GRAMMY-nominated engineer/mixer Gimel "Young Guru" Keaton was the recent guest for an installment of The Recording Academy's 5 Questions With … series. Held at The Recording Academy's headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., Young Guru discussed working with GRAMMY-winning rapper Jay-Z, his biggest career moments, favorite studio gear, and how artists can help make the engineer's job easier. Part of the discussion was driven by questions submitted by fans using the #5QW hashtag on Twitter.
"The biggest thing that an artist can do is to come prepared," said Young Guru on how artists can help make engineers' jobs easier. "The studio is to record music, it's really not to write music."
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Based in New York, Young Guru started DJing in high school and college. He attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he met Chucky Thompson, a producer Young Guru cites as a mentor. Thompson helped establish Young Guru on the New York scene and the latter subsequently relocated to the city and began working with rapper Derrick Angeletti.
Young Guru met Jay-Z in 1999 when he was recording sessions with rapper Memphis Bleek, who was then signed to Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella Records. Impressed with his work, Jay-Z asked Young Guru to serve as an engineer at the defunct Baseline Studios. The studio shuttered its doors in 2003 and three years later Jay-Z opened Roc The Mic, where Young Guru also worked.
Young Guru subsequently went on to work as an engineer/mixer on several of Jay-Z's albums, including 2001's The Blueprint and 2009's The Blueprint 3. He earned the third GRAMMY nomination of his career in 2010 for his engineering/mixing on Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' "Empire State Of Mind." Prior to that, he earned two GRAMMY nominations for Album Of The Year for Nelly's Nellyville (2002) and Kanye West's The College Dropout (2004).