By Dylan Deprey
Tucked above DJ Spa & Nails on 68th and W. Capitol is 2035 Studios. The bass rattling the hallway echos from an open space where engineer and rap artist Genesis Renji sits in front of a flashing sound board.
On one screen is a You- Tube video playing a Seth Rogan interview. On the other screen is a scrolling editing grid displaying a song Renji had recently mixed. Renji enjoys his morning ritual before a long day of mixing and editing music, which includes his daily cup of coffee.
“Music is my coffee, really loud music,” Renji said laughing over the thumping bass.
Renji is coming off of tour and his eight song EP, “I Might Be Home.” The project was released in December 2016 on his House of Renji label.
Behind Renji is a glass wall housing the recording studio layered in black soundproofing cloth. The 2035 Studio is a creative collective agency focused on providing space for and protecting local artists and the culture.
“It’s a huge collection of artists and creatives that bang in this spot, protecting and cultivating the future and culture,” Renji said.
Before Renji was mixing music or mastering the mic, he was an army kid traveling across the country.
“Man, I’ve been everywhere,” Renji said.
He was born in Bethesda, Maryland, and spent the first nine years of his life on the East coast. Though he lived near Hip-Hop’s birthplace, Renji said he was raised on jazz and Radio Disney.
He moved to Milwaukee at 10 years old, and two years later his cousin had introduced him to one of hip-hop’s most noted emcee’s, Eminem. Renji said he connected to the outsider feeling the Detroit Emcee expressed in his lyrics.
“Moving here for me was a culture shock, I was an ‘oreo.’ I’m 11-years-old and being called a bitch in middle school,” Renji said.
He moved to Alabama with his dad at 13-yearsold, and began recording his own music on school computers.
“They were the old school Macbook’s, and we used Garageband to record,” Renji said. “We didn’t even have microphones, we just rapped right into the face of the computer.”
He spent two years in Alabama, then traveled back to Milwaukee in 2009.
Renji attended Reagan High School, where to his surprise was a music studio available for students to use.
“Once we knew that, it was over. Me and my guys were always in there. Before school, after school and even during WKCE when kids were testing, we were in there,” Renji said.
Following graduation, Renji hopped another plane to Arkansas on a theater scholarship. He transferred to UWM after his first semester, which was short-lived as he could not afford to pay tuition for his first semester in Arkansas. He transferred to MATC, where he later dropped-out and moved to Washington D.C. working in music.
Renji said Washington D.C. and Milwaukee had similar hip-hop scenes, but it was in Milwaukee where he truly felt inspired.
“Traveling across the country, nobody makes better art than Milwaukee. From poetry to music Milwaukee is untouchable for art, and there is a hunger here,” Renji said.
His path behind the boards was solidified after Milwaukee rapper, Pizzle, gave him a shot to record guest verses on one of his
“I was constantly going to the studio,” Renji said. “I’d just go there to be there. I’d call and be like, ‘Is it cool if I sit in on some sessions?’”
It was outside of the classroom where he obtained his own version of a music engineering degree.
“The University of You- Tube, I got my masters in music,” Renji said. “Then it was a lot of trial and error.”
Renji has mixed for a handful of rappers and singers across the city. He said there is a science to properly recording music.
“It’s not just stepping in front of a mic. It’s knowing how far you need to be from the mic, and also know when to pull back when raising your voice, and get closer when lowering,” Renji said.
He added that his music engineering background is what separates him from other artists because he knows his studio better than anyone, although he can pretty much guarantee a pristine mix.
“I love engineering, I really enjoy it, I see myself doing this even when I retire like P Diddy , executive producing everybody else’s shit and dropping an album every seven years,” Renji said.
As for the near future, Renji will be clocking plenty of hours working with artists at 2035 Studios and hopefully reaching to artists out of state.
“I’m one of the GOATS, if it’s not me then who?” said Renji jokingly. “Nah, I just want to make good music and inspire people to love and trust themselves and be able to vent properly.”