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Diggy's Second Unexpected Arrival

'Lighten Up' Album Review

Diggy’s debut album Unexpected Arrival came out about six years ago and had three singles that did fairly well on the charts and on 106 & Park (RIP). After the album was released, Diggy turned 18, which meant that his music took a drastic turn and included more cursing and more mature topics, shocking much of his young tween audience. The transition was expected, but it was a bit abrupt. Especially since Diggy all but disappeared soon after. He released a handful of songs and “freestyles” over the six years that clearly demonstrated that his artistry was improving, but there was nothing mainstream nor a full body of work.

The Lighten Up album was led by "It is What it Is" as the first single, a song about going with the flow despite hopes and expectations. The video contains a great deal of religious imagery, which echoes the chorus of the song and foreshadows the religious themes that follow in the album itself. The video also seems to relate to the cover of the album in it’s color scheme and tone.

The second single, "Anchors," seemed more lyrically complex and is a better listen than “It is What it is.”

Sonically, a lot of the album lacks the bass that is typical of current rap. I like this because it gives the album a different sound. Overall, the production is clean and unifies the sound of the album. His delivery adds to the pleasing tones of each track. Though the album lacks upbeat songs, Diggy’s subject matter and flow works well over the beats that Diggy has chosen.

The only feature on this album is Leven Kali. He has a nice voice that easily adds a bit of variety to tracks, but his presence isn’t overwhelming.

Overall, he seems to really relate to the subject matter on this album. Probably because of the life experience he’s gained in his 6-year absence. He talks about losing his faith, his issues with women, his relationship with his fans, and his relationship with music as a whole. On the track “Testimony,” he says that his music is his testimony, which really sums up the album. Diggy is speaking his truth in a format with which he is most comfortable.

Track-by-Track

"It Is What It Is"

This is a good track to lead the album with and a good first single as it establishes the vibe that the audience can expect. It also establishes Diggy as the positive type, which has not changed from his early music.

"Jesus Saves"

This is my favorite song on the album; the chorus is strong and works very well with the beat. He discusses his ties to his faith and his need to repair his relationship with God before he began to pursue music again. He also discusses the great amount of stress that was placed on him to do well, considering the reputation of his family as hip hop, fashion, television, and entertainment royalty.

"Goin"

Though this song isn’t necessarily fast paced, it is the only song on the album that can be considered a dance track. This is a song that I would listen to in the car because it has a nice vibe, but I wouldn’t listen to it for the lyrics. There are some metaphors that I could really do without: e.g. “her booty fluffy like the stuffing in a build a bear.” But there are also decent ones: e.g. “she travel with her bestie just to move the bud.” Though I really like this line, I like it less because he asks “get it?” and then repeats the line.

"Text Me"

This song is bit repetitive to me, mostly because of the chorus. Leven Kali’s vocals are the best part of the song as they break up the monotony of hearing just Diggy’s voice on most of the songs. The vocal effect at the end works well, though I honestly did not expect it to. This is the same vocal affect that is used on "Jesus Saves" and works to link the two songs together.

"Love Yourself"

This song seems to be an attempt at a women’s anthem, but it’s not really one like he thinks it is. Perhaps having a woman on the track (or the album in general) would work a bit better when speaking about the power of women.

"Anchors"

This song is when Diggy rides the beat the best and I think his bars are the best on this song. It seems like Diggy was working through a few internal issues and struggles on this album and this song is really where we see him winning that battle with himself.

"Momma Love"

This song seems to be Diggy’s attempt at a streamlined story, but I’m not quite sure what it is. It seems like he had a relationship that went wrong when the woman stated that she was pregnant and had a “fake abortion.”

"Testimony"

This track is the perfect track to wrap up the album; Diggy outright states that he is allowing his music to speak for him, which is fitting as this album seems to be more honest than his previous work.

I really enjoy Diggy’s discussion and exploration of different themes without coming off didactic or preachy. He is very transparent on this project about his personal struggles with mental illness and relationships; he truly uses his music as his testimony. But at times his discussion seems a bit disorganized. Having a song like “Jesus Saves” and “Goin” one after the other on the album confused me when I was trying to understand the album conceptually. Though the album works well sonically, when you consider the lyrics of each song, I think they work better as separate singles. I’m also not sure whether Diggy is more of a storyteller or a more lyrical rapper. Songs like “Text Me,” “Momma Love,” and “Testimony” have more of a story format, but songs like “Jesus Saves,” “It is What it Is,” and “Anchors” seem to focus on a central topic with more focus on the lyrics and wordplay.

Short and concise albums attempt to accomplish the artist's goals in a shorter amount of time, requiring more from the artist than a longer project (as paradoxical as it sounds). The general “lighten up” concept is enough to link the songs together, but only loosely. The album sounds like it’s missing something.

I enjoy this album much more than Unexpected Arrival and all of Diggy’s prior mixtapes. Any listener can glean the growth that Diggy has experienced in the six years since his first album was released. But I think that he has a long way to go in the form of lyrics, conceptualizing, and overall artistry. Hopefully his presence in music will continue so that his artistry can continue to flourish.

Favorite Track(s): "Jesus Saves"

Least Favorite Track(s): "Goin"

Overall Rating: 6/10

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