Young Guru Talks Future Of Engineering, Childhood Upbringing, Business Practices & More With HHS1987
In the conclusion of HHS1987’s exclusive with esteemed DJ & studio engineer Young Guru at the Heineken Green Room event at Tango in Philadelphia, Young Guru sat down with our very own E-Money in front of a packed house and spoke for over an hour on his career and experiences as the sound technician behind one of Hip-Hop’s most historic record labels.
Before opening up the floor to questions from the audience, Young Guru spoke on the future of engineering and how he believes, regardless of what new advances may become available, the expertise of an audio engineer will always be necessary.
When the floor became open for questions, Young Guru fielded inquiries about his childhood upbringing and the influences that led him to being an engineer, the business practices he thinks can help and hurt artists, the perception that celebrities are larger than life and much more.
Who Is Young Guru?
Gimel Androus Keaton (born February 24, 1974) better known by his stage name Young Guru, is an American audio engineer, record producer and DJ. Young Guru was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2011 for his work on “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys.
Revered as “The Sound of New York,” Young Guru possesses over a decade of experience in sound engineering, production, and A&R for the acclaimed Roc-A-Fella Records and Def Jam Recordings. Most recognized for shaping some of the biggest talent in Hip Hop, Young Guru has mixed 10 of Jay-Z’s 11 albums, and has earned himself a number of shout-outs on Jay-Z’s tracks paying homage to his exceptional skills behind the boards.
Young Guru acquired his moniker as a teen when he taught African history classes at a community center. He also used his name when he began working as a DJ while still a teenager. In the early 1990s Young Guru bought his own amplifiers, lights and microphones which sparked his interest in music technology. He began DJ’ing in Washington DC in 1996, where he met singer/rapper Nonchalant, who had a top 20 single at the time, and became her tour DJ. Young Guru, who had taken piano lessons as a child, used the money he received from the tour to fund a six-month music recording course at Omega Recording Studios in Rockville, Maryland, which had a great impact on him. After Omega, Young Guru engineered Nonchalant’s second album, which was never released, but the producer, Chucky Thompson (Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans) recognized the young engineer’s potential and invited him to come and work with him in Washington DC. In 1999, Young Guru went independent and moved to New York, where he worked with Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie on his Madd Rapper project and with Memphis Bleek. The latter was signed to Roc-A-Fella Records, which led to Young Guru meeting Jay-Z.
Over the years Young Guru has been a major part of several artists’ careers in addition to Jay-Z, including Beyonce, Rihanna, Ludacris, Ghostface Killah, Freeway, Cam’ron, Redman & Method Man, Mariah Carey, Pete Rock, Fabolous, Talib Kweli, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and T.I.
He was recently the tour DJ for the ‘Watch The Throne’ world tour featuring Jay-Z and Kanye West.