The rap industry is a tough nut to crack. There are tons of acts vying for the attention and disposable income of rap music fans. Therefore it is helpful to have a name that people recognize and a leg up from family members who are already in the biz. Diggy has Run DMC founding member DJ Run Simmons as his father and Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Records, as his uncle. That is some serious pedigree. Obviously this young man has had the advantage of being around hip hop and rap artists since birth and some serious industry connections. That being said, 17-year-old Diggy Simmons has not overtly cashed in on his last name as he drops it when he is performing. He released his first mix tape in 2009 and as a result of its popularity he signed with Atlantic Records. In 2011 he was named as one of Billboard’s Artists to Watch. It is with all this in the back of my mind that I listened to Unexpected Arrival.
This guy might have some advantages but he will have to go that much further to prove he isn’t simply a product of nepotism. What struck me first off was the title of the album. Unexpected Arrival? I cannot think of a more expected arrival based on his DNA! From the very first listen through of the album I was pleasantly surprised at how listenable all the tracks are. A nice mix of mellow and upbeat tracks. Surrounded by veteran producers and beatmakers, Diggy shows himself to be a versatile rapper. What surprised me most about the debut album was the content. Lyrically this is mature stuff for a 17-year-old. While a song about making it in the rap industry is not so surprising, his takes on politics and race are. I was pleased that he was not going to do the usual rap bling, cars, guns, and women thing. But I wonder who his target audience is as there are not too many young rap fans that care about substance in their songs. Hopefully he’ll find an audience as his tight tracks deserve it. Bravo to the young man who obviously wants to be taken seriously and judged on his own merit.