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.