Sonny Digital Shares the Story Behind His 5 Biggest Beats: Interview

The veteran Atlanta producer takes us behind the scenes of Travis Scott's "Stargazing," iLoveMakonnen's "Tuesday," and more.
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Sonny Digital is for the people. Always speaking on producers’ rights, making savvy business moves, and producing incredible work with the likes of 2 Chainz, iLoveMakonnen, Travis Scott, and countless others, Sonny embodies what every producer strives to be: prolific. 

With several platinum plaques to his name, and personal relationships with some of the most sought after artists in hip-hop, the 28-year-old native of Atlanta is living the producer dream, but according to him, this is just regular shit.

“It ain’t gon’ be no crazy, extraordinary story because we was always working,” Sonny explains to me over the phone. 

His humility is admirable considering his name is attached to massive hits, the song that broke Future, and the intro to one of the most hyped albums of the last few years, ASTROWORLD

“It’s regular because I’ve been working with Travis for a long time,” he adds. “To the people [who] I’ve been working with, it’s just regular work.”

Sonny Digital (born Sonny Corey Uwaezuoke) stresses time after time that his success is just a byproduct of kicking it with the homies and focusing on his craft. 

“I don’t like being in the studio with nobody nowadays, unless it’s like people who I been working with, like Travis,” he says, adding that he doesn’t sit on beats. Most of his work is made-to-order, made for the occasion.

This, of course, is why Sonny Digital always has a fresh sound. He doesn’t play on the fringes or wait in the wings; Sonny is in the throes of this rap shit, putting in work that can’t be anything other than cutting edge.

In his own words, here is the backstory behind Sonny Digital’s five biggest songs, lightly edited for content and clarity.

iLoveMakonnen — “Tuesday” ft. Drake (2014)

Co-produced by Metro Boomin

“We were really just working. It ain’t gon’ be no crazy, extraordinary story because we was always working. I pulled up to Metro crib, and we were already working days before, so it was just another song that we was doing. [iLoveMakonnen] had recorded the song how he had already been doing the songs in one take.

“It got crazy when Drake had reached out to get on the song. That was the crazy part, because we weren’t expecting that song to be the single. We was thinking ‘I Don’t Sell Molly’ was gon’ be the single. [Drake] had called me one day, and he asked if he could get on it. That kinda threw me off, but then I was like, 'Yeah, of course,' but let me call and ask Makonnen right quick.

“That shit just went up, you know?”

2 Chainz — “Birthday Song” ft. Kanye West (2012)

“That song, actually, is a song that me and Gorilla Zoe did when I first… This was before I got popping. I knew Zoe and he was working on these mixtapes. He was doing mixtapes every day for 30 days, and he was like “Alright, what’s your beats?” So I was playing him all my beats.

“The ‘Birthday Song’ beat is a song that he had used, actually, that Gorilla Zoe had rapped on a long time ago. Then I remember 2 Chainz had reached out to him and asked him if he could use the beat.

“He had actually got on the song first for another project. I was actually on there rapping, too. So it was me, Gorilla Zoe, and 2 Chainz on the song. That was a while back. After that, we gave the beat to 2 Chainz and they gave it to Kanye and they did all this stuff.

“I remember, 2 Chainz called me like, ‘They took out all your stuff, everything.’ They had to fly back to LA, I fly out to LA to go put back in the hard shit. They said Kanye took out a whole bunch of shit. I had to go back and put the shit back in there. I remember that day. That’s how that came about.

“[The song] is way different. It’s not missing nothing. It’s just like if I collab on a beat versus I made a beat by myself.”

Travis Scott — “Stargazing” (2018)

Co-produced by Mike Dean, 30 Roc, Bkorn, BWheezy

“That [beat] was regular because I’ve been working with Travis for a long time. To the people [who] I’ve been working with, it’s just regular work. We finally just got recognized for our work. I did the intro on Rodeo, 'Pornography.' I already been at the front of the album before. It’s just getting exposed to the people now. The way we work, it stays the same. There’s just more people actually seeing it now. It feels good, but it’s regular. We been doing this.

“[I produced] the first half. It was a beat my boy had done the sample on it, really it’s just sampling drums. There wasn’t really too much to it. Mike Dean and Allen Ritter added some stuff to the beat, but we did the sample and drums. When I played the beat, I was really working on the beat. It wasn’t finished. It wasn’t a really difficult beat. At the max, probably four sounds in it.

“I flew to LA specifically to work with Travis. A lot of times, the beat we use is nothing we been sitting on, freshly cooked up, made for the situation. I don’t like being in the studio with nobody nowadays, unless it’s like people who I been working with, like Travis. You don’t catch me in the studio too much with anybody, or really sending out beat packs. It’s outdated and it’s not a really good way to be getting work done. I just kinda let everything fall in place. Whatever happen, happen.”

YC — “Racks” ft. Future (2011)

Co-produced by STUDENT

“That beat was not even the kinda beat that I wanted to be known for making. I just happened to be making some beats that sounded like that at the time. We didn’t know [Future blowing up] was gon’ happen, we just always be workin’. It was so brand new—the sound—I really wasn’t feeling none of it. I just had to get used to it.

“The whole music thing shifted when ['Racks'] came out. Like, I don’t know if this shit good, you know what I mean? When it first came out, I didn’t understand the sound. Commercial trap sounding shit, that was a whole new sound. When I first heard it, I was like, ‘I don’t know what this shit is.’ I had to get used to it to understand it. A lot of songs, when I first hear ‘em as a producer, I don’t like ‘em. I gotta get used to it.

“Nobody didn’t even know each other. YC didn’t know Future. Future didn’t know YC. All [the] stars just kinda aligned. I knew Gorilla Zoe, to take it all the way back. YC being signed at the same place as Gorilla Zoe, and I was trying to come on as a producer. I was dropping loads of beats. So that was off the strength of me being around Zoe, so YC found the beat. He did the song, and then I don’t know how him and Future connected. Probably on some street shit. That n***a hopped on the record. Everybody kinda blew up in their own little way.

“I was just making beats and sending ‘em out at the time. How long was I sitting on that one? I’m not sure. I remember the beat number! It was beat number 85. 085. I always got my beats by number. By the time that one got picked, I was probably on beat number 300.”

50 Cent — “I’m The Man” ft. Sonny Digital (2015)

“That song was originally 100 percent all mine. I had recorded it. I make songs for myself, just for me, I wanna make a good ass song. I started working on it, it took me a couple of days to get the shit done. I had my buddy come in, his name is Josh, he played guitar for me—I had met him through a song.

“So then my manager is like, ‘Yo, 50 Cent said he liked the song.’ I was like, ‘That’s what’s up.’ Boom. Couple months later, after that, 50’s coming to town. So, boom, he pulls up to Atlanta and a lot of people all in there, and I was playing beats. I had to get in a couple beats then we was chopping it up. The next day, 50 had hit my manager, said he wanted to buy ‘I’m The Man’ so I’m like, ‘Oh, shit!’

“I had ['I’m The Man'] for a year by myself, it did what it was gon’ do. Knowing he was gonna put the money behind it… There’s actually two versions. The one with Chris Brown and the one that I did. He had kept me on the hook, too.”

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