DJ Afterthought
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DJ Afterthought

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | INDIE

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2010
DJ Hip Hop EDM




"Cover of Pittsburgh City Paper"

After tours with Riff Raff and Mac Miller, DJ Afterthought is making his mark in the Pittsburgh hip-hop scene
“The DJ’s voice got smaller and smaller to the point where most DJs are comfortable being that guy in the back, just playing music. For me, it’s more personal.”
By Margaret Welsh
10:30 p.m. Fri., Feb. 5. Club Café, 56 S. 12th St., South Side. $5-10. 412-431-4950 or
Ryan Haynes doesn’t look back on his early Pittsburgh gigs with a lot of fondness.

By his recollection, the scene was full of talented artists. But for Haynes — who performs as DJ Afterthought — it was cliquey and difficult to break into, and lacked support from major promotions companies.

“It was, like, these crappy little local shows … with terrible sound and 10 other artists,” says the New Jersey native who moved here by way of Morgantown in 2010. To make matters worse, the events usually felt like opportunities to hand money over to promoters. “It sucked, it was terrible.”

Frustrated, he started booking shows in Butler. “Once I started getting traction and bringing Pittsburgh people out there, [venue owners and promoters] were like, ‘OK, we’ll give you a shot.’”

Haynes says that things have changed in the scene since then, and for him personally.

click to enlarge
Ryan Haynes, a.k.a. DJ Afterthought, at ID Labs in Etna - PHOTO BY SARAH WILSON
Photo by Sarah Wilson
Ryan Haynes, a.k.a. DJ Afterthought, at ID Labs in Etna
After multiple national tours with flashy Houston-born rapper Riff Raff, and a more recent tour with Mac Miller, DJ Afterthought (who also headlines his own EDM events) is quickly becoming one of the most recognizable names in Pittsburgh music — even if Pittsburghers themselves are slow to catch on.

Haynes has always been careful to make his own way, and initially maintained relationships with Mac and Wiz Khalifa from a distance. “I never wanted to over-do my welcome, or be perceived as trying to do anything off of them,” Haynes says. “But that kind of catapulted my image with them, like, ‘Oh wow, here’s another person in Pittsburgh who we didn’t put on who’s doing something cool.’ So we kind of naturally gravitated toward each other.”

It was that mutual respect that led to one of Haynes’ biggest breaks. In 2014, on the recommendation of one of Miller’s associates, Riff Raff unexpectedly contacted Haynes. At first, Riff asked if Haynes could help find a decent hair-braider before his upcoming Pittsburgh show. “Then at the end of [the conversation], he said, ‘And I’m about to send you my tracks for the night,’” Haynes recalls. “‘I’m like, wait what?’ And he says, ‘If someone from Mac’s camp gave me your number, you’re a good DJ. If you want to spin my tracks, then come out.’”

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.”

While DJing might seem conceptually uncomplicated, it’s an art that takes patience, confidence and diplomacy. “I work with a lot of bigger artists … so they already have what they want in their head … even though that might not work for the situation.” But his primary strength as a DJ lies in his ability to work a room. “I want to connect to the crowd more than anything,” he says, adding that historically DJs acted more as MCs. “The DJ’s voice got smaller and smaller, to the point where most DJs are comfortable being that guy … in the back, just playing music. For me, it’s more personal,” he says. “It’s a lot more [about] wanting to build that relationship, and really have those people have a good time and really connect … instead of just standing there pressing play.”

Despite his national success, Haynes — who’ll release his first EP in March — is still invested in the local scene. He’s heavily involved in the locally-based clothing company Daily Bread and works with area promoters to bring major artists to town. He also started King of the Burgh, a monthly event at the Rex Theatre, where local rappers perform and compete for cash prizes. “We damn near sell out every time,” he says. “It’s exciting to see.”

Haynes also recently opened an office and studio space in ID Labs, the Etna studio which serves as the home base for Taylor Gang Records. As with everything else, Haynes, who started as a studio client, earned that spot by developing a personal relationship with the owners.

“There were a lot of people recording out of their basements,” he says. In trying to grow the scene, “The No. 1 question is, ‘Hey, what’s something we can do right now to dramatically increase our chances?’ One [thing] is that we need to have a solid sound and not some janky recording. So I’d kind of push [artists] toward ID Labs.”

