HIPHOPDX PREMIERE – Explosive bi-lingual MC Deuce Eclipse (Zion I, Bang Data) has joined forces with Grammy Award-winning producer Starita for a new single called “Too Strong.” The track effortlessly brings two cultures together and allows Deuce to flex his bi-lingual prowess.
“I’ve always been a bi-lingual rapper,” Deuce tells HipHopDX. “My music is about non-exclusivity. It’s for everybody. It’s music without borders. It’s a universal worldwide sound in the way that it combines the cultures that I’ve experienced — Nicaraguan, first generation American, Californian, Hip Hop rapper, bi-lingual artist — and the message that comes through me.
“What’s resonant with me right now is going back to my Spanish roots and connecting with other parts of my community beyond Hip Hop — Spanish speakers, immigrants or just others that may not speak English in general. I want my music to be the voice for everyone in terms of what I do musically.”
Deuce adds, “‘Too Strong’ is about strength and positivity, in a way. In another way, it’s putting out there how we live around the system and survive in this country by uniting and coming together; being strong in our beliefs.
“As I look at my environment and the separation of families and what’s going on in the world, I work to balance the negativity that’s placed us and remind myself not to give up on humanity…at the end of the day, we are all good at heart.”
Deuce and Starita’s collaborative relationship stretches back years. In fact, Starita engineered Bang Data’s La Sopa album in 2012. Their chemistry continues with “Too Strong.”
“When the opportunity came up for ‘Too Strong,’ it just felt right to make this a bi-lingual track,” Starita explains. “Deuce’s ability to blend Spanish and English in lyrics is masterful. And considering that I love pushing the boundaries of genre-bending, collaborating with Deuce and making music that resonate across cultures is a natural progression.”
Both artists want fans of the track to feel good after hearing the song. It’s all about creating a mood.
“When fans listen to ‘Too Strong,’ I’d like them to feel that this music is timeless,” Deuce concludes. “I always like to create something that feels good but puts you in the mood. Making music is about the whole, not its parts. It’s not necessarily about the lyrics. It’s everything as one thing. It’s not just the voice.
“The voice is just one instrument. People forget that. I want people to realize that music is a vibration. It gets in where it fits in. There’s so many different vibrations in the world and this is just one of them.”
“Too Strong” serves as Starita’s fifth track as a solo artist, following “Rules” featuring A Tribe Called Quest’s Jarobi and vocalist Trent Park, “Lights On” with singer-songwriter, Trevor Hall, “The One” with R&B singer/songwriter Trent Park and “HUMAN” featuring Oakland-based MC RyanNicole.
HipHopDX Premiere – During the UnderCover Presents’ A Tribute To A Tribe Called Quest event in San Francisco earlier this year, Oakland MC/singer RyanNicole nearly stole the show with her effortless rhyming style and powerful on-stage presence.
2x-GRAMMY®/Latin Grammy recognized producer, songwriter and artist Starita — who’s worked with artists such as Childish Gambino and A Tribe Called Quest — knows this. So naturally, he recruited the explosive talent for his new single, “Human.” The Hip Hop/Tech House hybrid bursts with a sharp uniqueness, simultaneously delivering plenty of heart and soul.
“This track is especially relevant in this divisive time with the most divisive rhetoric,” RyanNicole tells HipHopDX. “It’s a reminder that despite the stark differences, we are all the same. The song comes through me and emerges from the beat. “As an activist, black woman and Oaklander, I can identify with this track. Everyone can connect as humans.” The Queen of Everything, as she’s sometimes called, isn’t afraid to take risks and step outside the Hip Hop box.
“I accept opportunities like making this track because it allows me to challenge and stretch myself,” she says. “Through my work, I hope to inspire others to explore; believing that Spirit is leading us and to not living in a box. TRY! LIVE! This collaboration is an example of me working with a producer that people wouldn’t normally see me with.
“Having worked with Starita on the last UnderCover project, I personally witnessed his talent, respect for the creative process and openness to doing things differently. I wanted to continue this collaboration as he pushes artists to do things that are out of their comfort zone. And I value these creatively challenging experiences. The list of artists he’s worked with is impressive. I want to be a part of his A-list of collaborators.”
