Sonny Digital is a producer from Atlanta, Georgia, who became a household name after producing the smash hit “Racks on Racks”, by YC featuring Future. That was almost a year ago. Since then Sonny has spent most of his energy trying to land another hit, but this time something hard, something gutta. He yearns for his own “Tupac Back.” And come summer, he may just get his wish. Sonny Digital confirms with us that Kanye West will indeed lay a verse on one of his beats, for 2 Chainz’ upcoming studio album. That feature will undoubtedly raise Sonny’s profile in the game, and make that super-producer label seem a little less conspicuous.
I heard you had a pretty awesome trip to New York City.
Yeah, it’s pretty fun out there. It’s pretty cool.
And you were on 106 & Park. How was the show?
It was cool. It was my first time going so it was a good experience.
What’d they ask you on the show?
I was on there judging the Freestyle Friday thing. I didn’t really have any questions asked. I just told them who won the battle.
You ever done anything like that before?
Yeah, for some reason I always get caught up doing some stuff like that. In Atlanta I always been judging beat battles. That’s something I always be doing.
Were the freestyles pretty good?
For the most part they were straight. It was decent.
Who else was on the show with you?
Everybody. A lot of people from Atlanta. Travis Porter was there. DJ Scream was there too. While I was in New York I kept on bumping into people I knew.
When you got back from New York did you notice an influx in followers or fans, since you were on the show?
Yeah, people were hitting me like, “Yo, I seen you on 106 & Park.” It was pretty cool. In Atlanta I’ve been here so long that everybody’s seen me. But when I go outside of Atlanta it’s a little different.
I heard you got to work with French Montana while you were there too.
That was pretty cool. My boy Waka had came in too. French is a cool dude. I like working with people who are real down-to-earth, ain’t no Hollywood shit going on.
Yeah, he’s East Coast but he’s cool with everyone down South too.
Yeah, he’s down here all the time. He’s in Atlanta a lot.
Did you get into the studio with anyone else while you were in New York?
Really I didn’t have any time.
How many songs did you do with French?
We didn’t get a chance to actually do songs. I just gave him some beats and stuff.
I also heard that Kanye is going to be on one of your beats, the 2 Chainz song. Is that true or when did you find out about that?
It’s true. I found out about it like a week before I went to New York. That’s when I found out. 2 Chainz called me when I was in New York too and told me about it. That’s going to be a real good look.
Is that going to be on 2 Chainz’ album then?
Yeah, it’s going to be on his album, but I think they’re going to release it before the album comes out too.
That’ll be awesome. Which beat is it? What kind of beat did you send them?
Something you wouldn’t even expect for Kanye to hop on. It was like me doing me. It wasn’t me trying to make something for somebody. It’s some real Sonny Digital shit. That’s all it is.
Is he [Kanye] someone you ever thought you would be working with? Or is it kind of out of the blue?
It was out of the blue, but then again, I would be at the radio stations they would ask me who I wanted to work with and I’d tell them Kanye West. So it was weird how it happened, how it all came together a month or two later. I didn’t really get to work with him, but I got him on one of my beats.
Have you heard the song?
I haven’t heard the song yet.
That’ll be awesome.
Yeah, it’s real cool. I wouldn’t mind if he added anything on it. [laughs]
Is that a big step for you then, going from producing mostly for mixtapes to doing beats now for major albums? I guess the artists you’ve been working with, they’re also starting to release their albums, but is it different for you, musically and financially? You must get paid more.
Of course you’re going to get paid more doing albums, because mixtapes are kind of like a non-profit thing, just something to put your name in and to get you in the streets. There’s going to be more money in albums. But to me it’s not a real big difference, as far as a mixtape and an album, because a lot of mixtapes are like albums. Like with Future and “Same Damn Time”, it was a mixtape song and now it’s on the album. To me it’s all the same.
Do you feel like it’s a bigger accomplishment though, getting on the albums?
If the album sells, yeah, it’s a bigger accomplishment. But to me it’ll still feel like a mixtape. [laughs] Real shit. I could make more money in the streets than I can make off album sales. Albums aren’t really selling like that.
And you started off working with Gorilla Zoe. You still work with him. How did he find you? What was the first big move for you that put you on his radar?
That was a while back. It all started with Zoe, but I had a partner. He used to do graphic design. And Zoe was working on some mixtapes in February. He did like 28 mixtapes in 28 days, probably like a year ago. He started doing that and my partner was doing the art for all the mixtapes. Basically when he went to go drop the mixtapes off he took me over and I played him some beats and we went from there. It just kept on going then.
Was Zoe the first major artist you worked with?
Yeah, he was the first one.
Then what happened after that? Other people started calling once they heard you with Zoe?
