Views From The Studio: Meet Producer Sonny Digital

Here, the Grammy-nominated music producer dishes on his grand foray onto Atlanta's music scene, trap beats, and his thoughts on being underrated in the game.

On a warm, late October afternoon in Atlanta, Georgia, Sonny Digital is quietly tilted back in a swivel chair, greenery in hand ready to light a spliff and get back to work after a pit stop to Smoothie King for a banana-tasting concoction.

The 24-year-old Grammy-nominated music producer is reflecting on all of his accomplishments to date and even some of his mistakes along the way that all worked out for the better in his case. To his right, a guitarist named Josh sits on a futon, as he plays back a recording brimming with just the right amount of bass.  This same small, carpeted room in Sonny's humble abode quietly nestled in the heart of the city housed numerous hits like "Tuesday," Makonnen's 2014 breakout that took him from virtual unknown to OVO Sound's starting five roster. Today, like many others, Sonny clocks countless hours behind production equipment cooking up dope beats. However, instead of supplying the perfect tempo to capture the mood of Future or Wiz Khalifa's latest club banger or deep cut, he's perfecting his own soon-to-be hit.

"It needs to be heard," he says contently nodding to the beat. "I need to get out that [trap] box. I ain’t motherf*****g regular. This sh*t is old news, I been making crazy sh*t for a minute and been to every damn spectrum. I just want people to f**k with the talent and stop holding a n***a back because I didn’t show y'all everywhere I could go with it."

Here, the music producer dishes on his grand foray onto Atlanta's then bubbling music scene, broadening his horizons beyond trap beats, and his thoughts on being underrated in the game for the latest installment of Views From The Studio.

How'd you get your start in producing?
Sonny Digital: The initial reason was that my friends and I rapped and there weren’t enough beats for everybody. So I just started making beats myself.

Who were some of your musical influences?
SD: Production-wise, I was listening to Shawty Redd. That n***a was getting it man. He changed the whole sound. I also was big on getting my hands on anything that wasn’t necessarily mainstream in Atlanta. People always forget about André 3000's importance too. Everything we have in the city is real diverse. You can go in so many directions. I was just the first to go in all those directions and kind of check it all out. If it wasn’t for Shawty Redd, I could guarantee there would be no me, no anybody. Those guys influenced a whole new sound, which turned into something else, which turned into something else, which is what it is today.

What was the first song of yours you heard on the radio?
SD: YC feat. Future “Racks on Racks.” That’s when my name kind of went industry. It was already moving around in Atlanta. You know, when you go to every city you got that one guy who’s on the brink of making it out, but ain’t made it out yet. That would’ve been me if I had never got “Racks.” If you think about it for real, we did shift the whole Atlanta music scene, took the steering wheel and just turned it.

True. “Racks” was a big hit for Atlanta, it was like a resurgence of the city's dance and trap roots combined, and it introduced a lot of people to Future too. How did it come about?
SD: I just emailed them beats. I used to hang with Gorilla Zoe and he used to be at Block ENT, and YC was signed over there. I just happened to send YC a beat and a couple of months later he started emailing me from some weird email asking about the beat. I honestly ain’t know who it was. I don’t respond to nobody I don’t know. He kept on hitting me though so one day I just hit him back because if someone is persistently hitting me then I know it’s serious. I hit him back and I found out who it was and that was that. I sold that bih for $300 though.

Wow, that’s crazy.
SD: Yeah, I mean, technically, they gave me my credit. See where I messed up was that I didn’t put my tag in there. People didn’t hear Sonny Digital so they didn’t identify me with the song. A lot of people today are just now finding out that I go back that far and I produced that song. It’s the same thing with “Same Damn Time” because my tag wasn’t in there. So it’s been like a catch up game with everybody. They’re just so far behind when it comes to me. People honestly just don’t know, although I feel like they should know. 

