The winding journey Ryan “DJ Afterthought” Haynes has endured to own the helm of the DJ booth has led him all around the world for the last seven years. Coming up in New Jersey as a star hockey player influenced by radio stations like K Rock and Hot 97, Haynes moved to North Carolina to attend The University of North Carolina Greensboro to pursue a degree in Business Administration. However, his real dream school was the Conservatory of Recording Arts. After receiving an excellent recommendation from the inventor of the electric guitar and family neighbor Les Paul, Afterthought made the move to Arizona to enroll in the school of his dreams to obtain his degree in sound and audio.
After graduating with his Bachelor degrees in Business and Sound/Audio, Afterthought moved to Pittsburgh, PA, and began to work as an audio technician for the AV department of West Virginia University for major events on campus. He got his first opportunity to assume the DJ role during a tailgate before a major football game. At the time, Haynes was only an amateur equipped with just Virtual DJ programmed into his laptop. The set went great, and he began to get great feedback from his peers and partygoers. His manager was so impressed by his performance that he called it an “afterthought,” hence his moniker. That’s when he began to take his career a lot more seriously.
Over the years, Afterthought has homed in on his admiration for hip-hop and EDM by widening his horizons as an open format DJ. Live shows and exclusive club events have become child’s play to the skilled mixer. To get his name in the mix of Pittsburgh’s local hip hop scene, Afterthought began to work with Daily Bread clothing, which led him to meet with Mac Miller. Afterthought as recruited as a tour DJ for Mac’s GO:OD AM Tour, Afterthought began to embark on his journey to perform on international tours, festivals like SXSW and Bonnaroo, as well as a plethora of venues in Las Vegas and more.
“I’m a very vocal DJ,” Afterthought said about his intense charisma on stage. “I get and I interact with the crowd. I get in there and do shit like that.”
Once he collaborated with Jeremy "Big Jerm" Kulousek and Eric "E. Dan" Dan of ID Labs, they put him in the position to work with plenty of various artists. He ended up dj’ing for Bubba Sparxx, and was tapped to serve as the DJ for the West coast leg of French Montana’s “Excuse My French” Tour in 2013. Eventually, Afterthought crossed paths with entertainer RiFF RaFF, who originally asked for a hair-braider in Pittsburgh but instead recruited him to DJ for him at his show.
The rest is history. Afterthought went on to serve as RiFF RaFF’s DJ and part-time tour manager. With his office and studio space in ID Labs, his studio, which also serves as the home base for Taylor Gang Records, allowed Afterthought to work on his own EP The Underachiever, which he released in March 2016. Since then he has performed all over the world and has been in the studio with the likes of Wiz Khalifa, Action Bronson, Mac Miller, Chevy Woods, Diplo, Cee Lo Green, Travis Porter, Pusha T, Juicy J, Lil Wayne,Tyler the Creator, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Lil Durk, DVBS, DJ Bonics, Caskey, Christo, MGK, Yelawolf, Snootie Wild, 3lau, Yo Gotti, Kirko Bangz, Borgeous, Smoke DZA, DJ Drama, Young Jeezy, Ludacris and Young Thug.
After dropping his own EP last year, Afterthought began to collaborate with RiFF RaFF to release albums like Balloween, which features Skepta, Quavo, Lil B, Gunplay, Travis Barker and more. Recently, Afterthought assisted RiFF again with his latest LP Aquaberry Aquarius featuring Wiz Khalifa, Fat Nick, Choo Johnson and more. He also released his own singles featuring RiFF like “Red Carpet Kush” and “Key On The Table.” When he’s not on the road traveling and performing around the globe, Afterthought continues to strengthen his hustle as a skilled open format DJ and an exclusive producer.
Riff Raff and DJ Afterthought are set to drop their collaborative project Balloween just in time for Halloween (see what they did there?) and today give fans a taste of what's to come with "Fuck Em All." The duo bring a few famous friends along for the ride as Quavo and DJ Paul turn up over TWhy Xclusive's booming backdrop. The tracklist for Balloween includes an assortment of guest spots, with previous single "Back From the Dead" featuring grime artist Skepta. Quavo and DJ Paul certainly pull their weight on "Fuck Em All," and Afterthought agrees as he told Complex via email: "Balloween wouldn't have been complete without the help of DJ Paul and Quavo."
RiFF RAFF and DJ Afterthought are back again working on a new album. Today (Jan. 24), they drop “Test Drive” featuring Wiz Khalifa. The hook is supplied by Wiz who conjures up a melodic chorus that will make you believe you’re floating on the most majestic weed cloud imaginable. RiFF RAFF delivers his usually candy paint soaked verses rapping about playing basketball with jewels in his teeth, Versace walkie-talkies and references to Dustin Hoffman, Herschel Walker and everything else in between. “Test Drive” is off of RiFF RAFF and DJ Afterthought forthcoming album Aquaberry Aquarius that is scheduled to drop Jan. 30.
Haynes now helps run Riff Raff’s tours and does other managerial work for the rapper. “When we get to the venues I’m the first one in … I’m talking to the promoters, I’m talking to the agents,” he says. “It really helped connecting with those types of people who are booking shows outside this area, and [who] have their finger on the pulse in different cities.” ID Labs studio owner E. Dan and house producer Big Jerm started recommending Haynes to anyone who needed a DJ or a manager. “They helped me, obviously, but I never really asked them for anything,” Haynes says. “And they kind of respected that.” When space opened in the studio, Haynes seemed like the obvious choice.
"His sets are ridiculous and he controls a crowd like no other... his skills are undeniable and he gets the job done like a true vet."