Sixteen year-old Daniel "Diggy" Simmons got his start on "Run's House," the long-running MTV reality show about his family that co-starred his dad, Run-D.M.C.'s Rev Run.
Diggy used the show as a springboard to hip-hop semi-stardom: He released several well-received mixtapes, signed to Atlantic Records and is currently recording his official, as yet untitled major label debut. He's also part of the Scream tour, which comes to DAR Constitution Hall on Sunday (Mindless Behavior and New Boyz are also on the bill).
Simmons got on the phone to talk about his upcoming album, his ongoing tour, and his struggle to be taken seriously.
What can you say about your new album? You've kept it pretty much under wraps.
It is still under wraps as far as producers or the [song names]. It's basically done. When I get off tour, it's basically about me getting songs [finished]. Since January I've just been working really hard on it and I'm beyond proud of it. I wanted my debut album to be a classic not even hip-hop album, but album in general, one of those albums that people love…and that's what it feels like.
Is it hard to make it your own when you're so young, to get people to listen to [how you want things to be in the studio]?
My sound and just the way I am, I'm not like a kid. Even down to my content, the album is for everybody. It's not like a kiddie album….It's not like somebody writes a song for me and I go in and do it….just the way I am creatively, I'm hands on.
[Was it inevitable that] you would do this for a living, growing up the way you did? You were probably never going to be a doctor or a lawyer..
I could have been a doctor, I could have been a lawyer. It's not because of my family that I do it, I do it because I love it. I was always able to rap. I used to do musicals in school, I just love to perform in general. I started rapping when I was five 'til like the age of eight and then I swayed away from it, and then I had no choice but to get back into it. And nobody knew, not my dad not my mom not my brothers or sisters or anybody. It was just me writing.
Did you find that people took you seriously right away? There's a lot of skeptical people out there.
I usually say the show was a gift and a curse. The gift is, people want to listen. I'm not blind to that. The fact that I was on "Run's House" makes people want to listen, but that doesn't necessarily mean I would be in the boat I'm in now. Not everybody makes it, even being from a certain type of family. People are definitely taking me more serious, although some people are still skeptical….I'm just anxious to get my music out, because I feel like it will bring people together through the music.
Being on XXL's Freshman List this year must have helped people take you seriously.
That was a huge thing for me. I was jumping around when I heard about that. That definitely gave people a sign…You can't say he just got on there because of his dad.
It seems in the beginning you were reluctant to talk to your dad about your career. Has that changed?
We do discuss it more, but at first I was very, very — what's the word? I was very determined to do it by myself. That was something that made me sway away from him knowing anything about what I was doing. I just believed in me, that I could take what I wanted to do where I could with the work that I put in.
With the way [new technology] is working these days, you're probably explaining things to him.
Yeah, definitely. He's not one of those like stubborn oldheads that used to be in hip-hop. He understands it, how certain artists might not need labels, or how the Internet is [important]. He understands.