A lot of people stamp producers with a certain sound, but would you say that there is a specific Sonny Digital sound?
SD: No. You know, that’s a gift and a curse though because every time I put something out people can’t identify it quickly. The way people are, they lazy, they don’t want to go do the work and find out where it came from. But then again, it’s a good thing too because there are some people that do, do that and go look and then they’re like ‘aw sh*t, I f**k with this n***a’ and check out your entire catalog. At the same time though you have a lot of people whining, saying you've got to do something different, but as soon as you do something different, they say, ‘what the f**k is this, where the other sh*t at?’ It’s like dang man, what the f**k do y’all want?

Since there isn’t a consistent sound, would you say that there’s a formula to your creative process?
SD: I just be chilling and really going off of vibes. I just go in and f**k around and might find a cool ass sound that I personally like. It’s interesting the way I look at vocals because I don’t necessarily look at vocals as f***ing vocals. I look at it as an instrument and I’m just finding that one thing that’s missing to make it all sound good. It could be the difference between a beat sounding good and great. That’s just how I look at it, as far as when I’m making beats and stuff.

I heard you made Makonnen’s “Tuesday” in your house.
SD: Yeah, we made it in this room. I’m still here [laughs]. It’s more cost-efficient and it just makes more sense, especially if your neighbors ain’t tripping and you don't require a lot of people around, which I feel like if you’re working then you shouldn’t have a gang of people around anyway. Then again, you got to think about it, I’m young too. I don’t have a girlfriend, no family, nobody to really answer to so I can stay at home and really just get all my work done. We’re in two-thousand-fu****g-fifteen, going on 2016, all you need is some head phones and your laptop now. We don’t need no major studio, let’s be for real. You can record it here, in numerous places. It ain’t no place where you can’t record it. 

One of your biggest placements to date has to be Beyoncé ‘s "Bow Down / I Been On." What was that experience like?
SD: That all came about when I linked with Polow Da Don after hearing that he was interested in what I was doing. It always shocked me though because I was never like this big producer, so I was wondering why’d he be worried about what I got going on when he’s like one of my favorite producers. But when I went down there and met him, he was cool. The first day we met we worked on that “Bow Down” track, which was supposed to be for Rihanna but she had a deadline for her album and we didn’t meet the cut. So then he told me that Beyoncé had picked it, the song came out, and that was the song that came out and that was that. It was just a quick little play; it ain’t anything that I really glorify. Hit Boy actually did the “Bow Down” part, and I did the “I Been On” part where it’s the slowed down Texas sh*t.

Do you feel like people fully understand the importance of the producer today and respect their influence? Or do you feel the term is used loosely, although everyone has to start from somewhere?
SD: That is true but I think people should look into what they’re doing before they actually start initiating a name and taking it and running off with it. Because a lot of n****s, they not producers. A lot of n****s be temporary producers, taking up room. N****s be hot today and be gone tomorrow. So it’s like man, make sure you want to do this before you call yourself that. You can be a beat maker first. I ain’t going to downplay it, nothing like that, but I feel like before you actually hop in, you need to figure out and make sure you want to do this. Are you going to innovate this? What’s going to make you a producer? You sounding like me ain’t going to make you any better my n***a. Do your own sh*t.

So tell me about your friendship and working relationship with Metro Boomin. It unfortunately seems rare these days to have two producers who are killing the scene constantly collaborating. 
SD: That’s the bro, that ain’t no friendship. That’s all it really is and we just make beats together from time to time that just happen to be fly. We first linked when he hit me up a long time ago. Then he ended up going to school down here at Morehouse. We ended up linking after that and we just became real cool. It’s always been love. Ain’t nothing like he wanted something or I wanted something from him. He looks out for me and I look out for him. I look at him kind of just like my little brother. I really f**k with what Metro doing right now. He really pushing the culture.

