Digital Beats and Grammy Gold

Digital technology has forever changed the landscape of the music industry – a change that may be the most earth-shattering since the invention of music notation in the ninth century. Not only that but it has become the norm for music to be transmitted digitally and for consumers to buy their music online. Whilst consumption has radically changed, so has production. A shift towards synthesizers, sampling, remixing, and digital production studios means that many songs nowadays are “born digital”.

Ebony “WondaGurl” Oshunrinde, the 18-year old hip-hop prodigy, is an inspiring example of a producer who uses digital music technology to do what she is passionate about. She penned her first ever song at only 9 years old and discovered the joy of digital creation through a record button on her first Casio keyboard given to her by her grandparents.

From bedroom to beat battling

From her bedroom, she taught herself how to use music software like Mixcraft, Reason, Sonar, Cubase and finally FL Studio (formerly known as FruityLoops) by watching how-to videos on YouTube and reading Wikipedia, until she won the Toronto Battle of the Beat Makers contest at the tender age of 15.

The legendary history doesn’t stop there though. More experienced music producers such as Boi-1da and Travi$ Scott took note of her talent and stepped up to mentor her, eventually opening up a path to the hip-hop superstar Jay-Z, to whose “Magna Carta… Holy Grail” album she ended up contributing.

Photo: Flickr/Meagan

Digital networking

Using digital communications media, WondaGurl continued pursuing her dream to work with big stars. Recently she sent a beat through Instagram – the popular online mobile audiovisual-sharing platform – to Drake, which led to her 2nd Grammy nomination. “Magna Carta… Holy Grail” (Jay-Z) and “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” (Drake), on which WondaGurl’s beats are incorporated, were nominated for Best Rap Album Grammys in 2014 and 2016 respectively.

As a millennial, she also uses other social media channels to promote her beats, keeping her 30,000 followers tuned in to her creative process.

Producing a rap song isn’t easy though; a hip-hop producer is more akin to a songwriter. WondaGurl creates beat tracks essentially from scratch, building them from tiny samples of drums and synth, leaving rappers to add their vocals. Digital technologies have enabled the rising star to find her passion in music, create her own success, and collaborate with big stars. “I am having a lot of fun. I am living my dream”, she enthuses.

The story of WondaGurl is one that can inspire many other young creators. “I want to win a Grammy. That’s it,” she answered when asked about her future goals. With her track record, there is no doubt she’ll be ticking that goal off soon.