A good engineer is more than just a person who moves faders and adjusts microphones; a good engineer is someone who understands how to realize both the producer’s vision and the artist’s sound. But a really good engineer is someone who can bring their own artistic and creative vision to the session in a way that results in a better record.
Undoubtedly, Gimel “Young Guru” Keaton belongs to this elevated class of engineers. As the man behind the iconic sound of Jay Z, and having worked with the likes of Beyonce, Drake, Rihanna, Rick Ross, Snoop Dogg and others, Young Guru has become, arguably the most influential man in hip hop you’ve never heard of.
In this conversation with Ableton’s Jesse Terry, Young Guru discusses how his approach to making records allows him to move fluidly between the roles of co-pilot, audio specialist, and even musician, and how today’s engineer can (and should) be so much more than a technician with good ears.