They really didn’t start calling because of him. After the “Racks on Racks” song is when people really started calling. That’s when everything got a little crazy. It all did start with him [Zoe] though. I met a lot of people through him. That helped out too.
You say in a lot of interviews that “Racks on Racks” wasn’t one of your favorite beats. Why not? What made it different from the others that you sat there and were like, “Ah, I don’t think this one’s going anywhere”?
Because it ain’t what I like to make. What I like to make is the hard stuff, like the Juicy J-sounding stuff, Tity Boi-sounding stuff. I don’t like making that bouncy, club type of stuff. Truly honestly I don’t like making pop beats. I blew up off of one of them, and now everybody’s coming to me asking for pop beats and everything. That’s not what I want to do. It’s like working at a job that you don’t want to work at, but you got to work at it to make money. I’d rather blow up off of something I like doing rather than the stuff I don’t like doing, even though I can do it.
You’re looking for your “Tupac Back” basically.
Yeah, basically, I need one of those, one of them hard ones to take off. “Same Damn Time” might be one. It might be one.
Yeah, it’s a hard beat. So I guess your attitude towards making beats hasn’t changed because of “Racks on Racks”. Now you’re just fighting the pressure to make more beats like that. Is it frustrating, that struggle?
It is frustrating. You can’t do what you want to do because people want this specific shit. I got so many different people to cater to. I got to go so many different ways. I got people who want the hard shit. I got people who want that “Racks on Racks” shit. I don’t know. It’s just real confusing. It’s cool to do.
So if you don’t like those kind of beats, why did you make “Racks on Racks” in the first place?
I still make them just to know that I can do it. I do it for myself. I don’t do it for other people. I do it to make sure I know how to do it, just in case somebody asked for something like that, in case somebody asked for a pop beat, I can do that shit too. I have a variety of beats, not only this hard shit. I want to show that I can do other shit too.
Yeah, it completes your portfolio. What did you think of Lil Wayne’s version of “Racks”?
To be honest I probably haven’t listened to it more than two or three times, Lil Wayne’s version. I don’t know. It ain’t really get me excited or nothing like that. I didn’t get any money off of it. I heard the original song a million times. I already knew everyone was going to hop on that beat. It was nothing major. If Wayne had jumped on one of my other shit, something original, then I would have felt differently.
I read you like working on your own a lot. It seems to be a trend with young producers. You think that makes a difference in the craft, because people have always thought of music as a collaborative art form? Do you think it matters that all these young producers prefer to work on their own?
Well, when there’s a whole bunch of people in there you can’t read nobody’s mind. You can’t tell what they like or what they don’t like. And I want to satisfy everybody. I would prefer nobody to be in the room while I’m working. I don’t want to be thinking about what they’re thinking while I’m thinking about what to do with this beat. That would put me all off and have shit sounding weird. I just like my own space, my own creative thinking. I thought of all this shit way before anybody was around, so I’m going to keep on doing it by myself.
It’s more of a mental thing for you.
Yeah. It’s easier just to satisfy yourself. You can always please yourself. You can’t please nobody else, or a bunch of people, at one time.
But you trust yourself, that if you make something you think is great, that other people are going to think the same thing?
Everything I’ve made I’ve made alone. And people like it. That speaks for itself.
I see you’ve got some cars on your Twitter. After making all these beats were you able to get your dream car?
My dream car, I got it. I got my old school Monte Carlo. I got another car now too. I got my everyday car. I got a Challenger now. I’m thinking about getting a Tahoe or something next.
What color’s the Monte Carlo?
It’s burgundy. Everything on it is original. Everybody keep on telling me to keep it original, but I want to paint it black. Black is one of my favorite colors. I want all my cars to be black.
Is the Challenger black?
Yeah. I’m going to redo that paint though. You know about flat black?
I want to paint all my cars like that. I’ll probably do the Monte Carlo too, flat black. What you think about flat black?
I see some Beamers painted in flat black. The design of the Beamer is weird for flat black though.
They go real hard with the flat black in L.A. You see at least five cars a day there in flat black, all kinds of cars, even Lamborghini’s, fucking Range Rovers, all that shit, man.
Yeah, you don’t really see many classic cars up North.
Yeah, I know. A lot of people don’t even drive up North. You got to hop in a taxi up there.
Lastly, I wondered where your name comes from. Is it pretty self-explanatory?
My first name’s Sonny. Digital just kind of tagged along later on. It used to be Sonny Delight, like the drink. [laughs] I had to cut that out though.
I can’t be walking around calling myself Sonny Delight.
It doesn’t go with the flat black paint.
Exactly. I would have been looking real retarded when they saying ‘Delight’.
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