In turn, 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.

While Haynes says the scene has come a long way since 2010 — he namechecks Norman Dean, Choo Jackson and Joel Kellem as just a few artists worthy of attention — Pittsburgh hip hop faces challenges. It’s still tough to find support from the major bookers, especially those who mostly bring in rock bands. Plus, he says, “It’s not like L.A. or New York … there just [aren’t] the people here who are going to pull you into the industry.”

More than anything, Haynes would like to see the local scene take a more unified position, and work harder to be seen as a positive force. ““I’d love to see more people get out of here and get the spotlight,” he says. “But it’s also kind of a crab-in-a-bucket mentality — nobody wants to support the next person because they want to be it.” - Pittsburgh City Paper

"Summer PGH Paper"

On the Record With Riff Raff
"Gotta keep my game sharp for these lames tryna come at the throne."
By Seth Pfannenschmidt
8 p.m. Wed., July 22. Altar Bar, 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. $20-23. All ages. 412-263-2877 or

This week, rapper Riff Raff performs at Altar Bar. It will be his second trip to Pittsburgh in three weeks — he appeared with Warped Tour earlier this month. As Warped Tour snakes its way across the country, Riff is promoting his follow-up to 2014's Neon Icon, Peach Panther, slotted for a fall release. He took some time to answer a few questions via email about touring, balling and his Pittsburgh-based DJ Ryan Haynes, a.k.a. DJ Afterthought.

I assume you've been performing songs off Peach Panther. How have the crowds responded?

We've played a couple tracks from it, including "Chris Paul" and "Dpaz Out," featuring Travis Barker, and the crowd has loved it.

You've been joined by other musicians on stage. Is your Warped Tour set a spontaneous thing that happens, or is it more planned out?

Every day is spontaneous and wild stuff happens every day here at Warped Tour. We had Versace dragons do some fly-bys and the Gucci moon people tattooed golden Versace flagpoles on people's faces.

You probably have the most unique fashion sense in hip hop — how did that develop?

It's just a natural Versace talent. When you are an icon, it just happens naturally.

You've been on the road a lot lately. What's the best and worst thing about continuous touring?

Performing in front of huge crowds is the best. Not being with my dogs is the worst.

Word is you're pretty good at basketball. Have you been balling at all on tour?

I am always hooping. Gotta keep my game sharp for these lames tryna come at the throne.

LeBron or Jordan?


Could you school any NBA players in a game of one-on-one?

I'm too big to play any NBA players. That would just be free promo for them.

There has been talk about a more rock 'n' roll oriented record, Purple Panther. Can we expect a release?

Rock album coming soon.

How did you hook up with DJ Afterthought?

I met Ryan while I was on tour in Pittsburgh. I needed a DJ and he stepped up, been with me ever since. One of the best show DJs I've ever seen.

How do Pittsburgh crowds measure up with the rest of the country?

On this particular tour, the Pittsburgh show was the best so far. Crowd was huge and intense. - PGH City Paper

"Pittsburgh Tribue Cover of ENT Section"

Pittsburgh's DJ Afterthought brands music, clothing with enthusiasm

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop BY JOANNE KLIMOVICH HARROP | Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
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Being a disc jockey is more than just playing great music.

It's about knowing the crowd you are entertaining. It's about making adjustments throughout a performance. It's even about wearing certain clothes.

“Music is and will forever be far more than a collection of sounds,” says Ryan Haynes, known in the entertainment world as DJ Afterthought. “It's part of the foundation and a supporting force behind emotion and thought. But as a DJ, you also have to take in the atmosphere and transfer music into that atmosphere. Sometimes it's about being vocal and grabbing the microphone and talking to the crowd.”

The 27-year-old Haynes from Millvale does all of that. At a recent Friday night show at Ivy in the Strip District, he had the dance floor packed for a Wiz Khalifa after-party event, the tunes spinning into the early morning hours.

Haynes was hired for the event by Brandon Cercone of McKees Rocks, owner of Limelight Consulting. Cercone has a partnership with the owner of Ivy, Unrico Abbondanza, as a constultant for the club's entertainment.

“He has a big following,” Cercone says of Haynes. “You can tell he loves what he does, and he is moving up the ladder. He has a following in other cities. He is also down to earth, which I really like. He is as humble as pie, and I love working with him.

