Diggs served nine years in the Navy and lived to rap about it — and the racial tensions he found when he returned home to La Mesa.
  • Diggs served nine years in the Navy and lived to rap about it — and the racial tensions he found when he returned home to La Mesa.
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La Mesa–based MC Riston Diggs (the Known Unknowns) recorded his debut album, The Blvd Experience, following the completion of a nine-year Navy career where he served as an aviation administrator. I asked him about the title track, which addresses his views regarding local racial (and racist) issues.

“Cuz every nigga’s a victim, u get it/ I ain’t saying I’m racist/ but I’m no longer patient/ waiting with my hand out in this white man’s world/ screaming I can’t breathe with my hands up.”

Video:

"Post Traumatic Stress Disorder" by Riston Diggs

...and featuring Sly Beats

...and featuring Sly Beats

Is he concerned about potentially alienating white audiences? “Historically, intelligent white people have come to understand the struggle of the black race in America,” he says. “I was just expressing the climate of racial tension going on in our nation at the moment, with the storied police brutality, and also saying I refuse to be victimized by the idea of racism or be a wicked person.

“The police have harassed me. I had an incident where a neighbor called the cops because they heard my daughters yelling and thought I had done something to them. But they were only playing and, being girls, screaming. Next thing you know, I get a call from a number that I don’t know, I pick up, and someone I don’t know is telling me to come out. I thought it was a friend of mine playing with me, so I walk out, and a red dot was on my head. All I saw were a lot of police and I heard a voice giving further instructions. It was the SWAT team: they had me face down on the wet ground and then searched my house with dogs, all while my daughters were in the apartment crying.”

No arrest was made. “It was kind of embarrassing. I believe a simple knock on the door for a noise complaint would’ve fixed that issue.”

The same song also has the lyric, “They steady faking hating acting like they be in the field/ when it’s wartime we’ll see who’s keeping it real.”

He downplays the incendiary tone. “Wartime is any time a challenge from the enemy presents itself, in any shape, form, or fashion. That last line was for people that I knew and I thought were supposed to be my friend.... I just used the military concept to express that, because friendships should be like a platoon in the Marines, strong as shit.”

Diggs’s video for “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” featuring producer/singer Sly Beats, has over 68,000 views.

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