Back To Square One. Such is titled Digga D's fourth album, a release he presents as a mixtape. It is misleading, though, as it doesn't actually go back to basics. Quite the opposite. The boy who, at seventeen and beyond, became a figurehead for UK drill through a series of top-charting singles, is moving away from this style. On that project - his first for his own Black Money label - one song only sounds like his music of choice. And it is called - guess what? - "Fuck Drill".

DIGGA D - Back To Square One

The roots Digga D pretends to unearth are, in reality, those of rap music, a genre much wider and more heterogeneous than the repetitive UK drill formulas. He indeed goes back to its basics - US hip-hop - when he reinvents the Luniz "I Got 5 On It" hit single on "Bine On Em", when he mentions Nicki Minaj on "Façade", when he uses the melodic and catchy loop of "Soft Life", or when he deploys "DTF", a banger that mixes the sound of No Limit Records with UK drill. He targets a larger audience, as evidenced when he uses the sugary sounds of R&B, or when he sings his hooks.

Digga D delivers rap music, not drill music. Nonetheless, he remains a Brit. Tracks such as "Braids" are close to trapwave, the local take on Auto-Tuned depressive trap music, whose pioneer, M Huncho, is one of the guests on the mixtape, and supports one of its best songs, "Baby Mum's Crib".

Back To Square One goes back to rap. But it is also, for Digga D, a return to Powis Square, in West London. On melancholic guitars, the rapper talks about his life in the streets on the outstanding "I'm From...", and on "Me & Kinz". He reminisces about raising hell with a friend, who is deceased now. The risks of gang life are treated in "Cherish God More", a track he named after his crew (CMG), and where he talks about other dead ones and personal pains.

Digga D talks about a past that doesn't pass, his own. As soon as with the first track, "Fighting For My Soul", he confesses suicidal tendencies. Sounding like a beaten dog, he confides about religion, fame, prison, drugs, violence, and freedom of speech. And on the last one, “West To North West”, he questions how his lyrics impact the youth. He is bitter toward the music industry on the strong "Kindness For Weakness" song. And even in his angriest moments, there's a bit of vulnerability, like with the "Energy" single.

Digga D managed to evolve. He passes the exam, with this fourth mixtape. He addresses with success a risky challenge: the intimate record, the "maturity album", that awful cliché. In Great Britain, Digga D was already a star. And now, he proves that he can be much more than a formulaic rapper.

Buy this mixtape