Sonny Digital keeps rackin' up the hits. HNHH takes a look behind the scenes, while Sonny brings it back to the beginning, gives some advice to aspiring producers and still insists he's not a 'Star'
Standing a little over six feet, a slim figured man walks in the studio wearing a white short-sleeved T-shirt, black jeans with a black and red fitted hat. Music blares. The air is filled with smoke. The table littered with cups. He greets the familiar faces with a head nod or handshake. He makes his way to the table and pulls a laptop out of his black backpack, as he gets comfortable.
Atlanta’s own, 21-year-old Sonny Digital is one of the youngest hit producers in the music industry. Colleague and friend, DJ Genius, looks over and asks, “Have you made the beat already?” He responds with a simple, “I’m ‘bout to make it right now.”
Sonny’s love for music started at a young age. He launched his music career as an aspiring rapper and later decided to make his own beats at age 13. He sold his first beat for $100. Sonny didn’t care for the club scene and did a majority of networking via Internet. Like most young aspiring musicians, he began his career on MySpace. He added every friend himself and posted his music along with comments. His music began circulating on MySpace and he simply kept up with social media trends. MySpace took a backseat to Facebook until Twitter came to the forefront.
Working closely with Atlantic Records rapper Gorilla Zoe, Sonny's name began to spread quickly. He produced for other rappers such as Plies, Travis Porter and Juicy J of legendary rap group Three 6 Mafia before producing the mega-hit “Racks” by newcomers, Future and Yung Chris (later abbreviated to YC), in 2011. He met YC through Gorilla Zoe at Block Entertainment, a label of Warner Music Group and P. Diddy’s Bad Boy Records.
Of “Racks”, Sonny says he honestly doesn't know how it hit. "Some songs just take off on their own and then other songs you have to fund and put some money behind it. I think it was a combination of both and then the song just grew legs and took off.”
The song peaked at number six on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles chart and spawned remixes from Lil Wayne, Wacka Flocka Flame, Young Jeezy, Wiz Khalifa, and even received a reference on Kanye West and Jay-Z’s smash hit, “What You Need.”
Sonny produced Future’s current smash hit “Same Damn Time” that is currently receiving heavy radio rotation and has evolved into popular phrase among young music lovers. The song is currently in its ninth week on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart at No. 31 after a 10-spot leap. Along with great radio reception, Sonny recently appeared on BET’s 106 and Park as a judge of the Freestyle Friday segment, and inked a publishing deal with Universal Music Group’s company, Rondor Music Publishing.
Appearances, music videos, interviews, and all the things coupled with fame and success have changed his life tremendously. But what does Sonny Digital make of this? Nothing. How is he adjusting to fame? He isn’t.
“I’m not a star!” Sonny insists. “They put me in a position to be a star. I’m a regular person. I’m down to earth. I just chill, but they don’t understand that. It’s weird how people act when you get a little change.”
Down to earth is an understatement. The producer who has worked with various chart-topping artists such as Miami rapper Rick Ross, Roscoe Dash, and Gucci Mane, doesn’t believe he is a “big enough producer” to have an opinion on what artists do with his beats. “Certain people take certain things the wrong way. I don’t feel like I’m a big enough producer yet. You have major credits for you to really be somebody. I got to prove myself.”
Amazingly, the talented producer says there is no creative process to his music. “I just chill. There ain’t a process to it. I just go in with a clear mind. There are no intentions on making a beat for someone. I don’t hold on to beats. I made it once so I can make it again so it’s not hurting me.”
Still fresh to the music industry, Sonny has become used to the inevitable backlash of success. “The weirdest thing to me is the people and how they change. Everybody feels like you owe them something and I ain’t been in the game long enough to owe anybody anything. All my old friends are out here mad and people are calling me fake and these are people that never grew up with me. They feel like just because I’ve done something that I owe them. Like I’m supposed to put them on and it doesn’t work like that. You got to work for your own. If you don’t know Andre, then you don’t know me.”
His advice to up and coming producers is to simply keep pushing forward. Persistence is key. Never let someone tell you what you can and can’t do. You have to be patient and it will come.
With plenty of artists enlisting his help for their next hits, Sonny Digital isn’t working on anything specific. Check out Sonny Digital's beats on Future’s new album, Pluto, which debuted this week (April 17).