Speaking of the culture, I feel like there's a definite void of female producers in the game. Man, what's good? 
SD: I don’t know. I be stressing that too. I be telling people, like if there was a female producer(s) that came through right now with some hard ass, crazy beats right now,  that sh*t would go crazy! WondaGurl is really holding down that lane right now and doing her thing. She’s extremely crazy and amazing on the beats. A few of us stayed with her for a month or two when we worked on Rodeo and she just stayed in the room all day just make beats all f****g day. She just be cranking new b*****s out all day like on crazy. And she young too. She getting it in though. But if there were more female producers, not saying taking her spot or anything, but just to really solidify the female lane, it would be crazy. You know history repeats itself for real though. It ain’t no Missy Elliott of our time though. I'm waiting.

Do you feel that you are underrated at all? What do you think is going to be able to change that in your mind?
SD: The problem right now is that people got me boxed in. They want to put all of us like Metro, TM88, Southside, and Zaytoven in the same category. It’s crazy because that’s really all of the producers in Atlanta, but everybody got they own box, they own indefinite sound. You can’t compare Zay’s beat to a Sonny Digital beat or a Metro beat; it’s that different. But we are placed on the same projects though, so people hear it on the same frequency. I understand why it happens. With me personally, I been on so many different spectrums. I don’t know if people underrate me though. I think it’s more of people not knowing. If they knew. A lot of my records, I just caught the short end of the sticks of all my records and stuff. But right now, I’m starting to get a little more recognition for all the work that I’m doing. If I can tell every single person right now, all the records that I’ve done, from way back when, letting them know I been had y'all rocking. Like when I do my shows and I run through my hits, I see all these people eyes light up like damn, this that n***a that we've been looking for. 

You DJ'ed during Makonnen's "Loudest Of The Loud" Tour, did that help your producing skills at all or make you think of producing in a different way?
SD: I’m not going to lie, it did. It gives you an idea of how crowds move, how to move a crowd, and what specific songs always move a crowd. It opened up my eyes. It’s like making a beat live, testing it out in front of the people and seeing how they react to it. And it helps you put together songs and stuff too. You just got to analyze a lot of things as you play songs. I don’t know. It teaches you a lot though.

Has your production style changed since you first started?
SD: It ain’t really changed, it just elevated. I’m real open minded. You see my boy in here with the guitar, and I’m supposed to be a trap producer, right? Come on now [laughs]. We just going up. I still got the same outlook and I stay true to the trap sh*t too. I mean, I make that stuff, but at this point it’s second nature, it’s something I’m never going to forget how to do. Right now I’m dibbling and dabbling into new, next level stuff.

Which I'd assume as getting back to rapping since you've been putting out songs here and there lately...
SD: Yeah. Something lately has me thinking that I want to do this artist sh*t all the way. When I put it out, I didn't even really know how to describe it or what to even call it. Off top, when you hear Sonny Digital or anything affiliated with that, it just affiliates with trap automatically. And as soon as the song comes on, you hear something that reminds you of some guitars or some electric guitars or something rock. So the general public just been putting stuff together and calling trap rock or trap metal or whatever. It's actually kind of hard. And it makes sense though and it’s really a open lane. My boy Josh brought up a good idea that the music I'm making doesn't sound like something you just go and rap on stage. I think it might require a band or something like that and we put on a real show. So that might be in the works, something like that, some crazy sh*t like that.

Did you have any reservations of stepping in the booth because people have this thing against producers-turned-rappers?
SD: Yeah, man, that's weird as hell and f***ing backwards. It don't make no sense though because if a rapper is making beats they get praise for that, but if a producer is rapping on his own beats, it’s like ‘why you doing that?’ It's funny because most of these producers be telling these artists what to do. Basically, a lot of these songs you hear today are products of the producers so people self consciously already be liking them. I don’t care though, it’s a community for this though now. It’s a whole other realm for that sh*t. When music is good, you can’t deny that, period. I’ve been making music for a long time now, and now I feel like it needs to be heard. Like I told you already, people been f*****g with what I been making for the last couple of years, knowingly or unknowingly. And that’s the good thing about it. A lot of people f**k with me and they don’t even know it.


