You might not know Ajruinedmyrecord by name, but he’s likely been behind some of your favorite songs of the past few years. While still a student at Georgia State University, Aj began his career at Means Street Studios owned by DJ Drama. There he interned as part of the music technology program that would set him up to meet and work with some of the most notable artists of the SoundCloud scene.
Few people out there can say the very first project they engineered went #1, but after hundreds of bodega runs to grab blunt wraps and snacks, Aj’s first project was “Hoodie SZN” for A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie. As if he had a Midas touch, the record shot to number one on Billboard netting Aj a sterling reputation within Means St Studios.
Soon, there was no shortage of artists looking to work with him. He found himself in the studio engineering for the likes of Playboi Carti, Offset and Cardi B. Artists were naturally drawn to his calm demeanor behind the boards, and in just his first year of engineering, he collected several plaques via records from Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti, Juice Wrld, and A Boogie.
Over the phone, Aj is humble about his accomplishments and work within the music industry. He doesn’t like to brag. In fact, he thinks he isn’t working hard enough. While recounting the past two years, he tells me how he put together ‘Angels and Demons” with Juice Wrld and A Boogie by chopping up vocals from a separate JuiceWrld session into the verse. The track later earned them a plaque and of course, the clever move by Aj helped make the song a hit. Aj is currently working on Whole Lotta Red with Playboi Carti where he again notches engineering credits and hopes to earn a few production placements as well. Of course, given Carti’s penchant for keeping his audience guessing, even his close collaborator Ajruinedmyrecord isn’t sure if some of his beats will make it onto the album. — Seth King
Where are you working and living?
Ajruinedmyrecord: I live in Atlanta and work out of a studio called Mean St Studios. It’s owned by DJ Drama and Atlantic Records. It’s also where I first started interning.
When did you start interning there?
Ajruinedmyrecord: I want to say my Sophomore year of college. I was a year ahead so technically I was a Junior, so, that’s why I could do the internship. Normally you can’t intern at GSU until your junior year. That was around late 2016, early 2017.
What were you studying during your internship?
Ajruinedmyrecord: I went to Georgia State University and I was apart of the music technology program there. At first, I thought it was a production program but it ended up being an engineering program. To be in the production program you had to play an instrument. My main instrument was percussion, so I got in. I have an extensive music background as well as engineering education.
What was it like interning at Mean St?
Ajruinedmyrecord: Interning at a studio is like interning anywhere. It’s a lot of labor. A lot of cleaning, a lot of runs, and sometimes working at the front desk. Pretty much every internship is going to be free, that’s generally how this one went. But it was all worth it in the end. People saw me. Everyone was coming to our studio to record so I used that opportunity to network and get my face out there. By the time I started doing sessions, a lot of the artists were comfortable around me. They had seen me around and they had spoken to me already, so it wasn’t like they were working with a stranger.
After you finish the internship, who did you start working with?
Ajruinedmyrecord: My first project was with Playboi Carti. I guess they thought I had put in enough work and then one day I got a call to go work with him. Then I was able to get the opportunity to work with Cardi B and others. From there, my whole engineering career was jump-started. I just became the guy who does all the big sessions at Mean St. A normal day is when me waking up and getting a call about what time and which artist is coming over. Then I try to prep for the session, listening to their songs and get a feel for their sound. Then I try to make sure everything is ready for the artist in the studio. When the artist gets there they should never have to wait around for anything.
What year did you start working with Playboi Carti?
Ajruinedmyrecord: I’d say my junior year of college, so the end of 2017.
Was “Broke Boi” out by then?
Ajruinedmyrecord: Yeah, when I first started working with him he was getting ready to drop his self titled album, Playboi Carti. It had just been finished so I heard it a million times before it came out but didn’t have a hand in it. Then I worked heavily on Die Lit. I’ve done so many songs and sessions, man, I can barely remember all the songs I’ve been apart of.
From his self-titled tape to now has there been any difference in his recording process?
Ajruinedmyrecord: I’d say his work ethic is the same. We’re still in the studio forever, he stays in the studio. I’d say it’s his style and thought process that’s what really changed. He’s more experimental now, trying different things out with his voice, that’s how the baby voice came to be and having more fun.
Have you been in the studio with him doing the “baby” voice? What’s that like?
Ajruinedmyrecord: Yeah and Carti is just Carti. It doesn’t matter what he does, whatever he does, it always comes out cool.