An Interview with Ajruinedmyrecord

Seth King speaks to the producer and engineer for Playboi Carti and A Boogie
By    October 1, 2019

Putting numbers on the boards since 2005. Please support Passion of the Weiss by subscribing to our Patreon.

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.

Tell me about the track “Shoota” with Lil Uzi Vert you engineered.

Ajruinedmyrecord: I knew it was going to go platinum, off rip. It was one of those songs. He recorded it at Mean St. Uzi already had his part done and they sent the MP3. Then Carti recorded, it didn’t take him too long. There was originally a second verse sent by Uzi but it actually got cut for some reason.

Does Carti do several songs at once or sometimes just one?

Ajruinedmyrecord: It changes off his vibe. Sometimes Carti just comes into the studio to listen to his songs. Other times, we just vibe out and hang.

What do you think of the recent leaks?

Ajruinedmyrecord: I hate leaks. Leaks are the worst. They don’t just mess up the artists they mess up everyone else up as well. I don’t even know how things get leaked. Is there some type of protocol to prevent leaks at the studio? We don’t leave anything on the computer here. I try to do that for other artists as well, just because the studio computer is a shared computer you never know who is going to be nosy and see what’s there. So, when I work with anyone, I don’t leave anything on there at all. It makes sense.

What’s the sound of the new album?

Ajruinedmyrecord: It’s a whole vibe, It’s different. Each album he changes and elevates his sound. This one is more atmospheric. I produced “Pop Bottles.” That song got leaked but then it got taken down. It’s cool to see people like a leaked song but only a limited amount of people are hearing it. I’ve come to realize people who listen to leaks are diehard Carti fans and aren’t the people who are just downloading it off Apple Music.

Do the leaks affect you getting paid?

Ajruinedmyrecord: Very much so. When the song leaks the artists might not put it on the album so that can be the end of it. You don’t see any money. Generally, how the music industry works is producers send some beats to the artist then the artist gets on the beat and when it’s time to put the song out that’s when the process of getting paid begins, splits and whatnot. It’s different with indie-artists because as a producer you might have them pay you upfront before they even get on it. But it makes sense – why would an artist pay for something their not using? And this process is how you sometimes end up with two artists on the same beat because sometimes the producer might have sent the beat out, not knowing the other artist has got on it. D

Does he record typically one complete performance or does he punch in?

Ajruinedmyrecord: Both. He used to punch in more but this tape he did a lot of the vocals as one performance.

Are you working harder than ever in the studio or are you relaxing waiting for the new album?

Ajruinedmyrecord: I’m working right now with A Boogie on his new album. I’m constantly on the road with him. I’ve become his personal engineer, so now I’m with him 24/7. I did the majority of Hoodie SZN, I recorded and mixed it. He wanted me to do it so I told him I’d do it. So, now I’m constantly on the road, traveling, able to see the world doing what I love. When I first started working with him I didn’t realize how big he was. Now at his shows I see how big he is and it’s cool. I view everyone as just regular people. I first started recording Lil Baby there before he started popping, it happens all the time. You never know who is going to blow when your the engineer at a session so I just treat everyone the same, give them all my attention.

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