to be their authentic self. As far as who I am, I’m just a creative trying to make good music and create art.

What exciting plans do you have for 2019 that we should keep an eye out for? Do you plan on touring or performing live?

I am looking to tour – I’m open to perform live where ever they will have me, I love my fans and I want to be able to have that experience with them.

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