Diggin' Traum - Traum Diggs Interview
Traum Diggs has many names.
Theres Rapper Traum MD, Doc Traum, O’Trauma Been Rhymin’, Traum da Napalm Emcee, Diggsmatic, and my personal favorite, Traum Digger Phelps -- because he “coaches these players.”
Fortunately there is more to Traum Diggs than a series hilariously arrogant monikers. For one thing, he can actually rap. That helps. His recent mixtape, Throwback Series Vol. 2 is a quality listen filled with classic beats and capable rhymes (DOWNLOAD HERE) and his live show is refreshingly diverse. Not to mention that heads nationwide directly relate to his remix for our First Lady.
The hilariously arrogant monikers are just a bonus.
The-Quotable caught up with the Flatbush born, Philly based lyricist following his live show at Manhattan’s Uncle Mike’s. Read on and find out about Major Journalism, feeling like Marvin Gaye, and how his Facebook page will become the artists‘ industry model. Microphone check...check...check...check...
TCM: The-Quotable.com here with Traum Diggs. How you doing, fam?
Diggs: Can’t complain, homie. Can’t complain. Stepped off stage a little bit horse, but you know, all in a days work.
TCM: True that. I hear you. Its a different situation when you’re doing a live show versus stepping out of the studio. Especially when you’re rocking with a live band. You really have to project.
Diggs: I feel at home, though. I feel most at home. This is my element.
TCM: Do you feel more comfortable rocking with a band or with a DJ?
Diggs: I like the band. I like to be able to look to my left and right and see people there, you know what I mean? It makes me feel like Marvin Gaye or something.
TCM: Well, I definitely appreciated your tribute to Teddy Pendergrass.
Diggs: Absolutely. I wish I could’ve done more, but they didn’t know what I was talking about, you know what I mean? [Laughs]
TCM: Not at Uncle Mike’s on a Thursday night...
Diggs: And it was so quick. I’d already rehearsed with the band, and I didn’t want to throw in more stuff. I didn’t want to confuse them. I already got ‘em with the Michael Jackson joint. But I’m going to have something for TP, next show. I promise that.
TCM: “Mike Jackin‘ 4 Beats” sounds cool, man. Its cleaver. Even the wordplay in the title is clever. But you have a line in there: “I’ll probably catch a deal and catch amnesia.” What does that line mean to you?
Diggs: A lot of dudes do, you know what I’m saying? A lot of dudes do. You coming through the ranks with cats -- whether its Hip Hop or anything else, man -- you come through the ranks with a cat, he gets the promotion and the next thing you know he don’t know you no more. And he got that off your back! So, it happens man. We keep it moving. We keep hustling like we don’t even see you.
TCM: So is that your disclaimer?
Diggs: I mean, nah! I try to be as authentic as possible. I promise you, ten years from now, five years from now, platinum album or no platinum album, whatever have you; same interview man. You can still catch me right off the street.
TCM: I do want to tell you that I appreciated the Throwback EP Vol. 2. You flipped a lot of dope tracks in different ways. You flipped “Mighty Healthy” lovely. You had to come hard. Thats a hard beat.
Diggs: Thats one of my favorites.
TCM: So when you’re going in and putting your name on classic beats, whats your approach?
Diggs: Two approaches: 1 approach is, I always go into it...I listen to a lot of music. I’m like really into music. And my thing is, can I do it any justice? If the original person who recorded it can’t hear it and go ‘Okay, yeah he did his thing’, then I’m not going to touch it. I’ve gotta do it justice because I have that much respect for the art. I have that much respect for the cats that paved way for me to do what I do. So thats the 1 thing. And the 2 thing is ‘how can I put my stamp on it’? Even if I manipulate the flow or even if I mess with what the original person did flow wise, I still have to put my stamp on it. Whether its lyrically or something like that, thats always my goal. How can I make whatever I do, Traum, you know what I’m saying?
TCM: Well you did that on “Best of Both Girls.” After hearing your remix [of “Best of Both Worlds”] it seems pretty obvious, but I hadn’t heard that flip. I hadn’t heard anyone else approach that song that way. That was dope.
Diggs: Thanks, man. Thats love. Thats love. It comes from a lot of [Cognac] and inspiration. [Laughs]
TCM: The best kind of inspiration. I wish those were true stories. Were those true stories?
Diggs: You know what...I’m going to say no. [Laughs]
TCM: We’re in mixed company right now, so we’ll keep that a no...
Diggs: I was inspired by a lot of different situations. And to be totally honest with you, there are pieces exaggerated to protect the innocent. Because if I went in, I’d be in trouble...[Laughs].
