Published on August 2nd, 2018 | by Jameelah "Just Jay" Wilkerson0
Exclusive: Sonny Digital Talks Stepping to the Forefront as an Artist, Fashion and More
Atlanta producer, DJ, and rapper Sonny Digital (by way of Saginaw, Michigan) exploded onto the scene in 2011 as the producer of YC’s “Racks” (feat. Future), and the race was on. “Racks” hit #42 on the charts and earned the burgeoning producer his first RIAA certified gold plaque. The following year 2012, he earned a top 100 spot with Future’s “Same Damn Time” on his Pluto album. This hit single would go on to catch a remix which featured Diddy and Ludacris, the remix which appeared on Future’s “Pluto 3D” album re-issue, was the third iteration of the Sonny Digital-produced banger, began its run on Future’s mixtape entitled “Streetz Calling.” Sonny caught another gold plaque that year with “Birthday Song” (2 Chainz feat. Kanye West); in 2014 the producer earned his first platinum with “Tuesday” (ILoveMakonnen feat. Drake) topping out at #12 the US Charts and #2 on the US R&B charts respectively.
Since his beginning the list of industry powerhouses Sonny Digital has laced as a maestro is vast, to include: Future, Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz, Drake, 50 Cent, Rick Ross, 21 Savage, Juicy J, Waka Flocka Flame, Wiz Khalifa, French Montana, Mistah F.A.B., Trae, Ca$h Out, Gorilla Zoe, Roscoe Dash, Wale, Ace Hood, Kirko Bangz, Mac Miller, Travis Porter, Chief Keef, Rae Sremmurd and K Camp (Try saying that in one breath!). He’s even in demand on the West Coast and has appeared as a judge in the debut season of digital platform Wav Media Group’s “Versus” alongside the fantastic Scoop DeVille son of OG Kid Frost.
Sonny Digital launched a second career as an MC in 2016 releasing his first solo single “50 on my Wrist.” His first solo EP “G.O.A.T” followed, and in 2017 Digital released more of his own work a la, “My Guy” ft. Black Boe and “Look At Me Now.” In 2018 he continues to feature as an artist and drop singles including the interesting I Got (feat. Lil Xan and $teven Cannon).
The Hype Magazine caught up with Sonny Digital in New York recently to discuss his continued advance into the world of artistry, his outlook on fashion and Atlanta continuing to be a mecca for creatives…on THAT subject, he was a bit cryptic!
We know you as the master of sound behind so many but as you step to center stage in a new dynamic in your career, how do you see the emerging artist side of Sonny Digital?
“It’s nothing new to me, it’s new to y’all. I have been doing this. It’s just kind of hitting the surface now. As a producer, you should know being an artist is second nature. If you are good at it, you are going to keep doing it. I was rapping before making beats; the only reason I started making beats is that I ran out of beats to rap on.
What’s the most exciting part of stepping out as a solo artist?
Touring and stuff really but actually, its that I get a 100% of the records because I’m a producer too. Its easier to do business, it costs less. I get to do what I want. I can produce my whole project for free.
What inspired you to start making music?
It was a beat machine, I can’t remember what it was, but my brother had it, and I was messing around on it. That was early on tho I was super young, but it was easier to rap. That’s what made it easier. We had everybody in the neighborhood rapping. Then all the beats were used up because all of us was rapping. So I branched off to making beats.
Give us your insight as to the state of the union of music now and what you as an artist looking to bring to the table?
The music right now is cool; it’s listenable. I’m looking to bring timeless music. Not saying that it’s not there already but I wanna add more of that.
Fashion and music have long been showcases for individual expression, how does that play a part for you in your daily and professional life?
As far as fashion, me personally, I’m not heavily into fashion but do like what I see in fashion and like to look good. And most times the stuff that you look good in is high fashion. So I tend to buy things not knowing what it is but it fits me well. Not saying I’m a fashion god or not, but if it fits and looks good on me, I’m going to buy it no matter what the cost is.
Atlanta continues to be a mecca for creatives, who or what do you see as the next significant movement from the region?
I can’t tell y’all that, Y’all are going to do one or two things, not listen and sleep on that artist or run behind them and amp them up. This might be my plan; I might have to do this without y’all knowing. I’m on a boss up standpoint. Can’t give y’all my sauce!
Last but not least, The Hype Magazine wants to know, “What’s been your craziest “Where they do that?!” or WTF moment thus far in your career?
I don’t really have crazy moments. So much stuff goes on I’m kind of immune to it because I am on the chill tip. See, most of the moments are regular. Like going to strip clubs, people see girls going up the poles and say “ WTF,” and that’s regular to me now. My crazy moments have chilled down now, its different levels and I have seen a lot in life.
Stay tuned because The A3C Conference will host a screening of “The Overdriven” followed by a conversation with three of Atlanta’s most influential producers Zaytoven, DJ Spinz and of course Sonny Digital
The Overdriven is an indie documentary that examines the backstory behind the relentless pursuit of passion and purpose from three of hip-hop’s most notable figures in music production: Zaytoven, DJ Spinz and Sonny Digital. With candid, in-depth interviews from each subject, the cinematic project highlights the emerging phases of their careers. Filmed and edited by Morgan Cox, directed by Cox and Tamiko Hope and produced by Cox, Hope and CJ Peters. (a3cfestival.com)
TALENT: SONNY DIGITAL / https://www.instagram.com/sonnydigital
PHOTOGRAPHER: LUKE DICKEY / https://www.instagram.com/luukedickey
STYLIST: JENNY HAAPALA / https://www.instagram.com/jennyhaapala
STYLIST ASSISTANTS: OLIVIA JAKUBIK AND ARTT KIM
GROOMING BY TORY SAKANISHI / https://www.instagram.com/torusakanishi
COORDINATOR: ESTHER TORRES
TRANSCRIPTION: RAVEN MILHOUSE