With apparent influences of Pete Rock, Jay Dee, and DJ Premier, Culver City, CA, DJ/producer Presto (real name Christopher Douglas) consistently stayed true to his soul- and jazz-inflected formula of boom-bap beats to make a name for himself. Despite being born and raised in Houston, TX, Presto's New York state of mind had him playing his favorite records by Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Gang Starr, and Mobb Deep when he first began to DJ in 1992. About four years later, he graduated up to producer status, purchasing his first ASR-10 keyboard, and made beats for various local groups of which he was a member. Presto's first record, the self-pressed EP Breakin' Concrete, came in 2000 and featured the underground cut "Relax Your Mind," which DJ Mark Farina grabbed for his hip-hop/house mix CD Mushroom Jazz, Vol. 3 (2001). More interest in the record on the West Coast gave him the courage to relocate to the Los Angeles area and launch his record label, Concrete Grooves. In the years following, he hit the underground scene with a flurry of releases, including the Calligraphy EP (a collaboration with Cali MC Lowd) and largely instrumental album Jazz Juice in 2002; Inflight Instrumentals in 2003; and Next Impressions in 2004. Finding opportunities to develop other artists, he crossed paths with defected Black Eyed Peas vocalist Kim Hill, and his label pressed up her Right Now 12" single in 2005. After the Magic LP arrived in 2006, he spent a couple years building his reputation and making connections with several reputable artists in underground hip-hop. Distributed via Fat Beats, his 2008 album, State of the Art, boasted many guest appearances, among them Sadat X, C.L. Smooth, Fatlip (of the Pharcyde), and Large Professor. ~ Cyril Cordor
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