TCM: So you make a couple references to the Major Journalism EP. I’m new to your catalog. Is that out yet or when is that dropping?
Diggs: No, thats coming this year. As soon as they want it. As soon as they want it. I’m putting the finishing touches on it. I feel like I get better everyday so it might not even be what -- by the time its ready -- might not be what I’ve recorded already. But when they’re ready for it, I’ll give it to them. I’m not forcing any music down anybody’s throat, man. Cats are starting to ask me when my projects coming, so thats a good feeling. I’m going to build off that momentum and when I think they’re really ready to receive it, its a go. I’m putting it out myself so I don’t care, you know what I mean? [Laughs]
TCM: But at the same time that is a complex situation when you are putting your project out yourself, because you want it to be ready for public consumption and not have the same base level criticism most mixtapes receive.
TCM: Now you’re coming out of Flatbush but do a lot of shows in Philly. Whats the biggest difference you see in the Hip Hop scene between New York and Philly?
Diggs: You know what, Philly and New York are pretty similar. Tough crowds. Tough crowds all day. I mean, its East Coast, man. We’re our own worst critics. Whats funny is coming from New York, I feel like I get love like the New Yorkers get love in Philly, more so than the Philly. I’ve been in Philly so long they don’t even look at me like a New Yorker. They look at me like one of their own, you know what I’m saying? But I’m not. Its funny. Then up here, you know its Hater Capital of the world so you know...
TCM: Yall have a lot of jam sessions down there in Philly, though.
Diggs: Yeah. Its a better vibe. When you get into a live music situation, you’re playing with musicians. Musicians have a different approach to things. They’re more chill. They’re more about the music. They’re more about the vibe. So we can go get a set anywhere and just rock out. Like tonight, some of the guys who came off [stage], they hung around and checked out the sets. In an Emcee world, in the rap world thats done. As soon as they’re done they’re out. They don’t want to see you. They don’t care about you. So, with the live stuff there is a lot more camaraderie. With the Hip Hop stuff, you know, its a contact sport.
TCM: You find yourself rocking to more diverse crowds with a live band.
Diggs: Yeah. And I’m all for that.
TCM: That seems to be the direction that Hip Hop is going in general.
Diggs: Yeah, and I’m glad I’m in front of it. Thats definitely where its going. Thats what I saw. You know, its the same thing. Everybody is trying to get a dime as quickly as possible in the rap game. Everybody wants money. I wanna pay bills too. I like nice stuff too. But when thats your focus, to squeeze every dollar out of every situation, somethings going to give. You’re going to lose something. Thats whats pretty much happening with the game right now. Thats how I feel.
TCM: Its the safe route because people are afraid to take chances.
Diggs: Exactly. Nobody wanna break molds. Nobody wants to stand out. Because, what happens to the first person to stick his neck out? He makes it available for everybody else.
TCM: First Andre 3000 was singing, now everybody else wants to sing.
Diggs: Exactly. Exactly. Its crazy. But the game needs more trend setters. The game needs more originality. The game needs more integrity. I’m trying to bring all of the above.
TCM: You make a lot of sports references in your rhymes.
Diggs: I’m a sports dude, man.
TCM: Who do you like for the Super Bowl?
Diggs: Ooh...I want to pull for the Jets, you know what I mean. Thats biased, though.
TCM: Thats a heart felt plea there.
Diggs: I’ma tell you what -- the winner of Vikings/Cowboys is representing the NFC. And, I don’t know man...
TCM: You gotta like Indianapolis. You gotta say it...
Diggs: Indianapolis is tough. The Colts is tough. I’ll go on a limb and say Brett Farve/Colts, man. Hopefully Colts win. I hate Brett Farve.
TCM: Last question, what do you want Quotable Nation to know about you? Whats next for Traum Diggs? What should they look out for?
Diggs: First of all, get up on all of the social networking sites, whatever have you. The Facebook page, we’re about to do something real crazy with The Facebook page. Its going to be like no other. My Facebook fan page is www.facebook.com/traumdiggs. We’re going to have real interaction. Folks will be able to remix songs of mine. Its going to be crazy. I’m going to make the model Facebook fan page that every other artist is going to copy. I guarantee it.
TCM: Are you’re going to give us more detail on that? Or are you going to hold it close to the chest?
Diggs: Check me in like a month. Check it in like a month. February, check the Facebook page. Keep in tuned -- www.623ent.com. Look out for Major Journalism. Look out for a few other side projects that I have popping that I don’t want to throw into the air yet. But Major Journalism is coming soon. www.623ent.com is the link to everything you need to know about me, man. Or you know, like they say, Google me. [Laughs]
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