Trailblazing his own path, Sonny Digital is one of youngest producers making tsunami waves.
Sonny Digital is a Rapper-DJ turned producer. The 27-year-old was born in Saginaw, Michigan and grew up in one of the meccas of Hip-Hop, Atlanta, Georgia. As a child Digital always loved music. He began rapping while in school and was inspired to produce by his cousin after not being able to find beats to his liking. Sonny looked to Drumma Boy and Shawty Redd as inspiration; two well known Hip-Hop producers. At the age of 16, Digital joined a rap group strictly as a producer. Over the years he began producing mixtapes for local rappers; working towards his big break.
Digital rose to fame in 2011 after producing the monstrous hit “Racks.” The song featured today’s biggest rapper, Future, and another Georgia native, YC. Peaking at #6 on the U.S. Rap charts and #8 on the U.S. R&B charts. After the success of Racks, Digital’s career was amplified. With his dynamic and futuristic beats now popular in the rap world, it was only a matter of time before he joined forces with other rap royalty and hashed out more hits with Future. Churning out bangers like Same Damn Time, Blow a Bag, I Don’t Sell Molly No More, Tuesday and more.
Sonny Digital has also produced for Beyonce, Meek Mill, Nicki Minaj, Lil Uzi Vert, Gucci Mane, Migos, Young Thug, and Key!. One of Digital’s biggest hits to date is Birthday Song, made popular by Kanye West and 2 Chainz. While the song was a smash hit, many did not know the young producer laid the foundation for the tune we hear today. He recounts the tale of working with Kanye in “First Call,” a track where he holds no punches. Digital details the industry flip that happens a lot to upcoming rappers, producers, and singers alike. He also talks about breaking his hard-drive and having to start from scratch after the success of “Racks.”
His hypnotic beats aren’t the only conversation piece provided by Sonny Digital. He’s been very vocal in encouraging all producers to speak up on not receiving credit. Amid fighting for his own recognition, Digital made sure to use his platform to shed light on industry practices. He took to Instagram to share his thoughts on producers not winning Grammys or MTV awards and so on for their efforts. In an interview with The Fader he explained that he wanted to start a union for producers. Giving them the backing and support that is lacking. A lack of support that has led many beat crafters to stay silent.
Since his immense success Digital has returned to his roots of being a rapper and producing his own music. He’s linked up with Que, Black Boe of Travis Porter, and other artists. The interesting part about a lot of his music is, artists gravitate to Sonny’s original sound and remix it. This is the story behind “I’m The Man,” the hit of producer’s past, and Birthday Song. Both tracks originally featured Digital.
The chart topping artist took time out of his schedule to answer a few questions.
You’ve been instrumental in breaking new artists and producers, Ex: Key!, 21 Savage, and MetroBoomin. How do you cultivate sounds and build relationships with upcoming artists?
The “Just do what you do, nobody can do what you do better than you can do it. I wasn’t looking that’s just how it happend”
Aside from music Digital has another job he takes pride in, being a dad.
How has your experience been, being a father?
You can almost hear the smile on his face as he shares: “It’s lit, I recommend it, I like fatherhood I want some more kids.” He’s got the entire thing down packed. He tells us how much enjoys it and it’s not that hard.
What does it take for an artist to be noticed by Sonny Digital?
“I just gotta like you, everybody’s different, What I personally like, If I like it I go into it. I can always find something that I like in any field.” Boasts the multi-talented artist.
Have you given any real thought to creating a producer’s union and who would you enlist to be on the front lines?
Always true to himself he says: “None of the people y’all probably think, nobody real enough to be on the front lines except for me…I’m working on it.”
Which do you enjoy doing more, rapping or producing?
“I don’t like that people separate it, It’s the same thing. It’s all making music.”
Which artists do you want to work with that you haven’t?
“Nobody y’all know. I’m not all into the hype, y’all probably wouldn’t even know them.” Taking the road less traveled seems to be the way Digital prefers to do things.
We had to get in on the SRGOW (Sonny Rollin Grams of Wax).
Who would you smoke with if given a chance?
Now this is the exact person we had in mind. “Snoop Dogg.” That answer took no thought at all.
What are you working on now?
Elusive as always he explained “I don’t really wanna say, I’m in the studio right now. Just know, the less you see the more I’m working.” We can check in on his social media to find him mesmerized by studio soundboards.
What’s your end goal with music? How do you want to be remembered?
“I don’t know, when you die nowadays you go to automatic legend…being yourself is already kind of legendary, ain’t nobody the same, everybody different.” Digital continued
What do you like to do in your down time?
For a man that is always working on his legacy, spare time is hard to come by. Digital tell us: “Building a studio, some stuff outside of music, chilling. Then he pauses to continue, “ain’t really no down time for me, there’s just time I can spend doing something else.”
How would you describe your style?
Chill, being me, the cool guy I guess.”
There is something mystical that lures artists to Sonny Digital’s mastery of music. Maybe it’s the hard hitting drums, the intensity of the high-hats, or the intricate little nuances that make his beats distinct. Digital is a beast behind the boards and should be revered as such. Some people follow the wave, Sonny Digital is the wave.
PHOTOGRAPHER: LUKE DICKEY
PRODUCER: NATASHA KHROLENKO
STYLIST: JENNY HAAPALA
STYLIST ASSISTANTS: OLIVIA JAKUBIK & ARTT KIM
GROOMER: TORU SAKANISHI @ JOE MANAGEMENT