Starita jumped at the opportunity to work with RyanNicole. He’s also a fan of the song’s message. “This song speaks to what it means to be human, to be ok with the range of our existence — the dark with the light, high with low, left and right,” Starita explains. “And more importantly, to realize the oneness of it all.
“If we could, just for a moment, live in awareness, we would realize that we too are all part of this whole and together as one family.”
Starita adds, “I’ve stopped forcing making music and instead let myself be guided by the message of the song and in a way, channel the spirit the song conveys through sound. My process is usually to take a simple rhythm and melody and make it expand, grow, evolve into something massive; a complex soundscape.
“Using classical elements/instruments and incorporating it with electronic music, allows me to take the listener on a musical and emotional journey and tell the story sonically.”
“Human” is the fourth track Starita has released as a solo artist following “Rules” with ATCQ’s Jarobi, “Lights On” with Trevor Hall and “The One” with Trent Park.
April 26, 2019 HipHopDX exclusively premiered the UnderCover Presents – Tribute to A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Midnight Marauders’ album. Check it out!
HipHopDX Premiere – A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders turned 25 last November, but the classic album is still celebrated no matter what day it is. Serving as ATCQ’s third studio album and follow-up to 1991’s The Low End Theory, the project bridged the gap between Hip Hop and jazz, much like Guru did with the Jazzmatazz series.
In honor of the Tribe masterpiece, the Bay Area UnderCover Presents collective has sewn together a tribute, the appropriately titled A Tribute To A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders.
Founder Lyz Luke explains to HipHopDX, “If there was ever a time to release a tribute album to A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Midnight Marauders,’ that time would be NOW,” says Lyz Luke. “In order to do this right and fully represent ATCQ, I knew we needed to bring in Starita as music producer, based upon his deep production experience across a multitude of genres in addition to his relationship and work with Phife Dawg and ATCQ.
“Apart from this album being released digitally, this is the first time in the history of UnderCover where we will be releasing a double vinyl to commemorate ATCQ and Phife Dawg.”
The 14-track effort boasts appearances from 13 local bands from a wide range of genres, seven MCs, over 100 artists, nine engineers, five music studios and a vinyl pressing plant. Blackalicious’ Gift Of Gab, Lateef The Truthspeaker and vocalist Gina Madrid are just three of the many whose fingerprints are on the project.
“When Lyz first approached me to work on this project, I instantly knew there were some critical pillars that we needed to uphold in order for this tribute album to resonate,” Starita adds. “Let’s be clear. This work is sacrilegious. This is a tribute album, not a cover album. This is already a perfect album. There’s nothing to re-make.
“To introduce this classic record to new audiences, our goal was to pay homage by pulling together the best of the best artists to make an album of re-interpreted songs representing the full breadth of the imagination that is ATCQ’s music.”
In conjunction with the album’s digital release, the Yerba Buena Center For The Arts in San Francisco will play host to three shows May 16-18 that will incorporate elements from all four pillars of hip-hop: DJing, MCing, graffiti and B-Boying (breakdancing), along with the minimalism and free-form nature of jazz instrumentation.
The city has proclaimed that week “A Tribe Called Quest Week” and will present Phife Dawg’s wife and other family members with “PhifeDay.”
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.”
Beyond his skills on the mic, A Tribe Called Quest‘s Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor was also a people-connector. While working on the last Tribe album, We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service last year, producer/engineer Starita (born Michael Starita) vibed with the Queens rap collective for “Dis Generation” and grew close to Phife’s manager and best friend, Rasta Root.
Amidst crafting his forthcoming six-track EP (due this fall), Starita asked Root if Jarobi White would rap on his new party record “Rules,” which also features singer/songwriter Trent Park. “I was like, you think Jarobi would be down to drop some bars on this thing? So [Root] connected us and that’s how it all started.” White was immediately pulled in by the up-tempo track’s melodic changes. “It was a departure from what I’m normally doing,” the rapper adds. “I was just hoping I wouldn’t mess it up. I just wanted to add my personality, a little New York street feel. I hope I accomplished that.”