DRESSED TO KILL
These days in ‘clubland’ it’s all about the deejay. Go to any ‘it’ club and all eyes are transfixed on the deejay. Sure, they’re leading the party but nowadays the club experience is more like a concert, with all eyes facing forward, rather than just free-for-all dancing. And one of the hottest names on the scene is rising-star DJ Rashida.
Born in L.A, but raised in Atlanta during her high school and college years, DJ Rashida was named after the 1973 Jon Lucien album with the same name, so you can say she has soul and funk in her very DNA.
Known for her current popular Sunday night residency at Bar Marmont, Rashida paid her dues as house DJ at Temple Bar, and the House of Blues Foundation Room before coveted spots touring with the likes of Prince, Kelis and Cee-Lo propelled her to buzz artist status. Her time as DJ on “Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew” only furthered her street cred.
Having bought her first turntable in 1998 while at art school, Rashida confesses her original intentions were innocent enough. “I just wanted to be able to mix,” DJ Rashida says. “I was into the club scene in Atlanta and I was always dancing and out late.”
After college, she moved back to Los Angeles, noting, “L.A. has a special place in my heart.” Rooted in LA’s underground music scene, she was a self described “bedroom DJ” for three years. “Mixing was my little private joy in my bedroom. My friends forced me to play their parties.”
In Atlanta, DJ Rashida worked as a bartender but that would not be the case out west. “When I moved to L.A., I knew I didn’t want to bartend,” she explains, “and everything just fell into place.”
And that meant that the Temple Bar bartender soon became club DJ, eventually landing her own residency. Building a steady following led to a residency at House of Blues Foundation Room, which is where Prince discovered her.
“I still don’t know what happened,” DJ Rashida says about meeting Prince. “He was finishing his Musicology Tour and he was next door to the Foundation Room and I joked, ‘If Prince hears me play, I’ll be his DJ.’ At the time, I was playing Sly Stone, rare grooves and his band members dug it. And then Prince requested me to play one of his parties. We hit it off right away. He’s been a mentor, and one of my best friends.”
Life on the road with the Purple One has been quite the experience.
“We were in Australia and he got in the DJ booth with me and all the papers reported that he DJ’d,” Rashida says with a laugh. “In Minnesota, we did a DJ set, which I thought was awesome. I was DJing and he was on keyboards playing it like a drum machine and he was also on the mic.”
Tours with Kanye West, Kelis, and Cee-Lo followed. And now, her current residency is Sunday nights at Bar Marmont, in between club gigs all over the world, which leads to the question, is a club-crowd the same wherever she plays?
“It really depends where I’m playing and who I’m playing for,” DJ Rashida points out. “I have to feel the room and the crowd. Different strokes for different folks. But regardless of the club or music, a club is a club anywhere in the world. For me, it’s basically reading a room and gauging the people. At a club in Dubai, if I drop a certain beat and there’s no reaction, then I stop and think, what’s next? Crowds will always surprise you. You have to pay attention to the people. It’s an energy exchange.”
And how about the L.A. club scene?
“L.A. has some very different scenes,” DJ Rashida notes. “You really have to know where you’re going. You can’t just drop in somewhere; you have to know what you’re looking for.”
An extremely stylish and fashion-forward personality, DJ Rashida isn’t hiding behind her DJ booth; she’s looking good and demanding attention. “I’ve always loved clothes and style,” she says. “With DJing, I realized soon after I started playing that it’s a show I’m conducting. You should look nice and I enjoy dressing up. There’s a lot more that I want to do than DJing. I’m an artist and I make music. I’m cultivating those now so I can transition. I just want to add to my platform. I tend to go with the flow.”
When not leading the party herself, you may find DJ Rashida around town at some very cool spots. If she wants to dance, you’ll find her at the Deep, which just recently re-launched, or Club Called Rhonda. If she just wants to hangout, eat and drink, then the Chateau is the place, as is the reopened Teddy’s.
“I like a dark and sexy spot,” DJ Rashida confesses.
One recent gig was a party of President Obama, which meant she had to pass inspection from the Secret Service.
“They did background checks on me and my companion with a fine tooth comb. That was definitely a different level of security than I’m used to.”
While even the Secret Service couldn’t slow down her infectious blend of funk, hip-hop, soul, house and new wave, playing everyone from Prince to James Blake to Drake, Fela, Vanity 6, Sheila E, Biggie, Madonna, Outkast, Sade, Slick Rick, NWA, EPMD, and anything else that moves her, DJ Rashida is one fierce, dressed-to-kill DJ that will make you get up and dance!