I think people often underestimate how much pressure comes with being a child of hip-hop royalty like Joseph “Reverend Run” Summons formerly of rap group Run DMC which many would credit being a part of the founding fathers of hip-hop. Not only do the Simmons’ children have all eyes on them career-wise with fans expecting nothing short of greatness with every task they attempt, but they’re also expected to do it all without a single transgression, being raised in a religious household.
Daniel “Diggy” Simmons, who many would argue is one of the most musically talented of the Simmons’ clan, recently shared why he had to take some time away from the spotlight. After accolades from Kanye West in 2010 in response to him freestyling over Nas’s “Made You Look”, fans began to realize the cute little kid from Run’s House had a whole lot of talent. After a few mixtapes, Simmons solidified his success with he release of his first studio album in 2012, Unexpected Arrival. But besides a few singles (and dabbling in the fashion scene and a regular role on Freeforms’s Grownish) Simmons seemed to fall back from the music scene before recently returning with his latest album Lighten Up. The album shares tales of growing pains, trading optimistic innocence with the harsh humility of adulthood and making time for self-awareness and self-care. The 23-year-old recently sat down with VIBE for an exclusive interview on what he hopes fans will take away from his latest project and the lessons he’s learned over the past few years.
When asked why he named the album Lighten Up, Simmons shares that although he’s forever confident (he IS an Aries) chasing perfection can be exhausting and ultimately harmful to your health:
“It’s a reminder to myself. A positive affirmation to myself and to other people just to not take yourself too seriously. Of course, we take our journey seriously and we put in the work to get to where we want to get to, but I think a lot of the time we focus too much on the end result or getting to the finish line. I feel like in that process of us becoming better people and becoming better at our crafts, we have to lighten up and not be so hard on ourselves in the process of all of that.”
With releasing his first album before he was barely out of his teens, he also shared how beneficial he believes taking a break from music to be, specifically during a time of transition in his life:
“I think for someone my age to be in it like that—you’re already figuring yourself out at that age. That’s such a transitional period in your life. I think the break was definitely needed and my age could have possibly been a reason for why I needed it.”
While promoting the album, Simmons has shared he was diagnosed with OCD at one point. The song “Testimony” digs into his struggles and he shares that he’s learned to regularly acknowledge and address his mental health needs, both with the help of mental health professionals and music:
“I think everything has to be set aside. I have a therapist, I go to therapy. I feel like that’s one way that you get things out. I feel like music is a therapy, that is therapeutic in itself. Yeah, I just think that you have to make time for it if you wanna feel progression with it.”
But even with finding and forgiving himself, he shares that at the end of the day, father Joseph “Reverend Run” Simmons has undoubtedly helped shaped who he is musically:
“My dad has shaped my taste in what I like and that basically shaped the way in which I make music.”
You can read the interview in its entirety here.