He was the oldest son of Emperor Di Ku 帝嚳 (his mother was Lady Zouzi 諏訾氏) and succeeded him to the throne. His half-brother Fangxun 放勳 (i.e. Emperor Yao 堯) was enfeoffed as Marquis of Tang 唐侯. Di Zhi created state offices whose designations had the names of birds (Fengniao 風鳥氏, Xuanniao 玄鳥氏, Bozhao 伯趙氏, Qingniao 青鳥氏, Danniao 丹鳥氏, Zhuniao 祝鳥氏, Jujiu 鴡鳩氏, Shijiu 鳲鳩氏, Shuangjiu 爽鳩氏, Gujiu 鶻鳩氏, Wuzhi 五雉 or Jiuhu 九扈). The most important ministers were that of works (gongzheng 工正) and that of agriculture (nongzheng 農正).
Di Zhi ruled for just nine years before he became aware that he was a less virtuous ruler than Fang Xun. He therefore decided to cease the throne to his brother. Other sources say that Di Zhi died after a short rule.
Di Zhi is also identified as the same person like Emperor Shao Hao 少皞 (also written 少昊), called Lord Jintian 金天氏. Shao Hao succeeded Emperor Tai Hao 太皞 (太昊), identified with Fu Xi 伏羲, who resided in Yan 奄 (modern Qufu 曲阜, Shandong). Shao Hao is said to have ruled for 84 years. His descendants lived in the small fief of Tan 郯 during the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE). Shao Hao ruled over the west and is also called the White Emperor (Bai Di 白帝).