New York, NY – Diggy Simmons — the fourth child of Run-DMC’s Rev Run and nephew of Russell Simmons — has always had bars. But he wasn’t always putting those bars on display.
Yes, there were glimmers of interest during his time on the Run’s House reality TV show, but Diggy didn’t release his first mixtape, The First Flight, until the last season in 2009. He admits his famous family had something to do with his hesitation to step into the spotlight.
“I always could rap and always liked to rap, but I strayed away from it completely,” Diggy tells HipHopDX. “I didn’t want people thinking I was doing this just because my family.”
With some encouragement from people in his inner circle, Diggy moved forward and dropped his appropriately titled debut album, Unexpected Arrival, in 2012.
“The way I started everything was just personal,” he says. “I was just recording songs by myself and it escalated to my friends being like, ‘This stuff is good. Take it serious.’ So, I did. I put some stuff up on YouTube — and this was the blog era — so I just kept making making connections and meeting people on Twitter.”
Over the years, he’s collaborated with DJ Premier, Pharrell Williams and Lupe Fiasco, and was even embroiled in a little beef with J. Cole. Then, he retreated from the music business and focused on other endeavors such as fashion and acting.
After a two-year hiatus, the 23-year-old is back with a new video for “It Is What It Is,” which will be followed by the release of his sophomore album.
“I’ve been in a time period of self-discovery and just becoming better mentally, coming into myself as an adult,” he explains. “It’s a transitional period, you know? After I released my first album, I had to take that time to myself and at the same time, lay low and not overthink the creative process.
“I had to not be in my head so much and kind of just let go. That’s why I named the single ‘It Is What It Is.’ It’s about kind of just letting things be what they are.”
While Diggy has always had the guidance of Rev Run and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, he recognizes kids have to make their own mistakes to learn life lessons. However, he says DMC has been a major influence on him.
“Every time I see DMC, it’s so much love,” he says. “He’s a super fitness junkie. He’s inspiring from that standpoint because I’m really into a healthy lifestyle and fitness. It’s become a part of my life over the last few years.”
Unlike some of his peers, Diggy isn’t really into partying and wiling out, but he doesn’t judge anyone who is.
“Those elements of growing up are inevitable,” he says. “It may not be a big part of what I do, and I don’t necessarily look down on it or say that I’m doing any better than those people because I have my own ways that I’m bumping my head.
“People older than us can always tell us, ‘Don’t do this. Don’t do that,’ but until you experience these things on your own, you won’t understand why they said what they said. You have to, like I said, for a lack of better words, bump your head. It’s all lessons.”
Diggy’s new album is expected to arrive this fall. Until then, check out the “It Is What It Is” video above.