UnderCover Presents – A Tribute to A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Midnight Marauders’

UnderCover Presents was founded by Lyz Luke in 2010 and has rapidly established itself as an inspirational collective that gathers musicians and artists from every facet of San Francisco Bay Area’s creative community. Since its founding, UnderCover has paid tribute to 14 albums, worked with over 150 local bands, and presented to over 35,000 audience members throughout San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley. UnderCover has won Best of Awards from SF Weekly, SF Bay Guardian, East Bay Express, and has also attained two (2) Mayoral Proclamations for Green Day and Sly & The Family Stone at their tributes. UnderCover has become a true public celebration of local music, which is evident by their sold-out shows.



The concept is simple, one distinctive band per song reinterpreting an entire classic album from start to finish. A selection committee decides on the bands to be included in the tribute based upon their locality, distinctive sound, established following, among a variety of other criteria. With each tribute, artists are highly encouraged to put their own sound and personality on their rendition. The result is a cross-pollination of cultures, musicians, photographers, filmmakers, writers and visual artists that doesn’t typically happen on one show bill, or for that matter even festivals.

This time around, UnderCover Presents is honoring A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Midnight Marauders,’ an album that bridged the gap between hip-hop and jazz. Given that the album just celebrated its 25th anniversary, UnderCover felt it appropriate to continue to introduce this classic record to new audiences. Not to mention that the messages embedded in this album continues to echo resoundingly as we witness all that is taking place in the world. The collective is collaborating with Starita as music producer for the album recording, based upon his deep production experience across a multitude of genres in addition to his relationship and last work with Phife Dawg and ATCQ. For the first time, UnderCover will be releasing a double vinyl to commemorate this tribute. Today UnderCover Presents shares the first cover for “We Can Get Down” by high energy soul rock band Royal Jelly Jive. You can listen on Soundcloud.

With this ATCQ’s ‘Midnight Marauders’ tribute, UnderCover has united 13 local bands from a wide range of genres, 7 MCs (including Gift of Gab, Lateef the Truthspeaker, Karega, Starita, RyanNicole, RAV-E Sandhu), over 100+ artists, 9 engineers, 5 music studios, and 1 vinyl pressing plant, to produce an album within 65 days, from pre-production to mastering. The result is a one-of-a-kind and unexpected soundscape of reinterpreted tracks for a mixed genre collection – Experimental Orchestral, World, Cumbia, Reggaeton, Latin Hip Hop, New Orleans Jazz, R&B, Soul, Indie Folk, Rock, Funk, Future Soul, Alternative Rock, Jazz, Electronic, Dance, Ghangra and Afrobeat.

UnderCover Presents: A Tribute to A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Midnight Marauders’ is out 4/26/19. 

A Tribe Called Quest Week will feature 3 shows, starting on Thursday, May 16 through Saturday, May 18, 2019 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, CA followed by an After Party at 7th West, Oakland, on Sunday, May 20, 2019. UnderCover will dedicate Friday as “Phifeday” in honor of Phife Dawg. Details are below, tickets can be purchased here.

PopMatters Premieres ‘The One’

The Grammy-recognized producer is gearing up for the release of his upcoming album with some other big names, including Jarobi White (A Tribe Called Quest) and Mamel (Los Amigos Invisibles). On his latest track, he’s teamed up with drummer and activist Madame Gandhi, vocal sensations Trent Park and Trevor Hall, and percussionist Christian Pepin of La Cuneta Son Machine fame.

On “The One”, Starita blends warm vocal interpretations courtesy of Park and Hall with a soundscape that relies more on building up tension. The juxtaposition feels naturally derivative of the producer’s unique background, showcasing multiple sonic and personal layers presented as a singular earworm that is sure to catch on with fans of hazy, summery synthpop.

Starita says that “the inspiration for this song stemmed from my wanting to create a piece that is reminiscent of the style of music that I listen to. So naturally, the song needed to have a deep groove, hits hard with live and electronic drums. The message is positive about deep love, connection, and partnership.

“There are so many scenarios in life that we go through; to have one person to call in every rise and fall is what this song is about. So, when it was time for the lyrics to come to life, my writing partner, Trent Park, and I asked the natural questions. Where do you go? What do you do? Who do you call if you are in need? These lyrics became the core of the song. We wanted that deep concept showcased in a pop, tropical soundscape.

“At the beginning, I had a vision of want a very specific female artist from an Israeli band to sing the vocals. All this flowed when Trent embraced the song and we arrived at the chorus which was big and explosive. At that point, it was clear that he needed to be the vocal lead. So while the song started out moody and was written from a dark place, Trent and Madame Gandhi gave it energy.”