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Boomshots: The Unstoppable Rise Of Dre Island

"We rise to the top," Dre Island sings on "We Pray," his massive collab with Popcaan, "cause we know what it takes."

Building on that theme of musical and spiritual elevation, the multi-talented musician—singer, deejay, songwriter, producer, and pianist—has just released his debut album Now I Rise. The project features the aforementioned "We Pray" as well as crucial collaborations with the likes of Jesse Royal and Chronixx. "Ah mi family dem deh," says Dre Island, who has toured Europe backed by Chronixx's band Zincfence Redemption. A graduate of Kingston’s Calabar high school—alma mater of both Jr. Gong and Vybz Kartel—Andre Johnson aka Dre Island is a living link between the vaunted “roots revival” movement and the sound of the Jamaican streets.

“The revival is really within the people," he says. "Reggae music never stop. Reggae artists always been touring. So it’s just the people’s awareness.” During a time when reggae and dancehall stand at a crossroads, Dre Island has emerged as one of the few artists capable of bringing together dancehall vibes and the ancient roots traditions—not to mention outernational connections like "People" his collaboration with UK talents Cadenza and Jorja Smith. “An island is a small land mass surrounded by water,” the artist told Boomshots correspondent Reshma B in their first interview. “But if you read further it’s also a place where you go to find yourself.”

Released through a joint-venture partnership with New York-based DubShot Records and the artist's own Kingston Hills Entertainment imprint, Now I Rise is a 13-track set that includes the hit single “We Pray” featuring Popcaan, “My City,” as well as the recently released “Be Okay” feat Jesse Royal. Never-before-heard tracks include “Days of Stone” featuring Chronixx and “Run to Me” featuring Alandon as well as tracks produced by the likes of Jam2, Anju Blaxx, Teetimus, Winta James, Dretegs Music and Barkley Productions. The artist is now managed by Sharon Burke, founder of the Solid Agency in Kingston, Jamaica. Earlier this month, Dre Island premiered the official music video (directed by Fernando Hevetia) for the last song on the album, “Still Remain.”

“This album speaks of arising, growth, new beginnings and emerging from the ashes," Dre Island states. "At this time, these are all the things we need based on what is happening right now. The truth is, since 2015 I have been advertising that the album is coming. It has been five years and the time is right. As an artist and person Dre Island move different. I embrace Rasta and this way of life, but I am not part of any group like Boboshanti or Twelve Tribes. Everything I do is inspired by the father. I am moved to drop this album at this time because I am divinely inspired to do so. When you look at a song like “We Pray” I can take no credit for a song like that. Yes I wrote the lyrics and built the rhythm and I voice the track, but it's a prayer, not just a song so how a man fi tek credit for something that come from above.”

Dre Island and Boomshots have been linking up from early in his musical journey. During a recent trip to New York City, he sat down with Reshma B to speak about the new project and his unstoppable rise. Check the reasoning:

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Carlos Perez

Anuel AA Breaks Free

In 2015, an entourage of close to 30 men drew guns among one another during a traditional Christmas parranda in Puerto Rico. The scene turned into something straight out of a movie when a pair of gangsters clandestinely attempted to kidnap local rapper Anuel AA. After a brief scuffle and flagrant shouting match, however, the man born Emmanuel Gazmey Santiago went on to finish the evening’s holiday spree in the boisterous company of his loyal posse.

Months later, after ushering in the new year on a promising note by featuring on one of Latin trap’s first global hits – De La Ghetto’s sex anthem “La Ocasion” with Arcangel and Ozuna – someone delivered Anuel AA a divine premonition of sorts: “If you keep talking about this stuff in your songs, something really ugly is going to happen to you.”

A Puerto Rican music legend, Hector “El Father” of reggaeton-turned-son of God, paid Anuel a visit to share his foreboding message. “He and I did not know each other,” explained Anuel, who prides himself on waxing poetics about the real-life experiences Hector was concerned with, “but God spoke to him and Hector felt he needed to reach out to me. When he warned me, he said it with so much conviction that he even cried.”

