Review: Digga D, ‘Noughty By Nature’

The West London export returns to form on his third mixtape, a showcase of organic drill and indelible bars that justify the hype.

Amongst all the legal issues, Digga D has prevailed. Censorship and sentences have plagued his career since his breakthrough, but that hasn’t been enough to halt a drill domination. His debut 2019 mixtape was the highest-charting drill project at the time of release, while every single off his previous mixtape made the top 40. It shows that despite the troubles, he has a loyal audience on standby at all times. However, his full-length outputs have always left more to be desired. Noughty By Nature is his final mixtape before prepping his debut album.

Third time is the charm for Digga D. Noughty By Nature is his strongest work to date, churning natural hits out that finally represent his potential.

There’s no meticulous efforts to write a catchy hook, or blend drill with another genre – the moments just arrive organically. Production from R14 Beats, Aaronorage, Jake Gosling and more transport Digga D back to his prime, capturing the energy that first made him drill’s rising star. It leaves little room to question Digga D’s abilities, taking himself more serious than ever (“Anything you hear man rapping ’bout is all facts / Nothing’s fabricated,” he says on the opening track).

Three songs in a row sample 50 Cent classics. “Pump 101” interpolates G-Unit’s “Stunt 101” to give it the drill spin it deserves. “Hold It Down” channels 50’s and Nate Dogg’s “21 Questions”, showing that thug love is still alive and well. The most raw of the trio is “What You Reckon”, subtly channeling “Best Friend” to contrast the venom of the hook and verses (“Fuck my career for a second / Eighteen, I was on seven”). Each sample is effective, yet there is much more to these tracks besides that.

The best aspect of Noughty By Nature is its pull on the mainstream without conforming to bubblegum sounds. The aforementioned “Pump 101”, “What You Reckon” and “Attention” are already TikTok sensations, offering a slew of quotables and nonchalant hooks that vastly differ from the processed efforts of older songs. “Main Road” is another smash tune with two feet firmly in the drill lake. “Statement” is a lurking shot of horror-drill which doubles down on his intentions for the project (“I’m as hard as Stormzy and Dave, what a statement to make but I say what I say and I mean it”).

The final third opts for a mellow tone, beginning with “Addicted” that’s led by pop producer Jake Gosling’s piano production. Closing track “Let It Go” enlists Maverick Sabre for a soulful flip on drilling, while also serving as a double metaphor for pardoning street beef. It highlights maturity from the Grove rapper, and evolution in how to curate a cohesive body of work. Though close to a no-skip experience, Digga’s a step away from weeding out the blemishes in his tracklists (“Why”, “G Lock”).

Even through the censorship, Digga D’s bars are still vicious, a testament to his improvements as a writer and entertainer. Noughty By Nature keeps the spirit of drill alive; one of the nation’s more sturdy drill tapes in a minute.

7.5 / 10

Best tracks: “What You Reckon”, “Main Road”, “Pump 101”, “Load Up”, “Let It Go”

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