Recently, I was blessed with the opportunity to have an enlightening and eye-opening convo with Delandrian ‘Digistar’ Aikens. Our intellectual exchange ended less than a week ago, but the words he spoke were branded into my brain and have no expiration date. You may not know him yet, and that’s okay.
He’s a husband, father, musician, songwriter, producer, visionary, and Savannah-native who’s kept an ‘I believe God’ mentality in spite of his reality. As he’s navigated through the first year of his fly forties, we sat down and talked about the influence that faith and music have played in his life and how those two instrumental factors drive his desire to help others succeed. Here’s some of our dope dialogue…
iD: What would you consider your main hobby?
Digi: I enjoy many things, but my main hobby is building my collection of Jordan sneakers. I collect Jordans like they’re cars.
How did you start singing, producing, and arranging?
I’ve been singing since the age of 3. It’s nothing that I realized I could do. I just started doing it.
I think that producing and arranging have always been there subconsciously because of how in tune I was with music. I didn’t realize it until I became an adult.
How did you begin playing the piano?
I will admit. I was the type of kid to start stuff and stop stuff, but I begged my mom to sign me up for piano lessons from ages 8 to 15. My parents bought me a piano when I was 15, and I played my first gospel song in two days. From there, the rest was history.
What is a song that always brings you into a state of nostalgia?
I remember listening to “Human Nature” at 7 years old. It was just this overwhelming feeling of goodness! [laughing] Listening to that vinyl made me feel amazing as a kid.
Going back to listen to it as an adult and accomplished musician, there’s an even deeper connection because I feel the same way, but I hear all the intricacies of the record.
How would you describe your company, Digistar Worldwide Entertainment?
DigiStar is a conglomerate. My vision is to have a full-service entertainment company that will attack all grounds of media, entertainment, and eventually turn into a major capitalist where we can invest into others’ dreams.
What’s the best advice that you’ve ever been given?
The best advice I’ve ever been given is that nobody can pay you what you’re worth, so you can’t do things for that because your value is worth more than money. Its kept me humble and kept me hungry.
If you could define yourself as an independent musician, what would you say?
I’ve always had an “I believe God” mentality. Even though I didn’t always have it towards myself, I’ve always believed God for other people. I’ve believed God for the bigger, the better, the greater, and the impossible.
Me and Ramon [“DrumDucer” Gaskin] actually had this conversation the other day. He called me LeBron. I was so caught off guard just hearing those words, so I asked why, and he said, “You make everybody better. You’re the LeBron out of all of us. Whether you get appreciated or not, you’re that guy.” It was a huge encouragement: very humbling to hear.
Sometimes, it brings me to tears because I don’t always feel that I get the same appreciation and love that I try to instill into others. But even then, I believe that God has always had me in mind. I always tell myself, “You may feel looked over, but God is looking out for you. You have to check your perspective. Maybe you’re not being looked over. Maybe you’re being looked out for.”
Who’s your favorite Bible character?
David is my favorite because I connect with him the most. I know what it’s like being the last man on the totem pole so to speak but still feeling like I have giant-slaying strength.
This is so random, but who are your favorite cartoon characters?
It’s definitely between Tom & Jerry and Bugs Bunny.
What are some things that few people know about you?
A lot of people don’t know that I home-schooled my kids for 4 or 5 years. God blessed me with the opportunity to support my household through music ministry.
I scored a movie called, “Stubborn as a Mule,” that was directed by Arcelious Daniels & Miller Bargeron, Jr. and released in 2010. Since then, its received national and international acclaim in places like New York, Los Angeles, Nigeria, and the UK.
“You have to check your perspective. Maybe you’re not being looked over. Maybe you’re being looked out for.”
How do you respond to the “backup plan” question? This is also known as the question that asks, “What if you don’t make it?”
I don’t believe in backups. I believe in diversity. You need to be diverse in case something alters your plan. I believe we’re all multi-talented and can all have passions that are almost as equal to our first passion.
It’s something outside of the first thing you wanna do that speaks to your character, speaks to your gift, and can also be used in a way that impacts the world.
What personal attributes are most important to being successful?
There’s a lot of talented people in the world, but I believe determination, confidence, and wisdom are what separate the people who maximize and those who don’t. You gotta push when ain’t nobody else pushing. You gotta believe when nobody else is believing. You gotta go when nobody else wants to go.
You’ve gotta keep running the race: even when you have some behind you and others that are so far ahead of you.
Who are your 3 biggest inspirations?
My first person is Quincy Jones. By the time he got to Michael Jackson’s Thriller album, Quincy was like fifty years old. He produced the biggest selling album of all time in his 50s. See why I’m so inspired to keep going?
Definitely. This helps me to see your reasoning.
The next one is Jay-Z. I’m a hip-hop head. He mastered the art of being commercial and underground. Even as he became a great businessman, he was still the dopest emcee.
Kirk Franklin is my number 3. I remember “Yo MTV Raps” playing his song, “Stomp,” and a Diddy record back to back. He captured mainstream and gospel at the same time. That’s my model.
Is there anything special that you would like the readers to take away from this interview?
Never give up. It’s cliche but true. Don’t be afraid to dream or be insecure about who you are and what you’re organically created to do. When I say, “organically,” I mean that it connects back to the Creator and His creation.
I’ve learned that life is definitely a marathon. It’s not a race to the finish line but a strategic and methodical walk to the finish line. With that being said, understand that some may run, but, if you’re the one walking, don’t feel like you’re less valuable because you don’t finish as fast as someone else.
Above: Footage of Digi leading RLW as they performed for thousands at Savannah State University’s homecoming in 2014 via YouTube