Having forged a legacy of his own as one of the key trailblazing reggaeton entertainers of the ‘90s who later signed a deal with JAY-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records, Hector – now a devoted Christian – understood life imitated art when it came to Anuel’s lyrics.

“My lyrics talked a lot about God and the devil, so when he told me that,” Anuel continued, “I knew I needed to make some changes. Those themes, good versus evil, they were my mark and what separated me from the rest.”

On April 3, 2016, just two weeks after meeting with Hector, Anuel was arrested and held in Guaynabo’s correctional institution on charges of illegal gun possession. Following his biggest musical break yet, just as he was touching the cusp of international stardom, a court judge sentenced Anuel to 30 months in federal prison without bail.

Raised east of San Juan, in the Puerto Rican city of Carolina, Anuel AA has a lot in common with many of my favorite MCs: he’s charming, resolute, and lyrically gifted, yet marred by a criminal past, complicit misogyny and the constant struggle between right and wrong. “I had no choice but to carry those weapons with me, because of the issues I had on the street,” the rapper said to VIBE Viva over the phone, while quarantined in Miami. “I thought to myself I’d rather be locked up than found dead.”

Indeed, Anuel had evaded his probable demise when he was nearly abducted and landed right behind bars months later, fulfilling a prophecy that cost him both his freedom and a flourishing start at the tipping point of trap music en Español. “I was being forced to reckon with all the bad things I had done for money in the past,” Anuel expressed, regretfully. “I started reading the Bible for the first time and realized that my talent and blessings came from God, not anywhere else.”

Anuel had begun to take music seriously around the same time his father, José Gazmey, was laid off from his coveted A&R position at Sony Music. With his back against the wall, a scrappy Anuel left home at 15 and began to engage in felonious activity to help provide for his family and finance his music endeavors.

Like many rappers on the island, Anuel was influenced by popular culture and trends on the mainland, most discernibly by contemporary trap. Anuel understood the genre’s synonymy with street life and the drug enterprise and immediately took to Messiah El Artista, a Dominican-American rapper VIBE profiled for championing Spanish-language trap music all over New York.

“I figured if Latin trap was doing well in New York, it was for sure going to pop in Puerto Rico,” said Anuel, who had signed with the Latino division of Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group the year prior to his arrest. “I spent about a month in New York before I returned to Puerto Rico. Then I started to release all the songs I had, one by one, and they began to gain popularity.”

While artists like J. Balvin helped breathe new life into the reggaeton genre in Colombia, Anuel wanted to spearhead a movement in Puerto Rico with a sound all their own. “I recorded the ‘Esclava’ remix with Bryant Myers and it might not have taken off worldwide, but it became a huge trap song in Puerto Rico.”

Akin to the heydays of reggaeton, an Afro-Caribbean genre-fusing hip-hop and reggae that originated in Puerto Rico, trap music was considered lowbrow and was heavily criticized for its vulgarity, violence, and explicit lyrics. Puerto Rican critics and artists alike had very little faith in the music’s potential and therefore denounced it. “DJ Luian, who is like a brother to me, couldn’t understand why I wanted to put all my energy into music that none of our artists wanted to sing.”

“Reggaeton went dormant for years,” he continued. “It was necessary to make trap music, because it felt like reggaeton was stuck in another era.” A self-described student of the late and oft-controversial Tupac Shakur, Anuel thought reggaeton had reached its pinnacle and believed Latin trap would be its successor.

Songs like “Nunca Sapo,” where Anuel channels Rick Ross’ Teflon Don ethos and spits a grimy slow-tempo flow over a sinister 808-laden instrumental, helped put a face to Anuel’s little-known name in the US. On cuts like Farruko’s “Liberace,” Anuel speeds up his delivery for fun and plays on the “Versace” rhythm popularized by Migos, who all hail from Atlanta—the widely credited birthplace of trap music.

