Diggy Simmons – or Diggy, as he’s mostly known – might only be 17, but his experience around the music business belies his young age.
A son of Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons, a founder of Run-D.M.C., Diggy has carved his own successful career, appealing to teens with a combination of a smooth style, killer smile and groove-heavy R&B.
The singer, who lives in New Jersey with his family, released his first studio album, “Unexpected Arrival,” in March, and is headlining the “Scream Tour: Next Generation Pt. 2,” which comes to the Fox Theatre Sunday.
Earlier this week, Diggy checked in from New York – the tour only plays weekends given the school age of its primary audience – to talk about his new album, who he admires and hanging out with the OMG Girlz.
Q. So this is your second “Scream” tour, but first as a headliner. What are the main differences for people who might have seen you before?
A. The set is longer and I had to do a whole lot more prep for the tour. We put a lot more into it as far as having a message in the show, there’s a concept to it, and then entertainment of course.
Q. What kind of message are you trying to share?
A. I have a song called ‘Glow in the Dark.’ We do it toward the beginning of the show and it’s about how if you feel your dreams are in the dark, you can bring them into the light. I make everybody put glowsticks and cell phones in the air.
Q. Can you hear yourself on stage over the screaming girls?
A. [laughs] I think it’s worse when you’re in the crowd.
Q. Do you hang out with Mindless Behavior and the OMG Girlz since you had tours with them?
A. Yeah, definitely. This tour, we’ve been scattered around in hotels so it’s been hard. But [this] weekend I want to chill with them, they’re good friends of mine and they live in Atlanta. I’m really excited for [the Atlanta] show. It’s one of my favorite cities — the energy, all the love and fans I have out there. I love the combination of everything there.
Q. Earlier this year you released your first official studio album [‘Unexpected Arrival’]. How did working on it differ from the three mixtapes you’ve had out?
A.I had a lot more resources. I got to work with names, people I always wanted to work with. There was a lot more I could do with the help of the label, that’s why I wanted to sign with a label that let me have my creative freedom, but also take me in a direction I couldn’t do if I was on my own. With a mixtape, sometimes you can cross over but not always. I wanted to give fans something greater than a mixtape.
Q. You were surrounded by aspects of the entertainment industry growing up, so when did you know you wanted to be a performer?
A. I always loved performing, period, and being in front of people. I used to do school plays and always just loved being on stage and entertaining people — it’s inside of me. I get satisfaction out of making people have an incredible time.
Q. Who do you look to as examples of great performers?
A. I always love what Kanye [West] does – he’s an incredible performer. The majority of fans are young, so I love inspiring people. It goes beyond taking off my shirt or something. That’s not the most important thing to me. Even though [fans] like me or enjoy my looks or whatever, it’s more important that they leave inspired.
Q. How does your dad feel about you going into the business?
A. I just got into it on my own. It was really just me taking it into my own hands. He never wanted to stop us from anything we wanted to do. If we wanted to be a dumpster truck driver, he’d encourage it. But I didn’t want his help, I wanted my talent to speak for itself and show people who I am as an artist.
Q. You’ve done a song with Bruno Mars, so who else do you want to work with?
A. People that inspire me, like Jay-Z, Kanye, Eminiem and Nas.
Q. Do you still have your clothing/shoe line?
A. No, I don’t. Not as of right now. We discontinued it because it didn’t feel like where I wanted to go. Fashion is a big part of me, and I don’t want anything to be forced, whether it’s music or fashion.
The Scream Tour: Next Generation Pt. 2 features Diggy, OMG Girlz and Jawan Harris. 6 p.m. Sept. 22 at Fox Theatre. Tickets are $26.50-$36.50.