Recap: Art Of The Craft With Ken "Duro" Ifill

Jacqueline Smiley |

  • The Recording Academy
    Ken "Duro" Ifill
  • The Recording Academy
    Ken "Duro" Ifill speaks to the crowd at Jungle City Studios
  • The Recording Academy
    P&E Wing Co-Chair Scott Jacoby, P&E Wing Committee members Chuck Zwicky, Ken "Duro" Ifill, and Joe Mardin
  • The Recording Academy
    P&E Wing Co-Chair Scott Jacoby with P&E Wing Committee members Joe Mardin and Chuck Zwicky

On Wednesday, July 22nd, The Recording Academy’s New York Chapter alongside the Producers and Engineers Wing presented Art Of The Craft With Ken “Duro” Ifill. The GRAMMY-nominated mix engineer and CEO of Desert Storm Records stopped by Jungle City Studios, located in the beautiful New York City neighborhood of Chelsea, to share his expertise and demonstrate his “must have” studio tools.

For the past two decades, Ken “Duro” Ifill, a native New Yorker, has been the mix engineer behind an ever-growing list of influential rap, hip-hop and R&B music. His extensive discography includes music from LL Cool J, Mary J Blige, Beastie Boys, Jay Z, Nas, Ghostface Killah, Erykah Badu, Mobb Deep, Ashanti, Will Smith, John Legend, Jennifer Lopez, and the list doesn’t stop there. As CEO of Desert Storm Records, he is a driving force behind the successful careers of many artists; executive producing several Fabolous LPs and producing hit records for Mya and Mariah Carey.

The Beastie Boys nicknamed Ken “Supa Engineer Duro” for a clear reason. His powerful insight and focused dedication shined through as he kindly took the time to speak to a packed house of GRAMMY members at Jungle City.

Ifill discussed in great detail his humble beginnings, passionate work ethic and road to lasting success. The session was split into two groups where members got to ask Ifill questions and hear quintessential facts about the industry, his technique and his approach to the craft.

He further explained that he not only fell in love with the technical aspect of mixing, but also the creative process behind it. His approach is about feeling and furthering the emotion and idea behind what the composer, producer and/or artist is trying to convey with their music; “If you hear it and it makes you feel a certain way you put that energy and emotion back into it.” He regaled the crowd with the story behind catching his first big mixing break; working with GraveDiggaz, their 44 hour session at Platinum Island Studios, and rising to the occasion when no one else could. He then explained how he achieves his trademark low end that has graced several records such as Nas’s It Was Written, Jay Z’s Vol.2… Hard Knock Life, DMX’s It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot and Ludacris’s Word of Mouf.

Ifill concluded with the importance of balancing the business side of being an engineer. He gave examples of how to market yourself and your “brand,” and how one door can open another. Specifically, he talked about working with Trackmasters and leaving a lasting impression on his clients. He brought it home with crucial advice on the importance of cultivating and maintaining close relationships with clients and peers.

After the event, members had the opportunity to mingle with Ifill, P&E Wing members and the New York Chapter staff. Events at Jungle City are always highly anticipated as a great opportunity for Recording Academy Members to learn, ask questions and network (it doesn’t hurt that the studio is absolutely stunning). The event was moderated by New York Chapter Governor and P&E Wing Co-Chair Scott Jacoby and was a huge success! Ken “Duro” Ifill was a joy to engage and listen to; his energy inspirational and his advice priceless.

We would like to thank Jungle City Studios Owner and P&E Wing Steering Committee Member Ann Mincieli for hosting us. Thanks to everyone that came out to the event, see you at the next one! 


Jayrmelvin's picture

What a great experience,I traveled from out of state for the event. Can we do more things like this in D.C. ?

New York Chapter's picture
New York Chapter

Glad you had a great time, Jayrmelvin, you can head to our D.C. Chapter page to check out what programs and events they have coming up -

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