Young Guru, recently recognized in the Wall Street Journal as “the most famous and successful engineer in the history of hip-hop,” was the featured speaker at the TechConneXt Summit’s BE Tech Talk: The Intersection of Music and Technology.
Renowned for his expert mixing, audio engineering, and technical and artistic skill, Young Guru has been Jay-Z’s sound engineer for 16 years. He’s also worked with several other celebrated performing artists, including Beyoncé, Drake, Rihanna, and Common.
But the man born Gimel Keaton is also an adviser to tech startups, a visiting lecturer on college campuses, an artist-in-residence at the University of Southern California and, at heart, a student of life. Interested in technology from as far back as he can remember, and intrigued by the effect of music on people, he says tech has revolutionized his approach to music by giving him greater control and access while requiring less money. “I got ahead of the curve, when around 2000 I saw that the industry was changing to a digital platform,” he says.
A speaker with a commanding presence—perhaps ironic for someone whose work is heard and not seen—the former Howard University communications major spoke compellingly at TechConneXt. Here is some of what he said:
- Travel the world and you’ll see where there are problems and holes, and then you can develop solutions to meet those needs.
- Technology has affected both the creation of music and the delivery of the music.
- Radio stations are dumbing down the music.
- Technology has enabled me to go from creating two songs a day to having the capability of creating up to 10 songs a day. It’s affected my process—it allows me to make music faster and better.
- Live your life now. Shadow the people who are doing what you want to do.
- Develop the right morals.
- Cut your time on social media—live.
- I would not be where I am today without my Howard connections.
- I love learning. I am not afraid to humble myself. I am not afraid to say, ‘I don’t know.’ I constantly study.
- Choose vibe over money. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
- Own your own information.
- Understand your value.
- Don’t be afraid to work hard.
- Don’t practice ‘homeboy business’ or nepotism.
- Read the information. Train your people. Share with your friends how deals are made.
- We can use technology to connect different cultures within the African diaspora.
- We want to connect, but also keep cultures distinct. We don’t want everything everywhere to sound the same.
- Be proud.
- Be the change you want to see.
- Be proud of your intelligence and your desire to read.
- I talk to my friends about VC [venture capitalist] development.
- People need exposure.
For more about the Black Enterprise TechConneXt Summit, go to http://www.blackenterprise.com/events/techconnext/.