Gimel “Young Guru” Keaton, Jay-Z‘s close friend and longtime sound engineer, recently visited South Africa to launch the Young Guru SAE Scholarship, a collaborative effort with Cape Town’s School of Audio Engineering.
Beginning next year, Guru will work closely with the school to select one student annually to receive a R60,000 (approx. $7,000 or £4,500) scholarship to support their sound engineering training at SAE.
“International hip-hop is definitely the next big thing, the time is ripe for international artists,” Guru explained about his reasoning behind establishing the scholarship, according to Okay Africa. “Things like language barriers are actually irrelevant. … We will be looking out for something that is innately you; I’m not looking for the next Jay-Z.”
Guru says the scholarship is an extension of initiatives already established in the U.S.
“We just thought to expand and connect internationally, and facilitate an infrastructure for the development of the hip-hop scene,” he said.
The award is only for those serious about pursuing a career in the field, so there will be a vetting process put in place.
“A lot of people think it’s a glamorous profession, but then when they get into it they drop out because they realise it’s not for them. So we have a screening process to find the really passionate people to short-list,” Trenton Birch, SAE’s Head of Marketing, explains to Cape Town’s Times Live. Once the short list is selected, Guru will help the school select a winner.
Along with SAE, the scholarship is also supported by Cape Town’s Heal The Hood, an organization whose mission is to “create a sustainable network of youth artists nationally and internationally through which jobs and new skills are created, arts products and arts-related information can be distributed,” according their website.
Along with audio engineering and music production, the SAE Institute also offers studies in animation and digital film production.
The recipient of the inaugural Young Guru SAE Scholarship will be announced next year.
While in Cape Town, Guru also hosted a pair of workshops at which he “imparted his technical knowledge and advised the young people in attendance on how to break into the music industry,” Birch told ProSystems. He also shared stories about his childhood, how the legendary Jazzy Jeff got him interested in DJing, and explained that his role in Jay-Z’s creative process involves more than just engineering.
Guru also had live gigs in Johannesburg and at Cape Town’s Zula Bar featuring local MCs and DJs including duo Ill Skillz and DJs Ready D and Azuhl.