Cercone heard about Haynes from many of his colleagues and friends in the entertainment business and noticed Haynes' passion immediately.

The scene at Ivy is a perfect example of the attention Haynes draws for shows, here and all over the country. He has connections to celebrities Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller. Haynes has done pre- and post-parties for Khalifa.

The three have promoted local clothing lines. Miller and Haynes have worn items from Daily Bread, while Khalifa and Haynes have represented Hater Magnet. Haynes is a brand ambassador for both clothing lines where most items are $20 to $25.

He says wearing the garments across the country brings a little piece of Western Pennsylvania wherever he goes.

Having support for the clothing lines helps get the brands recognition, says Vinni Buck II, president and designer of Hater Magnet from the South Side. And as Haynes' stock rises, the exposure for the clothing lines most likely will be on the upswing, too.

“I am impressed by how spontaneous Ryan is,” Buck says. “He is sharp, and the people around him enjoy being around him. His ability to change what he is playing during a show is a strength, because he works the crowd and sees what the people he is performing for are doing and makes the necessary adjustments.

“He is a personality. He is a great model for the clothing line because he represents what the brand was founded on — you are who you are and you should be proud of who you are.”

Haynes says he is blessed to have the job he has and he will never stop working at getting better or promoting local designers.

“I want to help build the brands,” he says. “I get excited before every event. Through all the blood, sweat and tears, I try to stay humble.”

Becoming a disc jockey was originally an afterthought in terms of a career path for Haynes, who officially started his music career in 2009.

“Since I started, my goal has remained the same, keep moving in one direction — forward,” Haynes says. “I believe it's impossible to consider oneself truly involved in anything, especially music and entertainment, if we do not know how to listen. Listening to what is being asked of us, and providing even more. My work is like my child, nurtured, strengthened and presented with professionalism and care.”

John Smith, known as Dre, who is from California but recently moved to Pittsburgh, has hired Haynes for events.

“He is hungry and his thirst for this business is real,” Smith says. “He is a people person and he knows how to get the crowd moving and he knows how to work well with everyone. He is respectful, and all of that defines a real DJ. Anyone can play music, but not anyone can reach out to the crowd and feel what the crowd is feeling, even if he has to stop mid-song, he will, and change it up. It doesn't matter where you are from. If you are a good DJ, people will find you and people have found Ryan.”

Haynes is thankful for the work.

“I want to make it in Pittsburgh,” says Haynes, who is originally from Mahwah, N.J. “I love Pittsburgh. People here are grounded and they are passionate. When I meet people from other cities, I am proud to say I am from Pittsburgh.” - Pittsburgh Tribune


"Prince of Hearts" debut mixtape released in March of 2013

"Just Gerald" debut album releasing November 2nd, 2013



DJ Afterthought is an up and coming DJ hailing from the Steel Town of Pittsburgh, PA. Originally from NJ, he most of his childhood involved in music and attended the Conservatory of Recording Arts while also attending Arizona State University, where he was able to define and perfect all aspects of musical production / sound.

DJ Afterthought is a world renown PRO open format DJ with highly polished skills in a wide variety of genres and formats. Live show sets to high profile exclusive club events, he can deliver the best everytime.

Fresh off Mac Millers GO:OD AM Tour, two major international tours and the 2015 Warped Tour, Afterthought has also done major festivals such as Life In Color, Hang Out Festival, Bonaroo , SXSW, a variety of Vegas and other big market nightclub appearances weekly, and many more!

DJing all over the world he has toured or worked with in some facet with a LARGE number of major artists including: Wiz Khalifa, Riff Raff (official DJ), Action Bronson, Mac Miller, Chevy Woods, Buku, Diplo, French Montana, Cee Lo Green, Travis Porter, Pusha T, Juicy J, Lil Wayne, Grandtheft, CL,Tyler the Creator, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Lil Durk, DVBS, DJ Bonics, Troy Ave, Mos Def, Caskey, Christo, MGK, Yelawolf, Snootie Wild, 3lau, Choo Jackson (official DJ), Yo Gotti, Kirko Bangz, Borgeous, Smoke DZA, DJ Drama, Young Jeezy, Ludacris, Young Thug, and many, many more.