For Anuel, whose life mantra “real hasta la muerte” is now a famous hashtag, music aspirations had little to do with radio play. Anuel, 27, was largely concerned with dominating the digital space, especially while incarcerated. Despite his arrest, he continued to release music from behind prison walls while his team fed his massive following up-to-date content.

Hear This Music CEO, DJ Luian heeded what Anuel was trying to accomplish and began to work with Bad Bunny, the Latin Grammy-winning artist and star voice of the current Latin trap movement. “When I was locked up, Luian helped develop Bad Bunny and he basically became in charge of keeping trap alive while I was away,” said Anuel, who ironically came under fire recently and was accused of throwing shade at Bad Bunny for the video treatment of “Yo Perreo Sola,” in which the rapper-singer dresses in drag as a stance against toxic masculinity.

“I couldn’t believe something like this was going viral,” Anuel interrupted anxiously before I could expound on a question concerning their relationship. “It looked like it was something that was edited or put together to make my Instagram posts read that way. I immediately texted Bad Bunny about it and he was like, ‘Don’t worry, people are always going to be talking sh*t.’”

Anuel considers Bad Bunny a genius at what he does and maintains that despite not knowing each other very well, he and his fellow compatriot are friendly collaborators with a working rapport: “When he and I do a new song together, what will people say then?”

Today, the collective jury will reach a verdict upon listening to Anuel’s newly-released sophomore studio album Emmanuel, where fans will find a track titled “Hasta Que Dios Diga,” a sultry, mid-tempo reggaeton number. Fans can expect to hear a star-studded project riddled with guest features, including Tego Calderón, Daddy Yankee, Enrique Iglesias, J. Balvin, Ozuna, and Karol G, to name a few.

Discussing life during a global pandemic, Anuel spoke fondly of his partner-in-rhyme, Colombian singer-songwriter Karol G. “She’s the love of my life. She’s been there with me through the good and bad. People who really love you are the ones who stand firm by you when things are bleak. In my toughest moments, Karol was there. She’s shown me how to be a better man,” he gushed.

“Karol comes off as super feminine—which she is, but Karol also has a really tough masculine side,” Anuel laughed heartily on the other end of the line. “She rides motorcycles and likes taking them up these crazy hills. She rides jet skis too! She’s like a dude, haha. We work well together and we give each other advice all the time.”

The pair are making the most of quarantine life in South Florida, releasing a self-directed and self-shot music video for their joint single “Follow,” a reference to flirting over social media in the era of social-distancing, the idea that shooting one’s proverbial shot can lead to a budding romance.

On July 17, 2018, Anuel dropped his debut studio album, Real Hasta La Muerte, hours before he was released from jail. By September, the RIAA certified his introduction to the game platinum, garnering the attention of Roc Nation artist Meek Mill. When the Philly wordsmith released his fourth studio LP in November of the same year, followers were geeked to learn Anuel had earned himself a place on Meek’s highly anticipated Championships album with “Uptown Vibes.”

I always wanted you and anuel aa to make a track together bc i feel like he’s the meek mill of spanish trap , how was it working with him ?

— Nagga (@naggareports) December 17, 2018

“Recording with Meek Mill for me was like when Allen Iverson played with Michael Jordan for the first time,” Anuel said, singing praises about their first-ever partnership. “I’m a huge fan of Meek; when his music took off I was still in the streets, so I related and identified with a lot of the things he was saying.”

“Meek doesn’t understand a lick of Spanish,” he mused in jest, “but he’s always with a bunch of Latinos. When I speak to him he says, ‘I don’t know what you’re saying, but my Spanish [speaking] ni**as tell me you be talking that sh*t!’”

Anuel leveraged his knack for storytelling and released “3 de Abril” earlier this year, an emotional freestyle about the day he was arrested and a graphic snapshot of his trials and tribulations.

