Philadelphia-MC Digs Darklighter über sein neues Album “Boomboxcutter”, den Bruch mit Arrakis Records, Hobbyfotografie, Philly-Rap im Allgemeinen, Vaterfreuden – und alles was sonst noch von Interesse ist.
Digs, could you please drop some words about yourself first?
I was born, raised, and trapped in Philadelphia. There’s something in the water here. I’m a part time rapper, ex-graffiti writer, avid photographer, functioning alcoholic, yet still a #1 dad. I started rapping about 93-94. I was in a group called “The Dead Pigeons”. We put out some wax and cassettes. Just some local shit. Things weren’t really jumping off and I didn’t like the direction things were going. Took a break from that group around 95. Starting going to school and writing on walls. Around 99 I stopped that nonsense and started recording songs again.
Philly got a long list of well known rappers: The Hilltop Hustlers, The Roots, Bahamadia, Reef the Lost Cauze and many more. Where do you put yourself in this list and did anyone of those inspire you to rap?
I would never put myself on any list…That’s for the listeners to decide. When it comes to influences from Philly, that list is long. If I had to narrow it down, it would be 3XDope for style and finesse. I would include DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince for their hitmaking abilities. Tuff Crew is definitely on that list. They go under the radar sometimes when people talk about old school Philly artists but they made such dope songs. There are rumors of a reunion album coming out on a nice indie label, I’m really hyped about that. Then there is The Roots. I have seen the progression in person from when they were rapping on the streets to where they are at today. They would be the opening act for all the big names in hip hop back in the day and they would do such amazing things nobody in the crowd even cared who came on next. They are and will always be on some next level steez.
Ah, remembering the good old times, Three Times Dope “Original Stylin’” used to by me favourite album back then. But let’s talk about Rap nowadays, what’s going on
in Philly’s Rap scene right now? I know the underground is quite big with rappers like Ohene and Random from the RAHM Nation camp, Side Effect, Boo Banga and many more…
PEEDI PEEDI, Def Jam needs to put that album out already…Peedi got that ill charisma and flow that ain’t being matched right now….Beanie, people don’t give him his due respect for being the originator to a style that a lot of these young rappers in Philly are emulating… Freeway, he brought a whole new style to the table as well…damn after saying all that can we get a new State Property album……..Reef is killing it, Outerspace has been dope for the past decade and they ain’t stopping. Maylay Sparks, dude gets slept on but he always brings that ill shit…I was really hyped to get Maylay on my new album because I always respected him as an MC….you mentioned Side Effect, he blessed me with his most recent mixtape, and that jawn was banging at my last barbecue from beginning to end…there are mad heads out here, too many in my opinion but everybody raps it’s almost a right of passage in some neighborhoods now…kids are shooting each over some rap bullshit…it’s wild…I fall back from the overall ‘hip hop’ scene when it comes down to it though…you can usually just find me in a local bar watching sports….
You just mentioned your new album, what can you tell us about it?
Bomboxcutter – it’ been a long time coming. When I first decided to put the album together a few years back, I had my first son. That put everything on hold for a while. The tracks range from songs done in 2004 up to 2007. I think the word ‘boomboxcutter’ itself says a lot as far as the sounds and direction of the record. The beats on it bang… Hence the word boombox… And the lyrics slice thru every track representing the boxcutter. I feel that I’m an observationalist (not even sure if that’s a word). I observe the world and my response to those observations is my written word. It’s a pretty simple format. I think it goes back to my passion for photography.
So being a young father, did that have any influences on the album? Did it change your perspective on certain things in life?
To be honest, I wouldn’t want my son to hear this album until I felt he was able to handle and understand the context. With that said who’s to say I will be able to stop him. Nobody prevented me from listening to the controversial artists of my youth. Granted my parents/family didn’t care for the Public Enemys, N.W.A.’s, etc. But hearing what I wanted was inevitable. I will say this though. Now that this album is done I am making more kid friendly music. Now how friendly it turns out will be determined. I want to do this because I like to be well rounded and not get pigeonholed with what kind of music I make.
Was being responsible for your son the only reason why it took you some years to release your debut album? I still remember a young and hungry Digs spitting on the Arrakis Records Sampler “The Spice”, that was 5 years ago. So what did you do all the time?
I was kind of burned out after the whole Arrakis Records thing. I was doing too many shows locally. I still recorded and recorded, then my son came along and everything got put on the back burner. Also, I consider myself more of a part time songmaker than an everyday rapper. Thinking like that helps me put the music more into perspective. I think about my hunger from 5 years ago, and while hunger is good it can make you lose sight of the big picture which is quality music.
So what did you do besides rapping those years? I noticed you are taking pretty good photos…
Yeah I’ve been big into photography since 1993. It’s kind of a side gig separate from my 9-5 job. I have a nice collection of philadelphia graffiti. I’ve been shooting a lot of boxing lately. I’m big into photojournalism. Besides photography I’m a big sports fan specifically football. So during the season my weeks usually revolve around Sunday. I go to every Philadelphia Eagles home game. We get down to the games at least 6 hours before the game. A lot of barbecue and drinking goes on there. It’s pretty wild.
That remembers me of visiting a soccer game in Germany with some friends, just having a good time. Do you play football?
If I played football right now, they better make sure an ambulance is near by. The years have caught up with me. I will play basketball here and there but not as much as I should. I eat and drink too much.
Ha ha, I keep it like that, watching sports is more interesting than doing it. But let’s get back to the music business. What can you tell us about Illatropolis and what is your current label situation like?
Illatropolis is my only label situation. A person named Span came up with the word Illatropolis a long time. He was a wild dude who would always come up with odd new slang. He has since passed away. Upcoming releases will include albums from: Uncle T, Stape Mega (instrumental album), and my follow up album “Antique Roadshow”.
What’s up with Arrakis Records? Does this label still exist?
I don’t think Arrakis is still around as an entity. I’m not even sure it was ever really a label. Without sounding like I’m talking shit but it was really just someone with a credit card putting out records. At the same time it was a great learning experience for me. I now never make records or do business with people that you wouldn’t be friends with in normal every day affairs. Obviously I’m still real cool with some people from that time like my producer Stape and Uncle T even though I knew Stape way before our time at Arrakis. Stape was the first to leave Arrakis and Uncle T and I quickly followed. After that it seemed to dismantle on its own. It was just a difference in direction I guess. I think some of the other artists from back then still make music/records, I wish them all the best of luck.
You just mentioned Stape and Uncle T, will they be on your album “Boomboxcutter”?
Stape produced and recorded 75% of the record. He did a lot of backup vocals. He also mixed/mastered the entire album. Stape is my second set of ears for everything I do. Uncle t is on 4 tracks, he even has a solo song on there. Our styles are kinda different but they balance each other out.
I heard RJD2 produced a track for the album? How did you connect with him?
That was all Uncle T. He connected with him during RJ’s MHZ days and purchased some tracks off of him.
So when and where will the album be available?
Release date is looking like the end of September. It will be available online and locally here in Philly, out the trunk.
And what’s next for you after putting out the album?
Well right now I’m about to head to Jamaica for a couple of days. Once I return I’m going to get started on my next record. I might do a little east coast tour and make some videos for “Boomboxcutter”. Besides that I will forever be chilling.
Chilling is always a good idea… Any last words to your fans?
Listen to good music, buy dope music, download shit your unsure shit about. Peace to Germany!