Diggy Simmons and the Atlantic Records staff convened with a number of friends, family, journalists, bloggers, and most importantly fans at Tribeca Cinemas in New York City last week to preview Diggy’s debut album, Unexpected Arrival, to be released on March 20.
Surrounded by televisions playing some of Diggy’s videos, a “candy bar,” and a non-alcoholic specialty drink called “The Jetsetter,” the environment couldn’t be more tailored to the demographic Diggy connects with so well. It wasn’t long after most guests arrived that the first session’s listeners gathered in the theater to hear the album with some visual accompaniment.
To our dismay, Diggy’s publicist at Atlantic, Sydney Margetson, went over the usual ground rules about no recording. It was then time for Diggy to deliver his own short speech, which thanks to the screaming girls throughout the theatre, made it a little challenging for everyone to hear it. However, the short but powerful statement he made, showed off the 16-year old’s maturity, progress, and evolution from being the son of Rev. Run to an artists and more importantly a man all his own. Then the lights went down.
The album kicked off with “The Arrival (Intro)” which included a motivational speech before the album’s second track, “Hello World,” began blaring through the speakers. As one of several songs about his come-up and addressing both his fans and detractors, he asks, “Are you with me for the long haul?” Diggy shows a well-balanced versatility between lyricism and subject matter. He never takes it too far, but never plays it extremely safe either.
After the female-directed “I Need to Know,” it was becoming more and more apparent that this was an album made purely for the fans and supporters who have been down with Diggy from day one, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Then it was time for the album’s current single, “88” featuring Jadakiss, which is, hands-down, one of the album’s greatest standouts, and even includes shootouts to Kimbo Slice, Michael Irvin, and Chris Tucker just for kicks.
Diggy strikes a one-two punch with the combination of “Two Up” and “Unforgiveable Blackness,” the former being a track with definite potential to be a future single, and the latter being the more introspective sounding Diggy most people have ever heard. “Two Up” includes lines like “married to my craft with no intent of cheating,” “I’ma thank you in my speech when I win” and “you think my hype is all gas but you fill the tank.” Over a soulful ode, Diggy pays respect to social and political icons like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. on “Unforgiveable Blackness,” where he addresses the use of the N-word, and plays up how he was not raised in the projects but was raised in the “boroughs.”
Next up was the album’s second song for the ladies, “Special Occasion” featuring Tank, where the crooner sings about “living life like it’s a special occasion.” On the triumphant and booming “Glow In the Dark”, Diggy cuts right to the chase by speaking on his newfound success and even goes after his so-called haters with lines like, “I can smell the victory/ They used to pick on me/ Now they picking me.”
One of the album’s weakest songs is “Four Letter Word”, which may fare better on future listens but, ironically enough, is the song that Diggy said he was the most proud of after the listening event took place. He even gets his “sing” on with “Four Letter Word” to mostly pretty positive results, however the subject matter is just to juvenile.
The Jermih-assisted, 106th & Park smash record “Do It Like You” comes in as the album’s tenth track and had literally all the younger girls singing along in the audience as the song rocked through the speakers overhead. As the album came to a close, Diggy didn’t opt for the easy way out and manages to deliver two of the album’s greatest showcases of his ability with “Tom Edison” and “The Reign”. Amidst lines about being “all blacked out” and looking for his lady, Diggy comes hard with his closers that also feature some blazing production.
Diggy addresses an issue that many have brought up in the past when he says, “They say I’m only on ’cause of my name.” After hearing his debut album and seeing his massive potential to grow and become a bigger and better artist, it is clear that no matter how exactly he got “on,” he’s here to stay, show and prove, and do it 100 percent his way.
Diggy Simmons’ Unexpected Arrival Hits Stores March 20!