Interview: Digital Black Talks “Don’t Think They Know”, Aaliyah, Chris Brown, Playa Legacy
There has been a lot of buzz surrounding Chris Brown’s new single “Don’t Think They Know’ featuring the late Aaliyah. Of course fans of Aaliyah would already know that the song is actually a remake of the record she originally recorded with Digital Black from the R&B group Playa. YouKnowIGotSoul had a chance to speak with Digital Black about the history behind the track “Don’t Think They Know”.
The origins of “Don’t Think They Know”: It was a trip, J-Dub gave me the track in Australia when Aaliyah was working on “Queen of the Damned”. It was one of those records that I specifically wanted to do for the fans because Aaliyah really cared about her fans. It was a song to give back to them. Just knowing her and being around her, I just tried to write a record to let the fans know that we would do this thing for free because it’s an honor for people to appreciate our music. We recorded the record when we got back to LA and that was after they had mixed and mastered the album, so it was supposed to be on Playa’s album.
Finding out Chris Brown would be remaking the song: I was blessed, I felt it was an honor because of how many songs Static and I had recorded that haven’t been released. For him to choose a record that was probably already heard, it was an honor. In this business, you do it with a chance of making money which is good, but for me it was also confirmation that the Playa sound is still alive. I always felt we were underrated as a group, so it’s just confirmation that years later, a record that wasn’t even heard, would come out. It just shows you that you’ll never know how long it takes for that seed to become a tree, but once it becomes a tree, it bears a fruit. It’s a blessing.
Chris Brown’s version: I love it. I’m a fan of Chris Brown. He’s one of the true singers in the younger genre of R&B/Pop. I’m just being honest, it’s a dope record. I love what they did.
Thoughts on new artists using unreleased Aaliyah material: It’s a touchy subject. I’m indifferent with it because I feel both sides. I understand the people who say the stuff shouldn’t be touched and I feel the people who feel like it should come out. Aaliyah poured her heart out to everything she did and sometimes you feel like it’s a shame that some of the stuff won’t be heard.
Playa’s influence on the new generation: Drake sampled us last year and Chris Brown is using our record now. I know I can speak for Static Major and Smoke E. Digglera on this, when you do music you want people to enjoy it. Sometimes it takes a minute for people to catch on. I know we have a huge underground following and I know I’ve heard people say that Playa was the most underrated group. I guess our legacy is still being written. I’m just enjoying my view right now. I mean come on man, Chris Brown and Drake listen to our music. I wish Static was here to see it. It feels pretty good though, I can’t complain.
Future plans: I’m working with my son on his project right now. I’ve been working with a few producers and just getting my feet wet again. I still do music when I feel like it because I’m a father as well. The next thing is definitely my son Richy B, he’s only 18. All my kids sing and I wasn’t singing as a good as my daughter when I was 14. You definitely heard the last of me because with music, you’re always a hit away.