October 30, 2007:
Philadelphia native Digs Darklighter has released his highly anticipated full length debut album, Boomboxcutter, on the independent label illatropolis. The album title “Boomboxcutter” couldn’t describe this release any better. While every track ‘booms’, the lyrics literally slice through each track like a ‘boxcutter’. The title track produced by Stape Mega sets the pace for a vivid journey through the realms of pure futuristic boom bap. With the weather getting cold, “Hoodie Up”, and Stape’s infectous grooves, prepare you for what this album has in store. There is the alcohol fueled anthem “Double Malted” featuring Maylay Sparks that is definitely a certified headnodder. Underground legendary producer RJD2 shows up on the laid back track “Sick of the City”. Digs provides a graffiti anthem as he pays homage to that unappreciated art on “First Element”. Label mate and Executive Producer of the album, Uncle T, brings in a stripped down raw element with his lyrics and powerful cadence on “Starblaze” and “Sewer Top”. The album,15 tracks deep, includes the bonus Stape Mega Remix of Boomboxcutter. Stape Mega handles the bulk of the production. His previous production credits include Dept of Rec, Breezevahflowin, Briz, and MF Doom. The remaining short list of producers include Intell, formerly of Ruffhouse Records and producer of Digs’ exclusive vinyl “Sneaker Money” released in 1992, and Caliph-Now. The majority of the tracks are topped off with precise cuts and scratches from DJ Cru Cut placed strategically throughout the album. When all is said and done, it’s just Hip Hop at its finest…
Digs Darklighter – Bio
Live from Illatropolis (Philadelphia), Digs Darklighter is an Underground Hip Hop stalwart and a former graffiti artist who has rocked stages and bombed the system throughout the East Coast and beyond. Digs has been a staple in the Philadelphia Hip Hop scene as both a promoter and performer since 1994. He began writing rhymes while attending high school, pulling inspiration from various corridors of Hip Hop. From the the politically charged lyrics of Public Enemy, to the raw lyrics of "Philly's first Rap Super group", Tuff Crew, to the eclectic musings of De La Soul and the bizarre lyrical imagery of Ultramagnetic MC's. In 1993, he teamed up with other rappers from his neighborhood, and formed an abstract, native tongue inspired trio called The Dead Pigeons. They released their first single in 1994 entitled "Pots and Pans" b/w "Stegasaurus". The single brought them local notoriety and talks with some interested majors but nothing ever materialized.
Digs left the group soon after the release of "Pots and Pans" to pursue a career in Photography, his preferred art form. He began working two jobs to put him through school and enrolled at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. Inspired by the likes of Ricky Powell, Glen Friedman, Henry Chalfont and Martha Cooper, among others, Digs began taking photographs of all things, especially Hip-Hop. He canvassed Philadelphia end to end to document graffiti in the city and took advantage of every opportunity to take pictures of local, as well as national, MC's and DJ's. Digs produced album cover photos for underground Hip Hop artists such as Outerspace, Dept. of Rec., and Briz. He eventually dropped out of the Art Institute due to financial problems. Despite not receiving a degree in photography, Digs' photographs have been on display at numerous art galleries in Philadelphia. His work has been featured in publications such as Philadelphia Magazine, The Philadelphia City Paper, and the graffiti magazine On The Go. He continues to take photographs and is currently working on a diverse group of projects which include a portrait book titled 1997, Sky walkers (featuring photographs of sneakers hanging from power lines throughout Philadelphia), and a series featuring photos of local boxing.
Digs never gave up writing rhymes. After dropping out of school, he embarked on a solo MC career and began writing and recording material. With his friends, fellow Hip Hop artists Dept. of Rec. (Adam 12 & Stape Mega), formed a crew named Illatropolis. The crew began playing shows at various venues throughout the City and generated a local following. They eventually linked up with the upstart underground Hip Hop label Arrakis Records. Digs dropped his solo debut on Vinyl in 2002 with Arrakis. The disc, entitled "Sneaker Money" b/w "Spacewalking" featured performances from notable MC's Breez Evahflowin', Uncle T and Alaska of Hangar 18 fame. Distributed world wide, "Sneaker Money" brought Digs and the fledgling label notoriety. It received several positive reviews in the following worldwide distributed magazines, Urb, Elemental, and Rime. Later that year, Digs appeared on the Arrakis Records compilation "The Spice" as well as Boiling Point Distribution's "Boom Bap for Neanderthals" on a track produced by RJD2. Both compilations were well received and Digs' was specifically recognized by fans and critics alike. Digs and the Arrakis records crew toured up and down the East Coast and played at various venues and colleges. The Arrakis crew was generating momentum and appeared to be on the verge of big things. However, that momentum was soon halted and the label began to dissolve due to creative and financial conflicts between some of the artists and label management.
