Young Guru Breaks Down How Artist Enslave Themselves
all you artist out there need to listen up. young guru is an industry insider who knows the game. most people want to be in the game, but don’t want to learn the game.
Shawn ‘Jay‑Z’ Carter is not only the biggest star in the rap world; with his own clothing company and Roc‑A‑Fella Records label, he is also a highly successful businessman. The recent third album in his ‘Blueprint’ series was his ninth American and his first UK number one, pushing his total album sales to date in the US alone to a staggering 30 million. Its lead single, ‘DOA (Death Of Auto‑Tune)’, provoked much controversy, while follow‑up ‘Run This Town’ was a number one in the UK, and reached number two in the US.
The Blueprint 3 was produced by a swathe of hip‑hop luminaries including Kanye West, Timbaland, No ID, Swizz Beatz and the Neptunes. In typical Jay‑Z style, the rapper also gave a break to some less well‑known talents, in this case Jerome Harmon and Al Shux. The common factors throughout were Jay‑Z’s own New York studios — Baseline and Roc The Mic — and engineer and mixer Gimel Keaton, better known as Young Guru.
On the phone from his home studio in New York, Young Guru recalls, “I met Jay‑Z in 1999 when I was doing sessions for [rapper] Memphis Bleek, who was signed to Roc‑A‑Fella. As the head of the label, Jay would come and check on the sessions, and then invited me to do sessions with him. Soon after he asked me if I would be an engineer at Baseline. I continued to be an independent engineer, but I ended up literally living in Baseline. I did and still do a lot of sessions for Roc‑A‑Fella and Def Jam and other labels, and do pretty much all Jay’s sessions. Even when Jay’s working with another producer who has his own go‑to engineer, Jay takes me along to engineer his vocals. This is to do with my knowledge of his way of working and the comfort and trust factor between us. We do more than just recording: he also bounces off ideas with me, so there’s a kind of synergy about the records we create together. Plus, if you have only one person working on all your music, it cuts down on the bootlegging. I absolutely never leave a session on anyone else’s computer.”