Trent Park adds, “While the song has the element of thought in the lyrics, it also makes you feel good listening to it. It stands alone as a beautiful song, but the production takes it to another level. With the production having elements of Latin flair, tropical house style bass line, with pop centric topline, it appeals to a larger audience. We are very proud of the collaboration and excited to see our fans embracing it.”

2 GRAMMY Nominations For 56th Annual GRAMMY Celebration!!!!


After many years of hard work, 2 records engineered by Starita have been nominated by The Recording Academy for the 56th Annual Grammys to be held on January 26th, 2014 at Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA.

The first nomination comes in the Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative category for one of 2013’s funkiest and most celebrated records “Repeat After Me” by Los Amigos Invisibles. The Top Ten Billboard charting single “La Que Me Gusta” was also nominated Song Of The Year for The Latin Grammys. Needless to say, this was a big year and great honor for Los Amigos Invisibles and Starita.

This year’s 2nd nomination comes in the Best New Age category from the amazingly talented Laura Sullivan for “Love’s River”. Released on her own independent record label, Sentient Spirit, Love’s River boasts songs produced by Will Ackerman of  Windham Hill fame featuring beautiful compositions and instrumentalists from The Bay Area. Laura is no stranger to the industry having released 6 albums on her own and is a testament that if you are talented and driven, you can make your dreams come to fruition.

Congratulations to all nominees and be sure to watch the pre telecast to see who wins!!!!!

GrammyPro: The Role Of The Producer By Starita

The role of the producer is vital but most don’t exactly know what it means. Starita wrote a blog post on this very subject for GrammyPro and you can check it out below.

A lot of independent artists have asked me, “Do I need a producer?” I like to reply with a deeper question: Do you want your project to be as great as it can be? Of course, the answer is always affirmative on both accounts. As a DIY artist, you’re probably executing the thousands of tasks an artist needs to in order to make a living. Wouldn’t it be nice to focus solely on playing the music with the confidence that someone else is making sure you’re doing things right when you invest in your recording?

Artists work tirelessly to save money, write songs, rehearse, hire session players, and then go into the studio with the hope that their vision comes to fruition. As the old saying goes, hope is not a strategy. The producer’s job is to bring your vision to life – no hope required.

The producer can also oversee the recording process from start to finish, and can work with the artist, writers, session players, engineers, studios, and programmers to ensure the creative vision of the project is brought to light. The role of a producer in any project is ever-changing, and can consist of many different roles to make the project the best it can be.

Task Masters
To create the best recordings, a producer should be involved in the entire process of pre-production, recording, and mixing, and he or she may wear many hats throughout the life of the project. Depending on the artist’s needs, a producer can be heavily involved in all creative decisions, or they might simply act as a guide through the recording process. For instance, a singer/songwriter may only have a basic song idea and a vision of what he or she’d like it to sound like. In this case, the producer may be arranging, hiring session players, writing hooks, programming drums, and playing instruments. On the other end of the spectrum, a band may have songs and performances that are well arranged and tightly rehearsed, adhering to a unified vision. For them, the producer can be a voice of reason and experience to pick the best take or act as a liaison between the studio engineer and band.

A producer can fill various roles crucial to realizing the full potential of a recording. When looking for a producer, it’s important to have a chemistry with that person, and for both parties to have one thing in common: an unflinching drive and desire to do what’s best for the project. This is dependent on a particular producer’s skill set. There are a few different types of producers, but most blur the lines and have skills in all areas. So what are the types of producer?

The Gear Guru
There are producers that know the technical aspects of recording and can make certain decisions in the studio to get the overall sonic sound of the project by selecting mics, using mixing techniques, etc. This is useful in the case where you are going for a certain sonic quality that is very important to your vision.

The Partner In Crime
There are others who are players and songwriters themselves. They may dig a little deeper into the writing process and help with melodies, chord progressions, and arrangement. These producers are crucial when you just have ideas for song or sounds that to need to be worked through.

The Ears
There is also a producer type who doesn’t play an instrument or engineer, but who has a great ear, and talent for bringing the best out of people. They usually bring a different perspective since they aren’t making any decisions based on music theory or engineering.

Regardless of the producer type right for your particular project, it’s critical to be aware of how to craft producer/artist agreements that benefit all parties. For more, be sure to review our recap of the San Francisco Chapter’s Music Business Night School session on the subject featuring attorney Michael Aczon and A&R expert Jerimaya Grabher. In the meantime, consider focusing on your art and craft, and don’t forget to thank your producer for the work they’ve dedicated to their own.

Starita Tells How It All Started and Speaks About Bay Area Music Collective


Josh Almond of Music Life Radio talks with Starita about his musical journey, and his latest venture, a community based project called Bay Area Music Collective that aims at making The Bay Area a music destination again.

Music Life Radio is a podcast focusing on stories and interviews about and/or related to music, featuring all sorts of people including musicians, music industry insiders, and fans.

Check out the interview HERE!