“I did things without caring about the consequences. I thought I was a man because I was street smart. Now I know what it’s like to lose everything, so I wanted to talk more about my life and the experiences of me and my family,” Anuel described the inspiration behind the song.

Following the release of “3 de Abril,” Anuel again turned hip-hop heads when he and Lil Pump shared a fiery audiovisual for their collaborative effort “Illuminati,” stamping Pump's first new song since summer 2019. This year, Anuel also has songs with Colombian pop empress Shakira (“Me Gusta”) and with the late Juice WRLD (“No Me Ames”).

Albeit Anuel and Juice WRLD never got to meet in person, Anuel learned about the Chicago rapper from listening to his singles on the radio in jail. “The same year I won Billboard Latin’s Artist of The Year award, Juice WRLD won New Artist at the American Billboard Awards. We ended up recording the song after that but held off on releasing it for a bit because he and I had respective singles coming out at the same time,” Anuel explained.

“By the time we were finally ready to premiere it, Juice WRLD had passed away. We were never able to record together in person, but at least we got to feature him on the video. I know the tribute gave his fans and family some needed strength.”

Less than 30 minutes have gone by and already I am forced to wrap my conversation with Boricua’s burgeoning superstar:

Anuel, explain “real hasta la muerte” for me. Why exactly is this mantra of yours so important? 

“I can’t betray anyone. I don’t know what it’s like to really betray someone. I’m very loyal to my circle, my family, and those I hold close to me. Being real is what keeps me humble. It doesn’t matter how much money I make or how much I accomplish. What’s critical is staying real to myself and keeping my feet on the ground. That’s what helps keep me going.”

This interview was translated from Spanish to English and has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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Exclusive: BBD's Mike Bivins And Ricky Bell Speak On Funk Fest 'Garage Concert Series' And George Floyd's Murder

The early '90s wouldn't be the same without Bell Biv DeVoe's style of hip-hop, smoothed out on the R&B tip with a pop feel appeal to it. Even as a stark departure sound and style-wise from their New Edition group days, BBD  literally ushered in a new tint to the already hot sounds of Teddy Riley's "New Jack Swing" of the mid to late '80s. Their universal party anthem single, "Poison," cures any wack wallflower growing jam and will forever be the barbeque favorite of your aunt and uncle to sprain an ankle to while dancing.

So today, May 28th at 9 pm EST on, it's only right that the crew known as BBD brings that same energy to the comfort of our homes, with "The Garage Concert Series" during these quarantine times via a streaming deal with the 19-year-old urban music festival, Funk Fest. The series is billed as a jam session that comes to you with the flavor of a bare-bones home garage performance that gets to the organic feel of the music. Joining BBD in this landmark event will be recent Verzuz social media battle stars, Jagged Edge.

Tonight's festivities will be in honor of aiding those in need through the newly created charity by the trio named BBD Cares. This community initiative focuses on the seniors of Laurel Ridge Rehabilitation Care Center in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Proceeds from the moderately priced pay-per-view performance will go to those impacted by the grip of Covid-19. "We’re proud to launch the Garage Concert Series and our BBD Cares effort to raise money and awareness during a time when our communities, our culture, and our society need healing," said Ricky Bell.

Both Mike Bivins and Bell spoke to R&B Spotlight founder, Cory Taylor for VIBE on ZOOM to detail the idea and plans for the Funk Fest and Garage Concert series, as well as expound on the turbulent times we are currently experiencing in society. While explaining how hard things are to bare, music being an outlet helps in healing and this digital event looks to continue to flourish in expanding that notion. “The Garage Concert Series, which we conceptualized and named after other culture-shifting brands like Amazon and Microsoft that started in their garage, is our contribution to the global community,” states Bivens.

Be sure to watch their interview with us and log on to at 9 pm EST for a blast to the past of good music for a great cause. Ronnie DeVoe sums it up best, “our goal is to continue to spread the love while raising money for those who are most in need.”

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