This Week in Hip-Hop/R&B History: Happy Birthday Young Guru!

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On February 27th, 1974, Delaware-born audio engineer, record producer, DJ, and music executive, and professor Young Guru was born.

Young Guru, born Gimel Androus Keaton, started his career as a teenager when he acquired the name he would later use as a DJ while teaching African history classes at a community center. He then went on to build a collection of microphones, lighting, and amplifiers throughout the early 90’s before attending Howard University. At Howard, Young Guru witnessed the early stages of Bad Boy Records and landed some of his early engineering jobs. From there, he was able to further catapult his career.

While DJing in Washington, D.C during the mid-90’s, Guru stumbled upon top 20 rapper/singer, Nonchalant, and became her tour DJ. He later engineered her 2nd album, following a six-month music-recording course at Omega Studios. Although that album never saw the light of day, something great came from this collaboration. The album’s producer, Chucky Thompson (member of Bad Boy Entertainment’s “Hitmen” production team), saw Young Guru’s potential and invited the budding engineer to work with him in D.C. However, in 1999 Young Guru went independent and headed to New York where he worked with another member of the Hitmen squad, Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie, as well as Roc-a-Fella artist, Memphis Bleek. This eventually led to Young Guru meeting Jay Z and becoming one of his most trusted engineers and Djs.

Over the years, Young Guru has been an essential part of many artists’ careers including those of Jay Z, Cam’ron, Ghostface Killah, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Ludacris, Freeway, Mariah Carey, Method Man & Redman, T.I., Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Pete Rock, Beanie Sigel, Talib Kweli, and Fabolous. He was also the tour DJ for Jay Z & Kanye West’s Watch the Throne world tour as well as Jay Z’s 4:44 tour. Today, Young Guru is the Director of Operations at 9th Wonder’s record label, It’s a Wonderful World Music Group, and has held the position since he was appointed in April 2015.

Although not necessarily a household name, Young Guru has earned his place as one of the most significant characters in hip-hop. In fact, the Wall Street Journal has dubbed him as “…the Most Influential Man in Hip-Hop You’ve Never Heard Of”. With major hits like 2011’s Grammy-nominated NY anthem, “Empire State of Mind” under his belt, it’s hard to disagree.

Happy Birthday Young Guru!

Written by Simo Haier