Locals: Producer A.U., Columbus hip-hop’s man behind the curtains

  • Photo by Jodi Miller
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From the April 11, 2013 edition

“A.U., what it do?”

If you’re at all familiar with the Columbus urban music scene chances are you’ve heard this phrase before.

The slogan refers to Jack Burton, aka Tha Audio Unit, a Columbus hip-hop producer and the man behind numerous modern Cbus classics. The phrase is shouted at the beginning of L.e for the Uncool’s 2009 hit song “Polo on My Body” and P. Blackk’s catchy anthem “Concorde Rollin.”

“Everyone was getting hip to me,” A.U. said. “I was getting responses from California like, ‘Ooh, I love this song,’ [I would reply], ‘What song?’ ‘Polo on My Body!’”

Considered a young veteran by his peers, A.U. began making music when he was 12 years old and a lot of his musical beginnings are attributed to his family.

“I always loved music since, like, two years old, jazz, rock ’n’ roll,” he said. “My mom used to listen to John Tesh and was interested in the pianos, the violin and horns.”

As his music interests increased, his grandfather gave him a desktop computer to begin his music production. A.U. made a non-portable studio portable; doing whatever it took to do business.

“I tore my desktop up carrying it around; I used to take it everywhere with me,” A.U. said.

During the course of his young career, the Columbus native has produced and engineered for the likes of Jeremih, Smoke DZA, Machine Gun Kelly, Stalley, Freeway and Curren$y, just to name a few. These accolades, though, didn’t stop the Columbus producer from losing his mind when a member of Wu-Tang Clan came by his studio.

“[Cappadonna] came through; he was super humble, heard some beats and he liked every single last one of them. He did the track and he was on his way,” A.U. said. “But the whole time I was like, ‘Yo this is Cappadonna from the Wu-Tang Clan. Wu-Tang is in my house!’”

A trip to New York would ultimately define A.U.’s goal as a producer. He made a stop into the Def Jam Records’ office where he saw the action live and in person.

“I wanted to see everything that was going on in there from the music to the business side,” he said. “That’s really what I want to do, be behind the curtains.”

So what’s next for the aspiring super producer and label executive? Representing the state in which he’s lived all of his life with a compilation album, set for release later this year or early next.

“I’m working on a compilation album, everything produced by me, it’s called Made In Ohio,” he said. “The whole Made In Ohio deal is that I’m A.U., from Ohio.”

Photo by Jodi Miller