Digs and producer Stape Mega officially began working on his long awaited debut album, Boomboxcutter in 2005. The project is a grass roots independent project through and through. Digs recorded almost the entire album at Stape's home studio between 2005 and 2007. He adopted a "no rush" attitude when it came time to write and record the songs for his debut. Free from the restrictions that go along with paying someone to record you at a "real" studio, Digs went for quality over quantity. The result is that the full-Philadelphian's long awaited full length banger, Boomboxcutter, is ripe with vivid observational lyricism concocted from the grit and grime of everyday life in The City of Brotherly Love. He touches on topics ranging from current events and politics to getting wasted and rocking parties like back in the day all the while on walkabout through the city that supposedly loves you back. Set to a backdrop of knockin' East Coast style production from Stape Mega, RJD2, Caliph Now, & Intell. DJ Cru Cut comes through to bless almost every track with fierce cuts and scratches. Maylay Sparks and Illatropolis artist Uncle T headline the short list of featured MC’s.
Digs Darklighter is once again standing at the precipice of underground Hip Hop in Philly, the United States and world wide. He's ready to leap from the rock and free fall back into the fray in hopes of rising back to the top. He plans to take a picture at the summit.
Interview with Digs Darklighter by 215HipHop.com
By: Justin Rizzio
You’ve heard the story a million times. It goes like this - Local rapper makes a name for himself. Rapper puts out records and gets some good reviews in some nationally distributed publications. Rapper gets down with some other well know artists in his circle. Rapper’s music and visibility in the scene is increasing and on the rise. Rapper stops putting out records and his buzz dies away. Heard it all before, right? Well, this one has a different ending. The rapper in question is Philly’s Digs Darlighter. But, instead of falling into hip hop obscurity, Digs has been on his grind and is now ready to release his debut album, BoomBoxCutter. And the buzz is far from dead. Years in the making, BoomBoxCutter is yet another example of the talent Philadelphia can produce. Now, on the verge of his record’s release, Digs is ready to step back in the spotlight and pick up right where he left off. BoomBoxCutter Album Release Party is on Friday, October 19th 2007 at secret location; email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. To purchase album visit illatropolis.com
215hiphop: First, the name. Where does it come from?
Digs Darklighter: I had allot of stupid rap names before I started, we’re not going into that. There was a Star Wars dude named Bigs Darklighter. A little unknown character from the first movie, they mention his name once. My last name begins with d-I-g, so that’s kind of where it started. I’m a Star Wars geek. And there’s also some symbolism involved between the dark and the light, because I’m all about balance and math and shit like that.
215: Who is the only non Jedi in the original Star Wars trilogy to use a lightsaber?
Digs: Han Solo in Empire Strikes Back. He cut open that TON-TON to protect Luke from frigid temperature on the planet Hoth.
215: When the “Sneaker Money” 12″ dropped, it received several positive reviews in some well known publications. Why did it take so long to follow up with an album?
Digs: When I put that out, I kind of rushed it because of the label. And after it came out, because of the label, it left a bad taste in my mouth. Then after that I had my son. After that, the way I approached music was, I’m in no rush. What am I rushing for?
215: During the time of “Sneaker Money”, you were on Arrakis Records. They appeared to be gaining some momentum at that time. What happened?
Digs: I think it was Stape (formerly of Dept. of Rec.) to say he didn’t want to fuck with them anymore. That’s my brother right there, so I followed along. I think Uncle T was the next to follow. And Adam 12, he was with Stape at the time, so he followed him. After that, they didn’t have as much push or drive as when we were there. Adam and Stape were the first ones to join Arrakis. That’s when they started blowing up a little bit. Then I stepped in, and the shows were getting more crowded. Once we all stepped off, it kind of died down. There were still people doing shit, but it wasn’t the same. I don’t know what happened. It wasn’t even really a label, it was more like a dude with a credit card. We didn’t get along with that dude. I have nothing bad to say about him, but, we didn’t agree with what he was doing. I think he was doing it more to have his name out there and didn’t really care much for the artists. Once we all realized that, we were like fuck this. We could do the same shit he’s doing on our own.
215: In the past, you’ve collaborated with some well known artists such as Breeze Evahflowin (Stronghold) and Alaska (Hanger 18, Atoms Family). Do you have any guests on the new album?
