Exclusives 25 February 2021
Author: Oli Knight

GRM Exclusive: Digga D: The Resilient shining light of the Drill scene

25 February 2021

If there is one person who has come to personify the whirlwind story of the explosion of drill music in the last few years, it is undeniably Digga D. From the dizzying heights of success he has experienced to the many trials and tribulations which he has had to navigate, it is clear that the story of Digga D’s rise to the top of the UK Drill Scene is not a simple tale of an extremely talented artist deservingly receiving his flowers. Since his “Next Up” alongside fellow CGM members TY and Sav’o dropped, Digga has has three tracks in the UK Singles Top 20, released a genre defining project in Double Tap Diaries and bizarrely, even had Zac Efron of all people use his smash hit “No Diet” as the soundtrack for a clip on Instagram.

However, Digga D has also had his fair share of challenges, which have threatened to derail a career which appears destined for the history books; from repeatedly being thrown in prison to the point it became a running joke amongst his fans, to having to adhere to incessantly strict and restrictive guidelines for his lyrical content set out by the police. Ahead of the release of his project Made in the Pyrex, we took a look at the story of Digga D, and just why this tape could cement his legacy to a new level of artistic excellence.

Digga D burst onto the UK drill scene with the release of several tracks which almost instantly became underground classics. Alongside his fellow 1011 members, Digga shot to fame in the drill scene with the release of “Kill Confirmed”, “Play for the Pagans”, and “No Hook”; all of which comfortably cleared a million views before their late removal from youtube. This was a very different Digga to the one we know today; the intricate rhyme schemes and complex flows we know him for now were not really present. Instead, these tracks were much rawer, focused on asserting his authority in the streets and cheekily dissing his opps.

Despite the massive influx of support for Digga and his music, there was little indication from Digga D that he was trying to have a music career off the back of this success. Clearly Digga had immense potential, but there was little indication he was destined to become the torchbearer of the UK drill scene that he is now. One track, however, would change everything.

In an interview with Complex in 2019, Digga recounted recording his “Next Up” merely a few days before being sent to HMP Feltham; only to then hear the song being blasted throughout his wing, to what appeared to be an extremely positive reaction. This was the first time he had even heard the full song. What would follow, Digga wouldn’t have imagined in his wildest dreams; it shot to nearly 12 million views, and became the talk of the UK drill scene. Fans, bloggers and fellow artists alike were taken aback by the sheer talent of CGM, but especially Digga D, whose many memorable lines would become etched into UK drill culture forever.

However, a serious challenge was just around the corner for Digga; after having been apprehended by the police on the 9th of November, 2017, Digga and four other CGM members would be sentenced to various lengths. Digga D was sentenced for one year on a detention and training order; evading prison, but still facing a major setback to the prospects of a career which had seemed on course for further success. This sentence roughly coincided with Digga D and four other CGM members receiving CBO’s, ensuring that the police effectively had editorial control over any music that the members of CGM wanted to release. From then on, any time Digga D wanted to release a song, it had to undergo a process of being screened by the police first, who would focus on the removal of any content they deemed to hold the potential to incite violence. The significance of such an event cannot be understated; it was the first time a CBO had been used to censor the musical output of an artist, and appeared to mark the advent of a new period for rap music in the UK; in which the authorities who had made no attempt to understand the root of the art form relentlessly attempted to banish and demonise it. And who a better target than the new golden boy of drill, Digga D?

The CBO could have been the end of Digga D’s career in drill; it certainly would have been for many of his colleagues within the scene, as there are few rappers who can maintain and improve on interest from fans in their music after being censored by the police. A prime example is the decline Skengdo and AM received after their injunction, which had similar features of the CBO that Digga D was handed. However, Digga D was insistent he would not fade into obscurity, and instead begun furiously writing, crafting ways to get around the censorship of the police by coding his language, littering his verses with intricate double entendres, metaphors and similes so only those in the know would be able to decipher it. Tracks such as “Who?” and “No Porkies” were resounding beacons of hope for the future of Digga D, with him clearly establishing he could make great drill music regardless of police interference.

The peak of this period for Digga was undoubtedly his debut “Mad About Bars”, a freestyle which shot to nearly the same level of notoriety as his breakout “Next Up”. Lines such as: “If they gets nicked with a cannon they won’t stay real and sing like Mariah”, and “Them man act for the net/But that’s not how they are off set”, or “when me and my Migos pull up, they Takeoff, make off, they’re wet” signalled the evolution of Digga into a full blown lyrical wizard, proving that the efforts of the police to censor him had only made him more dedicated to improving his craft and succeeding in the music industry.

