In the same tradition as classic no-nonsense Brooklyn emcees such as Sean Price, Big Daddy Kane and Jay-Z, comes East Flatbush native, Traum Diggs. The son of Caribbean immigrants, Diggs wrote his first rhyme at the age of ten and has dedicated his life to hip-hop ever since. “I don’t want to be in a time warp but I do want people to say ‘he was one of those dudes who reminded us of the dudes that paved the way as far as lyricism and real hip-hop,’” says Diggs.
Diggs’ straight forward, crystal clear delivery is a throwback to when hip-hop was more authentic but is still relevant to today’s landscape. When you listen to a Traum Diggs song you get humor, pain, social commentary and real raw lyricism all wrapped up in one package. “I’m an autobiographical emcee,” says Diggs. “My raps are my life.”
Though he wanted to be a rapper since he was a kid, Diggs heeded his mom’s advice and left Brooklyn to go to college at Temple University in Philadelphia. The then 17-year-old vowed to finish school in four years so he could get back to the rap and he did just that graduating with a BA in journalism.
During his time at Temple, Diggs honed his skills on the mic in legendary sessions with some of the best emcees in the city. He also formed the group H.M.P. with two old friends from Brooklyn and some new affiliates from school. H.M.P. released the EP, Dead End Kids in 2000. Shortly after the release, the group disbanded and Diggs joined with a former group member, ASAV, to form the Traum 'N ASAV Show. The duo released two mixtapes, Opening Credits (2004) and The Throwback Series: Episode One (2006) which was hosted by NY mixtape staple, Bedtyme 357. The Throwback Series garnered critical acclaim in the US and overseas and was the launching pad for Traum Diggs' new company, 623 Entertainment.
Capitalizing on the success of The Throwback Series, Traum Diggs released a collection of previously recorded solo material titled The Essential Traum Diggs in the summer of 2008. The Essential quickly led to the kickoff of The Mission Tour.
2009 was quite a year for Traum Diggs and 623 Entertainment. While successfully headlining Mission Tour dates from NY to DC, he also had the pleasure of sharing the stage with industry vets such as Talib Kweli, DJ Premier, Styles P, and Pharoahe Monch. Diggs also released a follow up installment of The Throwback Series (Episode 2) which features classic remakes of songs by KRS-One, Rakim, and Jay-Z and an incredible dedication to the late, great, Michael Jackson titled, "Mike Jackin' 4 Beats."
2010 has also been a landmark year so far for Traum Diggs, from playing live with his hip hop band, Bullyfoot Massive, to going on a 13-week grooming strike. Unfortunately for his barber, Diggs spent nearly three months forgoing a haircut or shave while he attempted to finish his debut EP, Major Journalism. The EP, which was scheduled for a fourth quarter release, features all live instrumentation (totally sample-free) and will see the light of day in early 2011. He also contributed the lead single, "On My Way 2 the Store" featuring Tex1 and Khaliba from the duo’s album, The Day The Job Market Crumbled. The single and album (which Traum Diggs is heavily featured on) are available for download via iTunes and Amazon.
Though Diggs stopped the strike before finishing the EP he had good reason. That reason came in the form of the recently released mixtape titled, For Colored Girls (& White Chicks Too). The DJ Tunes assisted tape is his first conceptual project and was inspired by Ntozake Shange’s play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf and Nina Simone’s classic song “Four Women.” On the 19-track opus, Diggs gives his take on women and relationships through the stories of four different individuals.
Traum’s body of work shows that he is one of the most versatile and real emcees doing it today. The beauty of it is that he is doing it for the love and not the typical rapper trappings. “I want my legacy to be that ‘he really gave us his life’ because it’s relatable and also to hopefully inspire someone that feels like there is no outlet for them in this current state of hip-hop.”
How do you describe your music to people?
I call it "Eric Clapton Rappin'"! It's real stories and pure, authentic emotion delivered over a hip-hop backdrop. As far as my lyrics...the actual words...there's no difference between me and any other great story teller other than my voice, delivery and the music behind me.
Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
I started at age 6-7 mimicking my older brother and Run-DMC. At age 10 I wrote my first rhyme and I haven't looked back since.
What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Perform on stage with my band. It never gets old!
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
Wearing multiple hats and knowing when to wear which hat (ha ha). The differences between what I want to do as an artist and what makes sense (or cents) as a business owner often cause conflict. (Example) A venue in LA wants me to come out and perform but they're not paying for travel. I really want to do the show but the CEO in me does the numbers (flight, hotel, meals, etc.) and questions if it's worth the trouble...dilemma!
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
Exactly what I am! Just a whole lot sooner!
In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
My community is a major contributor to my development as a musician. I grew up in East Flatbush, Brooklyn where there is a heavy concentration of Caribbean immigrants. The music, the values and the culture is the primary influence in my sound and growing up in the "Brooklyn" of the late eighties and early nineties exposed me to many of the things I now write about in my music.
What other artists out there do you love?
(In no particular order) Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Teddy Pendergrass, Rakim, KRS-ONE, Kool G Rap, Nas, Big Daddy Kane, Mobb Deep, Wu Tang Clan, EPMD, Kanye West, Mos Def, Bob Marley, Buju Banton, Beres Hammond, Sanchez, I could go on and on!
What does your future hold?
A world tour and global respect as an artist and performer. A loving and devoted wife and a couple kids...house in Barbados, flat in Europe, brownstone in Brooklyn Heights.