Birth name Charles Misodi Njapa
Born (1976-03-05) March 5, 1976
New York City, New York, US
Genres Hip hop
Occupation(s) Record producer, rapper
Years active 1998–present
Labels GOOD Music, Decon, Locksmith Music
Associated acts Kanye West, Peter Bjorn and John, Kid Cudi, Consequence, The Pharcyde, Black Star
Website www.myspace.com/88keys

Charles Misodi Njapa (born March 5, 1976), better known by his stage name 88-Keys, is an American record producer and rapper from New York City.


Born in New York City to West African parents, he was raised in the Eastchester section of the Bronx and later in West Hempstead on Long Island, where he attended high school.[1][2]

88-Keys first took an interest in hip hop after hearing Prince Paul's production on De La Soul's 1989 critically acclaimed album 3 Feet High and Rising.[3] In the early '90's, 88-Keys met A Tribe Called Quest's Q-Tip, DJ-producer Pete Rock and producer Large Professor working as an intern at West Hempstead's The Music Palace recording studio. It was Large Professor who gave Charles his 88-Keys moniker after witnessing his skills on the Ensoniq ASR-10 keyboard.[4]

However, 88-Keys's parents were strict on education and less enthusiastic about his interest in the then-newly emerging cultural phenomenon of hip hop. Both of 88-Keys's parents are registered nurses, his brother is a doctor, one of his older sisters is a nurse and another sister is on her way to becoming a doctor. Upon considering a serious career in music, 88-Keys's parents and older brother began trying to point him into the field of medicine because it was a more "professional field" and the music industry didn't seem like a lucrative move.[5] After briefly attending Hofstra University and Queens College, 88-Keys dropped out to pursue his dreams of being a record producer. His decision was fueled by an opportunity to record some tracks with The Pharcyde who were recording in California.[6] 88-Keys currently resides in Harlem, New York with his wife and two daughters.

In addition to his passion for music, 88-Keys has expressed his love for fashion, most notably Ralph Lauren. During an interview with Metro 88-Keys revealed that he has worn Polo Ralph Lauren every day for 16 years.

I try to stay true to Ralph's vision. I don't want to bastardize his vision — no offense to the urban community — because we all know what happened to Tommy Hilfiger once the hip hop community embraced it. I'll walk out of the door dressed in loafers when everyone else is wearing Timberland boots. I definitely stand out. I'll tag along with Kanye on shopping trips and look at clothing by designers whose names I'd need to take French lessons to pronounce. He'll ask me what I think and I'll be like, whatever. I've turned down paying gigs because they've tried to dress me in clothing by other designers. Besides record shopping, the only other place I need is a Polo store. I'll go to Paris and they ll be like, 'here's the Eiffel tower' and I m like, 'whatever, where's the record store and the Polo store.[7]

According to the article, 88-Keys began wearing Polo Ralph Lauren as a Long Island high school student in 1992 when he developed a liking for its classic, preppy style. Since then, he's worn a complete look from the brand every day, without fail. His wardrobe includes over 700 Polo pieces.[7]

Since his days as an assistant engineer, 88-Keys has produced records for numerous artists including Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Kid Cudi, Macy Gray, Musiq Soulchild, Dejuan Lucian and Consequence. Recently, 88-Keys extended beyond his production credits to highlight his skills on the mic as MC, singer and collaborator, most notably on his solo debut album The Death of Adam released on November 11, 2008. Executively produced by 88-Keys's close friend Kanye West,[8] the concept album tells the story of a man named Adam who has been murdered in a loft apartment in Harlem.[9] In August 2008 a fifteen-track mixtape titled Adam's Case Files was released as a prequel to The Death of Adam. The album's first single titled "Stay Up! (Viagra)" was officially released through iTunes on September 9, 2008. In December 2008, 88-Keys was highlighted as Spin (magazine) Artist of the Day.[10] In 2009, 88-Keys worked in Atlanta with new female duo Addictive on a track for a forthcoming album.



  1. "Polo Ralph Lauren fits 88-Keys just fine". Los Angeles Times. November 23, 2008.
  2. "Cooking at Home with 88-Keys". First We Feast. July 8, 2013.
  3. "88-Keys Bio". Decon Records. Retrieved 2008-08-29.
  4. "88-keys: The Process of Making a Beat". Dork Magazine. Archived from the original on September 19, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-03.
  5. "88-Keys – The Piano Man". Serge Fleury. July 9, 2008. Archived from the original on August 2, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-07.
  6. "Solid as a Rock". Anthony Roberts. 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2008-09-07.
  7. 1 2 "Sticking with the Brand". Kenya Hunt. 2008-11-10. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
  8. "88-Keys "The Death of Adam" News Piece #2". Archived from the original on September 16, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-03.
  9. "88-Keys ft. Kanye West – Stay Up (Viagra)". M. Burmy. 2008-08-26. Archived from the original on August 29, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-29.
  10. "ARTIST OF THE DAY: 88-KEYS". Joseph Coscarelli. 2008-12-11. Archived from the original on December 17, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-29.

External links

Official sites
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