Wildly influential, current titans of the music production game Metro Boomin, Sonny Digital and Zaytoven showed New York this past weekend how the South is running at a veritable position in the music industry on a global scale during a round table hosted by Red Bull Music Academy.

Each developing a signature aesthetic and designating their own sonic trends, the trio of beat makers and rap fixtures spoke openly on Saturday evening [April 30, 2016] about how they arrived at their current heightened stature. Popping off at Red Bull Studios on West 18th Street, Sonny, “Zay” and Metro strolled into a room of beat makers, writers and other musically intrigued individuals, including A$AP Mob founder Illz, to discuss the tricks of their trade.

It became clear after the artists’ discussion the personalized nature of their songs is not by accident yet other aspects of production, such as Zaytoven’s tendency to overlap ever so slightly doubled up, quickly repeated bass notes, are in fact executed by mistake. Metro and Sonny both tipped their hat with admiration to this, loving the coincidental (“Zay” further relayed how a dirty unkempt beat is the best type of beat). 

Firmly explaining ascending into the spotlight and being thrust into the forefront, Zaytoven began by addressing his age old and storied past with trap initiator and precedent creator Gucci Mane but would not divulge much on the topic, stating that with the cameras rolling, the most outlandish anecdotes could not be vocalized. On each occasion Gucci was brought up, the room pattered with a subdued jubilance, often giggling at Zaytoven’s repeated notion that constantly in the midst of recording he had trouble comprehending the lyrical delivery of the trap behemoth. 

Metro Boomin provided a dialogue on his surreal removal from the world of teenage normalcy and his early arrival into the limelight propelled by a track he threw together in college that went on to become an unruly hit. “Karate Chop” featuring the revered Lil Wayne and an individual who would go on to become a devoted partner and giant of the rap art form, Future, showed out. In high school, Metro toiled away every day on the “Fruity Loops” DAW program and explained the main separation between him and other individuals is his harsh daily work ethic. Highlighting too his inspiration in both Sonny and Zaytoven, Metro has allowed two artists he once followed with adulation and fandom, to become close confidantes and friends.

“Even post production wise, ‘3500’ by Travis Scott, it was a song we were coming down to the wire to release. I was like man, this is meant for something, and sent the session to Zay. He sent it right back with all the perfect parts.” 

Preceding his current lauded status, Metro recalled messaging the person sitting directly next to him, Sonny Digital, via social media; reaching out repeatedly and on occasion getting ignored until he wasn’t. Sonny first heard inklings of the up and coming young beatmaker through the internet.

“Metro used to be online a lot. He used to hit me a lot though! I wasn’t big at all, I was still working on getting through the doors so I didn’t ignore him like that, but I didn’t know him so I keep him at bay.”

Metro replied with, “I was bothering him” pausing before stating, “a lot.”

Metro Boomin with a smile remembered disregarding homework and an academic path at Morehouse College (obviously making the right move in doing so). Sonny Digital wants to be this generation’s most prevalent beatmaker that also spits bars. His rap cadence and rhythm can be heard on songs like “50 On My Wrist” and the sultry “I’m the Man” with 50 Cent. The sophomore of the group, Sonny noted the lineage of Atlanta’s progressive and appealing sound by explaining how Zaytoven was in fact the initiator, while he and Metro Boomin respectively followed suit, stating the oddity of the fact the forefather sat first on the Red Bull Studios couch, while they all sat down subsequently; a visual timeline representation.

The mayhem then ensued when the grimy beats turned to full volume at the round table’s after party, held at Lively in downtown Manhattan.

Fog filled the dance area and Alexander Wang along with fashion muse Anna Ewers among others turned up completely to a setlist consisting entirely of Southern trap rhythm and flavor. The Lively was converted to a trap space rife with high octane energy and a tangible appreciation for the artists Sonny, Zaytoven and Metro Boomin, who stepped into the DJ booth at different segments of the night evoking and grabbing all eyes on them.

Sonny relished in his collection of hits, wildly getting the energy level up, interacting with a birthday girl in the crowd before dropping 2 Chainz‘s smash “Birthday Song” and requesting loudly to put “respek on his name.” Metro began with the songs that made him the industry star he is today, blasting the track his infamous tag drop derives from—”Some More”—and the life changing “Karate Chop” to the fanfare of the room. Running through chart topping and recognizable hit after hit, it’s clear this is what drives these particular artists, an overwhelming desire to create the next #1 audio. Zaytoven is privy to linking up with world renowned talents such as Usher and his Beast Mode project, in conjunction with Future, brought both of the talents to heightened levels in their career. Zay, an avid church goer, stepped into the DJ booth at the after-party a few hours removed from midnight satiating the crowd in a fitting conclusion to the organized chaos sparked by the deep bass and hard drums filling the room.

Consistently building and developing on their talents, the trio have obvious hits already but are always hoping for that next chart climbing joint.

Gallery images courtesy of Andronika Zimmerman.