Digs: Not too many. I have Uncle T, that’s my ace. I consider him like a brother. He even actually has a solo song and he’s the executive producer. Maylay Sparks is on a track. That was one person I was glad to collaborate with. That’s someone from Philly who’ music I like and I bought, and that’s pretty rare for me. On production, Stape is pretty much the majority of it. I have Caliph Now (420, Viro the Virus) on it. The guy Intell, who did “Sneaker Money”, has 2 or 3 tracks on it. I have a posse cut with people I’m good friends with. I got illit, Burke, Rellik, and then Uncle T on that as well. It’s not overloaded with features. There’s a couple. Also, the album’s pretty DJ heavy. DJ Cru Cut has cuts on almost every other song. DJ Akshun has cuts. It’s not too feature heavy, but it’s just enough. Its people I’m really cool with. If I wouldn’t be friends with you in the real world, then I don’t want to do no rap shit with you.
215: Back when you did those collaborations, with Breeze and Alaska, you were all pretty much unknowns. They have gone on to be very well known in the “underground”. Do you ever regret holding back with the music, like maybe you would be where they are now as well?
Digs: Not really. When I met them, they were a little ahead of me. I met allot of people. I was always the opener for when those types of acts would come to town. I meshed well with them and I’m still friends with them. I could talk about shit with them that has nothing to do with rap music. I’m happy for them. I don’t care that I could’ve done this or that. I’m still doing what I’m doing, so that makes me happy.
215: Besides music, you’re also well known for graffiti. Give me 3 words that would describe Philly’s graf scene?
Digs: Hand styles, aggression, and unique.
215: You have a son. In 10 years from now, he starts writing graffiti and getting into trouble over it. What do you tell him?
Digs: Don’t get caught and do it right. Don’t write on personal property and I know it’s going to sound cliché, but BOMB THE SYSTEM ! But, by then, the world will be on some Judge Dredd shit and in that movie the walls sprayed back.
215: You’re known for your photography as well. In order of importance, list music, graffiti, and photography.
Digs: It’ll sound fucked up, but, I’ll say photography, graffiti, and music. I think they all mesh well with the way I am. I feel like I’m an observationalist, if that’s even a word (it is). If you think about it, in photography, you observe and then capture what you observe. Then you present it like this is what I see, what do you see? Graffiti is kind of the same thing, where you write on something, and they observe it. That’s how I want my music to be. I see things, I write about them, and now you get to hear what I’ve seen and heard. I guess that’s how they all mesh together.
215: The album is called BoomBoxCutter. What is your goal for this record?
Digs: Pretty much just that people like it. My personal goal was to just get it out, so I’m glad that happened. After that, I leave it in the listener’s hands. If people like, they like it. If they don’t, they don’t. I know its dope. I’m sure other people will think its dope. Everything happens for a reason. So if it’s dope, good things will happen. If people don’t like it, nothing will happen.
215: You’ve covered a wide variety of topics from “Sneaker Money” to BoomBoxCutter. Of all the topics you’ve covered, what would you rather have an unlimited supply of, sneakers or beer?
Digs: Well by the looks of me, specifically my stomach, I’ve already had my fair share of beer. So I’d have to go with sneakers even though today’s sneakers are so wack and gaudy.
Interview with Digs Darklighter by UGRap.de (Germany)
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.
UGR: Digs, could you please drop some words about yourself first?
Digs: 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.
UGR: 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?
Digs: 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.
UGR: 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…
Digs: 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....
UGR: You just mentioned your new album, what can you tell us about it?
Digs: 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.
UGR: So being a young father, did that have any influences on the album? Did it change your perspective on certain things in life?
Digs: 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.
UGR: 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?
Digs: 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.
UGR: So what did you do besides rapping those years? I noticed you are taking pretty good photos…
Digs: 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.
UGR: That reminds me of visiting a soccer game in Germany with some friends, just having a good time. Do you play football?
Digs: 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.
UGR: 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?
Digs: 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".
UGR: What’s up with Arrakis Records? Does this label still exist?
Digs: 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.
UGR: You just mentioned Stape and Uncle T, will they be on your album “Boomboxcutter”?
Digs: 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.
UGR: I heard RJD2 produced a track for the album? How did you connect with him?
Digs: That was all Uncle T. He connected with him during RJ's MHZ days and purchased some tracks off of him.
UGR: So when and where will the album be available?
Digs: Release date is looking like the end of September. It will be available online and locally here in Philly, out the trunk.
UGR: And what’s next for you after putting out the album?
Digs: 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.
UGR: Chilling is always a good idea... Any last words to your fans?
Digs: Listen to good music, buy dope music, download shit your unsure shit about. Peace to Germany!