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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014

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In Music Commentary

Diggy Simmons, son of the "Run" in Run-DMC and nephew to business powerhouse Russell Simmons, has made his own name in the world of hip-hop. (PHOTO: Patrick Hoelck)

In Music Commentary

He returns to The Rave this Thursday to promote his debut album. (PHOTO: Patrick Hoelck)

Diggy Simmons makes his voice heard on his new Scream Tour


Being a child star is the dream of many kids that love to do music, act or play sports, but it's not a likely path or reality for many youth.

Of the kids that do make it into the entertainment industry, some benefit from the fact that their family already has connections to the industry in some way. Actress Emma Roberts is daughter of actor Eric Roberts and is the niece of one of the top actresses in Hollywood, Julia Roberts. Similarly, Jaden and Willow Smith, son and daughter of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, have been able to benefit from their parents' connections to launch their young careers in the entertainment business.

Another up-and-coming young star is Daniel Dwayne Simmons III, better known as Diggy Simmons, son of the "Run" in legendary hip-hop group Run-DMC and nephew to ingenious business powerhouse Russell Simmons.

Diggy became a member of the entertainment industry at the young age of 10 when his family was the subject of MTV reality show "Run's House," which ran from the fall of 2005 to the summer of 2009. Once the show ended, Diggy began pursuing a career in hip-hop which eventually led him to signing a record deal with Atlantic Records after successfully launching his first solo mixtape. His work since has earned him a coveted spot on the cover of XXL Magazine's yearly "Freshman" issue, which indicates who they believe will be the most successful new young guns in the rap game.

Still in the midst of his teenage years, the now 16-year-old Diggy is prepping for the release of his debut album through his new Scream Tour: NXG, which hits Milwaukee's The Rave/Eagle's Ballroom this Thursday and features Mindless Behavior, Milwaukee's Jacob Latimore, Hamilton Park and The OMG Girlz.

The new music that Diggy and his label are prepping is a release that Diggy believes will show his growth as a lyricist and rapper in general while giving people stories that are relatable.

"I've definitely gotten better since the three mixtapes that I put out - just better content-wise, better lyrically. It's just a great project. Sonically you can just listen to it from top to bottom and almost get a story from it because it covers almost every single type of thing that you'd want to hear, not just in hip-hop music, but in general. I've taken a lot of time on it. Besides the fact that I'm a perfectionist, I just want to give people my best body of work. That's what I feel like it is.I'm beyond excited because it's definitely going to surprise a lot of people."

Diggy attributes the growth he's experienced recently to the work he's put in since his first mixtape, which allowed him to find himself and exactly what direction he wanted his sound to go in.

"The mixtapes and the freestyles and just working on music in
general definitely more than just made me better, it made me find my niche and my sound and, you know, where I fit in musically. Not with the world, but more so myself and what works best for me. I definitely attribute it to the mixtapes and all the work that I've done prior to making this album."

This Thursday won't be the first time that Diggy has been in Milwaukee to do a show, but he says that this latest show is largely different from his last tour and is bigger in scope than his previous visit.

"If you saw me on the Closer To My Dreams tour, which was at The Rave as well – it was the BET 106 & Park tour – it's definitely a whole different show from that. But even though it's really big and grand and really epic, it still has an intimate feel to it. I definitely interact with all the people that come out to see me; I definitely make that an intimate experience for them and make them feel really close to me. But, it's definitely high energy and it's just a fun, good time from top to bottom. I'm definitely in love with my set and I love just playing it every night."

With such a historically important family, especially when talking about the genre of hip-hop and the hip-hop culture itself, Diggy wants to set it straight that he's doing what he does because it's his love and not because he's trying to live up to the legends already in his family.

"I mean no disrespect to anybody in my family, or my last name, or my dad, but it's definitely not that. It's my own drive. I, myself, want to take hip-hop to new heights. I just want to make it something globally that's for everybody and that's what I feel my album has as well. It just has this universal, great feel that even though in my verses I'm rhyming and rapping, it's way more than hip-hop is. But, it still has the basics and you know, makes it feel like it has both touches to it."

Being 16, education is something that still comes first to the aspiring emcee, and his new tour schedule is set up perfectly around his education schedule and that of the young people that wish to see the tour.

"Even though I do what I do, and that's what people see me do all the time, I always keep education first and all the people around me keep it first and always make sure it goes in my schedule. The Scream Tour has worked out great because since all the kids are in school during the week, all the concerts are during the weekend. So it's not like I really have to fit too much around the shows because they're not consecutive, over and over. It's like three days on, and then the week off."

As a young man in a position that so many other young people want to be in, he strongly cautions them that an education is integral to success, which is why he's going to graduate from high school and also pursue a college degree in the future.

"I definitely think that education, like I said for me, comes first. You have to go there first to get to that certain place. There's way more adult stars than there are child stars and that's because those adult stars first went to the books and they went to school and they did what they had to do to get to where they wanted to be, and I definitely think that's important. Even though I won't be able to be on campus and have that same experience, I want to do online courses. Even though I'm going to be on the road, I'm going to pursue that with college."

Whether or not Diggy will be one of the next sensations today's youth grab onto is something that's yet to be seen, but whatever happens, the young man has his head on straight and is very level-headed about the experience.

His latest single, "Do It Like You," can be heard here:


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