Currently sitting at just over nine million views, there is little doubt this freestyle played a pivotal role in marking the emergence of Digga D as one of the best lyricists in the Drill scene.

Digga D had so far experienced viral fame online as a result largely of his “Next Up” and “Mad About Bars” performances, with these videos in sum accumulating around 20 million views on Youtube, an undeniable achievement for a drill artist releasing music in the 2017/2018 era. However, an even more explosive track penned by Digga was just around the corner, and would catapult him to even greater heights in the drill and wider music scene. This track was the future classic “No Diet”, currently sitting at over 22 million views on youtube and recipient of a top 20 spot on the UK singles charts; Digga’s first chart placement of his career.

Infectiously catchy, yet still brimming with clever punchlines and intricate flows, “No Diet” was Digga’s best song to date at the time, and thus it was little surprise how rapidly it rose to a meteoric level of fame within the UK. It wasn’t just the song itself which demonstrated a progression in Digga D the artist; from the crisp video supplied by Teeeezy C to the marketing campaign of leaving stickers advertising the song throughout London for fans to find, it was clear Digga was beginning to think more seriously about the overall package he presented to fans.

On the 17th of May, 2019, Digga D released his debut project, titled Double Tap Diaries. In my opinion, this tape was one of the most definitive UK drill projects released over the last few years. Double Tap Diaries was a real statement from Digga, forcing the drill scene to seriously consider him in the conversation as the best drill artist in the UK. What was so special about Double Tap Diaries, was how it maintained a drill essence throughout the project; despite Digga dipping his toes into other genres like Bashment, and offering a couple of more rap orientated tracks, the tape is undeniably still a drill project.

The efforts of the police to compromise his art had appeared to have only driven Digga to tap into a higher gear of lyrical ability, wowing his fans with an unprecedented level of lyricism throughout an entire project. The first three songs of the tape, “P4DP, “No Diet”, and “Imagine” are all jumpy drill anthems, combining catchy hooks with menacing beats and wordplay ridden verses. The fact Digga was able to create such high quality drill, which felt like a progression from his earlier music, in spite of his CBO, illustrated clearly his dedication to working around the roadblocks set out for him whilst maintaining his musical integrity.

This tape was unique for reasons other than its quality; it charted at number 11 on the UK albums chart, becoming the highest charting UK drill album at the time. “Double Tap Diaries” was a clear statement from Digga that he was here to stake his place in the upper echelons of the UK drill scene, but also that he had significant mainstream potential, and could potentially be the representative the drill scene has been crying out for to take the genre to new heights.

Further brushes with the law would impinge on Digga’s attempts to transcend. However, Digga D demonstrated he is cut from different cloth, and instead is wholly dedicated to making something of his music career. His release in May 2020 was marked with stringent conditions; the Defending Digga D documentary filmed by the BBC documented this period. Digga had to move to a secure location in Norwich, having to ‘check in’ every few hours to record his location being the same; once again this created all kinds of obstacles for Digga to surpass. Studio sessions, music videos, and general networking within the scene became fundamentally much more challenging; yet Digga once again persevered, demonstrating just how much he wants success in the industry.

Digga has shown a remarkable ability to conform to the censorship restrictions set out by the police, dropping a string of big tracks “Woi”, “Chingy”, “Bringing it back” and “Toxic”. Thankfully he has enjoyed a relatively peaceful few months since his release in October; finally it seems he is being allowed to get back to focusing on music without any significant obstacles threatening to derail him. Despite this, Digga still receives a lot of attention from the police, who are keen to make sure the poster boy of the UK drill scene doesn’t slip up.

There is no doubt that Digga D’s career thus far has been a rollercoaster of events; from bursting onto the scene with a brutal, but unpolished sound in 2017, to having a CBO placed on his music, to then developing into an extremely technical artist, only to have run ins with the law restrict the amount of success he could enjoy off his hard work.

Finally, it appears Digga may be in a position where his troubles with the law are in the past, and thus Made In The Pyrex could mark the start of an exciting new period in Digga’s career where we see him consistently focused on music, with no external pressures. Whilst it has been fascinating and compelling to watch Digga refuse to let his music career go to waste as he navigated trials and tribulations, we’re ready to see Digga reach the potential we know he has and fully embed himself into the industry. Made In The Pyrex may well be the project that does just that.