Sitting behind the glass of Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama, Starita is honored to record in a city he considers sacred ground for music. According to legend, the Tennessee River, which flows through Alabama, was called “the Singing River” by the Yuchie tribe because they claimed the breeze whistling over the water sounded like a woman singing. “It’s the philosophy behind why it’s such a musical city: there’s a spirit about this place, something you can’t put into words,” Starita told Noisey while discussing the new song. , “The Wake Up Re-Call”.
The multi-talented Mississippi-born artist and songwriter’s discography demonstrates his experience and flexibility in songwriting, with collaborators ranging from Childish Gambino and A Tribe Called Quest to Christian Scott, aTunde Adjuah, Madame Gandhi and The Invisible Amigos. As an artist, producer and engineer, Starita has played many different roles on both sides of the glass on dozens of records.
Tracing “The Wake Up Re-Call” back to its early days, Starita said DJ Rasta Root – the late rapper Phife Dawg’s longtime manager – was instrumental in creating it. “I was working on the last Tribe Called Quest album, We got it from here… Thank you 4 Your service, then Phife and I started working on his solo album,” Starita said. Phife Dawg died two days after completing work on the track for the album “Dis Generation” in 2016. “I recorded his last record,” Starita said. “So that blossomed into a deeper relationship with the Tribe Called Quest family.”
“The Wake Up Re-Call” first took the form of a slow, lonely instrumental by Starita and Trent Park released in 2021, aptly titled “The wake up call.” The track was transformed by friend and Starita collaborator Otis McDonald earlier this year. McDonald, producer and multi-instrumentalist, reloaded the record with infused swing and breaks, making it a soulful hip-hop instrumental track. The recording then went to Rasta Root, who invited a trio of rappers to the studio to add verses: Zay Bcuz, NicXand Illa JDetroit singer, producer, rapper and younger brother of J Dilla.
“It’s amazing what Otis has done with the record,” Starita said. “I never could have imagined it would evolve into this.”
But Starita added that he didn’t refer to the new recording as a remix because he said the process “turned into something so collaborative and different.” The verses each bring specific angles and meaningful prose from the featured rappers, which flowed effortlessly over McDonald’s warm and soulful approach. Illa J sets the tone insightfully with the first verse, Zay Bcuz brings his focus and flexibility to the second verse, and the tight dexterity of NicX raises the last verse of the song.
The collaboration for “The Wake Up Re-Call” was born from seeds planted over the past decade, which took root in the same recording sessions that immortalized Phife Dawg’s final lyrics. The clip, fittingly, came to life in a packed club in Atlanta during a party listening to Phife Dawg’s posthumous solo album, For all time, released in March. Rasta Root has given artists permission to film “The Wake Up Re-Call” music video at the LP listening party. It was a fitting homage to the hip hop cycle: it doesn’t die; it is continually reborn.
Today, after decades of collaboration and history across a wide spectrum of sounds, Starita said they are focused on maintaining a beginner’s mindset. “If you think you know how something is supposed to be, you can’t explore and drop the mind,” he said. The words he found to describe his philosophy to music were rooted in spirituality. “Curiosity and the art of the power of consciousness,” he added. “Art constantly tries to imitate reality. Being curious starts all this exploration. The curious nature of questioning and the nature of making art are linked. You can’t separate art and consciousness, that’s where it comes from.
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