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Rapper, Poet and Podcaster. Jah Digga Is A Major Player In the Nottingham Creative Scene

12 June 22 interview: Elliot Farnsworth
photos: Curtis Powell

Few Notts artists have made the sort of impact Jah Digga has over the past decade. The rapper, spoken word performer and podcaster is involved with countless creative projects, from working with schools and youth groups to help combat knife crime to recording the No Blacks, No Irish podcast with co-host Derry Shillitto, he’s just about seen and done it all. We caught up with him fresh off the back of Poetz off the Endz, an evening he curated and hosted as part of Nottingham Poetry Festival, to talk about the importance of sharing a positive message, overcoming fear and what his own priorities are moving forward…

Over the years, you’ve built a strong platform locally and further afield. How important is it to utilise that?
It’s really important because we have to give an alternative option. Negative narratives are being endorsed, and not just by people, but by the industry, too. We have to build from the ground up, making enough noise for people to listen. Even larger platforms like Radio 1 - we want them to play this kind of positivity. We’ve all got kids, or nieces and nephews. We have to fly the flag. 

In terms of the narrative you mention, what message are you wanting to share?
Be yourself. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, even if it’s not cool to the masses. Be 100% you, because nobody else can do that. That’s the message.

Tonight’s performers at Poetz off the Endz frequently touched on issues with social media. How do you make sure your message is heard above others?
By doing. At one time, I was a heavy procrastinator, but that’s not going to get us anywhere. Action speaks louder than words. Ideas are great, but if you’re not putting it into action…

Forget the platform. As artists, we’re all responsible, because we’re projecting. And the kids out there are listening

The theme of this month’s mag is fear. How has that, or similar emotions, played a part in getting you here today?
Fear is the main reason for procrastination. I had a big fear of failing. Would people understand my story? Would people understand my truth? Are they going to get me? For me, fear is an illusion. We play mind-tricks on ourselves; we create things that aren’t even there. But if you can separate from that, it all evaporates. 

I’d like to talk more specifically about your own direction. What are your priorities moving forward?
I’ve got an EP coming that’s a mix-and-match between poetry and music. I’ve got a documentary on the way which is about my upbringing. Then there’s a short film we’ve done on tackling knife crime and adversity. Also, I want to continue putting on events, going into schools, doing workshops. I’m interested in these sorts of visual skits, like theatre plays but filmed, not live, short in length, with all the skits linked as a story. Trust me, I’ve got big ideas, it’s going to be sick. 

I look for people who aren’t afraid to speak their truth, no matter their background or journey

From hearing your work with Derry Shillito on the No Blacks, No Irish podcast, the flow and chemistry between you two is easy to sense. On collaboration more generally, what is it you look for in someone to work with?
Shoutout to Derry. I look for people who aren’t afraid to speak their truth, no matter their background or journey. As long as it’s your truth, and I can see the passion, I’m like, “Yo, you’re sick!” That’s how I found these lot [tonight’s performers], they’re fire! Seeing them, it touched and resonated with me. It’s really easy to be negative; I could talk about a bunch of shit that I’ve been through, but it’s not going to inspire or empower anyone. I don’t want to be responsible for someone’s kid holding a gun because he heard me. 

Do you feel certain responsibilities with your platform?
Forget the platform. As artists, we’re all responsible, because we’re projecting. And the kids out there are listening. You get what I’m saying? We’re all influencing, we’re all influencers. So, we have to take on that responsibility.


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