For the past three years, Ladbroke Grove’s Digga D has trumped his competition time and time again with his menacing drill hits. Before his 2019 breakthrough hit ‘No Diet’, the young west Londoner had been in and out of jail while suffering sanctions that are, effectively, musical censorship (in 2018, his work was included in the drill videos banned from YouTube at the behest of the Metropolitan Police, who deemed them “violent”).
So it amazes many that he’s managed to have such a successful career: Digga D is a Top Five-charting drill star who has now unveiled his largely brilliant third mixtape.
Born in 2000, Digga – real name Rhys Herbert – grew up hearing ubiquitous ‘00s rap hits, so it’s no surprise to hear him sample the songs of 50 Cent: ‘Pump 101’ works in G-Unit’s ‘Stunt 101′ while ‘What You Reckon’, featuring rising drill hotshot B-Lovee, interpolates ’21 Questions’. These touch points are perfect for Digga’s brash and boisterous lyrics across the mixtape, with ‘Hold It Down’ particularly proving his musical prowess to be similar to 50 Cent’s. Like the tune it samples, the song follows the storyline of a troubled gangster seeking loyalty in his lover. It’s a fun, universal track that could live in the R&B section of any DJ set.
Alongside these throwback tunes, ‘Noughty By Nature’ boasts some of Digga D’s best work. Opener ‘NBN’ deepens our connection with Herbert as he relays his backstory, detailing the sad passing of his grandmother and how he got the name “Shotty Shane”, the sombre tune acting as Digga’s explanation as to how the world “turned me to a demon”.
At times Digga’s flow can be a bit off, as he loses the beat momentarily – before catching it – for the sake of witty and boastful lines. But ‘Noughty By Nature’ steps in the same stride as his previous mixtape, 2021’s ‘Made In The Pyrex’, when it comes to versatility. Some features – sees his CGM crew mates’ presence on the raunchy ‘Secret’ – are predictable, but he also attempts to step out drill’s shadow by having AJ Tracey and soulful crooner Maverick Sabre sing over tracks. The former offers a whimsical, reflective closer to the mixtape: “You ain’t been where I’ve been / Whole room full of green…”.
Once upon a time, Digga D’s career was riddled with ifs and buts, yet he keeps growing musically, challenging what drill music can be. On ‘Noughty By Nature’, he confirms he’s a genre juggernaut, but in wearing his heart a little more on his sleeve, he’s also evolving right in front of us.
Release date: April 15
Record label: CGM/EGA