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    88-Keys Biography

    It was no accident, according to energetic music visionary 88-Keys. The 29-year-old producer would be the first to tell you that he was always going to make his mark in hip-hop and beyond. For 88’, who has showcased his eclectic studio prowess for everyone from socially conscious Brooklyn rhymer/actor Mos Def (Black On Both Sides, The New Danger) to platinum R&B singer-songwriter Musiq (Juslisen, Soulstar), creating music would prove to be his destiny. It is a path he knew he would take when he first heard legendary Prince Paul’s groundbreaking, mad scientist production on De La Soul’s 1989 classic 3 Feet High and Rising. “It made me look at hip-hop as an art” recalls 88-Keys. “Then I remember walking home from my 8th grade class and hearing A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘I Left My Wallet In El Segundo’ on a car radio. And I’m like, ‘What was that?!!!’ Hearing someone like Kool G. Rap was a wake-up call but De La and Tribe was a bucket of cold water. I knew hip-hop music was it for me.”

    Indeed, the kid born Charles Misodi Njapa in the Bronx and raised on Long Island, New York more than made good on his hip-hop ambitions. His early ’90s transition from eager intern to assistant engineer at West Hempstead’s The Music Palace recording studio insured that he would meet up with his heroes: A Tribe Called Quest’s charismatic front man Q-Tip; influential crate digger Pete Rock; and respected Nas producer Large Professor. It was L.P. who blessed Charles with his 88-Keys moniker after witnessing his budding skills on the ARS-10 keyboard. “I told myself if I ever make it in this business, that’s the name that I was going to use because I got it from one of the great ones,” 88‘ recalls.

    Over the years, 88-Keys’ distinctive brazen beats-meets-atmospheric production have appeared on a number of high-profile works including Blackstar’s 1998 underground landmark debut Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Blackstar (“Thieves In The Night”); the eccentric funk-rock of Macy Gray’s 1999 platinum plus How Life Is (“Why Didn’t You Call Me” Remix) and Beanie Sigel’s 2001 street-praised The Reason (“Watch Your Bitches”). It’s such strikingly diverse credits that have made the humble 88-Keys one of the most respected producers in the music game.

    88-Keys All Music Guide Biography

    Influenced in his teen years by Prince Paul's work on De La Soul's legendary album 3 Feet High and Rising, N.Y.C. native Charles Misodi Njapa became 88-Keys and made it his mission to become a hip-hop producer. First he became an intern and then an engineer at West Hempstead's famous recording studio The Music Palace, where he began networking and working with rappers like Large Professor, Nas, Q-Tip, and Pete Rock. The big break came in 1998 when one of his productions landed on the Mos Def and Talib Kweli album Black Star. The next year his remix of Macy Gray's "Why Didn't You Call Me" took things higher, and then in 2001 a track on Beanie Sigel's The Reason introduced him to Jay-Z and the Roc-A-Fella family. Work for the likes of Musiq (Soulchild) and the Pharcyde took the producer to 2008 and his debut full-length, The Death of Adam. Released by the Decon label, the album was executive produced by Kanye West and featured guest shots from Bilal, Little Brother, Kid Cudi, and Redman. ~ David Jeffries, Rovi

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