I walk up the steps backstage at the famous Santa Ana venue The Observatory during my first trip ever to Los Angeles. Through the doorway, I see ATL powerhouse producer/artist Sonny Digital with a blunt in hand, scrolling through music on his laptop to play for his peers.
It is May 19th, 2016. He is the headliner of a $5 dollar show in the smoke-friendly state of California.
I introduce myself and tell him thank you for his time. He could not have been a more humble and down-to-earth dude, and seemed to be even more appreciative of our time.
We walk away to somewhere quiet, and I begin to explain to him how I’m from the New York area and I was recently at the Red Bull Music Academy afterparty event, where he DJed with his peers Metro Boomin and Zaytoven.
So we find a place to sit in the back parking lot. Sonny and I continue to break the ice over the misery of LA traffic and being from out-of-town. Then I ask him my first official question:
Collin: “Since we are EVRYDY.com, we want to know; what is your EVRYDY routine like?”
Sonny: “What’s my EVRYDY routine like? Well, I wake up… smoke a blunt… then get ready for my day. Then I’ll probably go to work and hit the studio for a few hours. Head to some meetings if I have some. Aside from that, I be chillin’, with my friends and family, kickin’ it, you know? Nothing much different than you or anyone else would be doin’. Nights like these I have shows or club appearances or something like that, other than that I’ll be in the studio workin’.”
Collin: “Word, I feel that. Non-stop work flow. I know you do more than just produce and make beats. Now tonight, will you be rapping or DJing or a mix of both?”
Sonny: “I enjoy doing shows like tonight because I’m the headliner, so I have more freedom to do whatever I choose to do. I’ll probably switch it up; play songs I’ve produced for people in the mix of my own music. But you’ll definitely see me on the mic tonight.”
Collin: “Dope man! I’m excited. I’ve been feeling your own music since I heard the original ‘I’m The Man’ you released before 50 (Cent) hopped on it. I know you’re still featured on his version but what’s it like to be heard outside of that “producer” bubble? I mean, even Birdman is telling New York radio to play it more!”
Sonny: “It’s been a blessing for real ’cause 50 is 50, you know? It’s just another stepping stone for me because I’m trying to get my own music out there. A lot of people don’t know that I’m more than a producer so I appreciate you saying that. So yeah, shout out to 50. I’m glad we could make that deal happen like that.”
Collin: “For sure! With how influential Atlanta has been to hip-hop, and music in general, what’s it like to be a major force that’s pushing the culture? ‘Cause I feel when people think ‘Sonny Digital’, they think ‘ATL powerhouse producer’.”
Sonny: “It’s crazy that you say that because I don’t even feel that way for real. I still feel like I’m just the same old Sonny. I think it’s just because I’ve been working so hard these last few years that I haven’t even been able to really look around me to see what’s really happening and how I’m really affecting the city and the culture. Also, a lot of people don’t know the other work I’ve been putting in behind the scenes, whether it’s connecting a new artist with people I work with or setting up other situations. People just see what we put out there, and for me that’s my production.”
Collin: “Damn, I didn’t know all that. So you must know all the young artists that are buzzin’ in the city before anybody else knows them.”
Sonny: “Yeah man, that’s just part of the scene. There are artists you hear now that are hot that I’ve had relationships with for over three years now, assisting when I can, just showing love, you know?”
Collin: “Most definitely. You’re even more of a well-rounded entity than I thought. Now I know you’re somebody who has worked with A LOT of people to date. Being somebody that came up working closely with your friends like Metro Boomin and co., what’s it like working with them opposed to somebody new?”
Sonny: “They’re both cool experiences, you know. When I’m with people like Metro or Southside, it’s like we’re just kickin’ it, playing each other music, etc. We’ve been working together awhile now, so those guys are my brothers. Working with them is just organic. Working with new people is very cool as well, though. Learning new perspectives and work styles and all that.”
Collin: “Word man. Nothing like eating with the people you hustled and starved with. What was your first placement that put you on the map? Was it ‘Racks on Racks’?”
Sonny: “Yeah, it was ‘Racks’. It’s crazy looking back to that and seeing what happened since then. I’m happy the way things went down and turned out.”
Collin: “That’s dope. I remember it came out around Memorial Day Weekend, around the same time that DJ Khaled’s ‘I’m On One’ came out. Those two songs were the party anthems for me that weekend. Couldn’t go anywhere without hearing them.”
Sonny: *laughs* “yeah, that’s right. I remember because I was actually in Miami that weekend, and I wasn’t old enough to get into the clubs at the time. I think I was 19 or 20, so I had to sneak in that bitch!’ *continues laughing*
Collin: “Of course! How are they not going to let you in when you’ve got the hottest record they’re playing in there!? But that’s funny man. I don’t want to hold you much longer, so let me close with this question. What is your advice to the young creatives of the next generation?”
Sonny: “Nah you’re good man, no worries. But my best advice to the next generation would have to be to say fuck what everybody else is doing and do what you want to do. Keep creating the music you want to create and the art you want to show the world. You are your only critique.”
Collin: “That’s real! Sonny, thank you again for catching up and I’m really looking forward to the show tonight and continuing to see you grow as an artist!”
Sonny: “Thank you, guys. I appreciate y’all for real. I respect anybody hustin’ in their field on the come up so anytime! Thanks for coming to the show!”
And the show was FIRE!
A Sonny Digital show is way different than your normal hip hop concert. He is able to entertain you for a night of playing banger after banger, while most people don’t even know or realize that he’s produced EVERYTHING that’s being played.
His set was almost like a mini timeline of his career to date. He would play all the major songs he’s produced that helped him get him to where he is today while giving a little background on every single one. It’s always very interesting to me hearing about how songs come together and all that.
Starting from ‘Racks’, going to ILOVEMAKONNEN’s ‘Tuesday’, all the way up to now with 50 Cent’s new single ‘I’m The Man’, you were able to see and hear the growth of a very important entity to the hip hop culture today.
Not to mention, he brought out Southside of 808 Mafia and Trinidad James to perform a few songs as well. Sonny is really bringing the ATL every where he goes!
Enjoy the photos of the show below.