DJ Rasta Root: The RAPstation Interview

A Tribe Called Quest has been all over the internet lately thanks to the legendary hip-hop group's recent appearance on Jimmy Fallon. Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Phife Dawg and Jarobi are also celebrating the 25th anniversary of their 1998 debut, People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. DJ Rasta Root (real name Dion Liverpool) has had front row tickets for the past 16 years as Phife Dawg's DJ. Born in Trinidad, he relocated to Atlanta where he found success on the radio, club, and corporate event scene. As accomplished producer, he owns a production label, Smokin' Needles Records, and has composed tracks for the Dallas Mavericks. He was hand selected to attend the Red Bull Music Academy in Rome, Italy in 2004, one of his proudest moments. Rasta Root talks getting his hands on hip-hop, meeting Phife and his latest endeavor, Smokin Shells, high mirror polish DJ turntable head shells. RAPstation (Kyle Eustice): Did you grow up in Trinidad? DJ Rasta Root: I actually didn't grow up in Trinidad. I was conceived there, then my father got a transfer to Fort St. John, BC in Canada. After living in Canada for a couple years, we started our trip around the world. Those countries include, Holland, Spain, England, Guatemala, Brazil, Japan, and Abu Dhabi. How did you get your hands on hip-hop? While we were living in Holland for the second time, I saw the video for "Rapper's Delight" so I begged my mom to buy me the 45.  A love affair was born. How did you meet Phife? I was asked by a mutual friend to come to his studio and record some scratches on a record they were working on together. I knew we shared a similar background, so we kicked it for a while and exchanged "Trini stories." From there, he reached for me to do a show with him six months later at The University of Maryland in College Park. What about your chemistry together jives? I think it's that common upbringing that initially bonds us. Then our love music makes us click on stage. But it all boils down to a mutual respect for each other and that's what really ties everything together. It's very apparent on stage when we are performing. A look or slight hand movement says so many things and we happen to get what one another are saying. I have been working with him since 1999, so that's 16 years. It's a business relationship between two brothers is how I see it. What are some of your career highlights? I think my career highlights to date are being selected to attend the Redbull Music Academy in Rome, Italy in 2004. Also, working with Phife and his interest in A Tribe Called Quest has been a hip-hop fan fairytale, in my opinion. Also, transitioning from being an active DJ to a product developer, with the launch of my product and company, Smokin Shells. There are a lot of DJs out there. How do you set yourself apart? I think keeping my sense of being at all times helps me set myself apart. I don't try to hard to separate myself too much because sometimes you end up being like everyone else. I am known for my selection and mix abilities, so I think that would be the initial ways. What's your favorite equipment? Technics 1200s, Rane 57 MK2, aiaiai Tma headphones, Butter Rugs, Smokin Shells headshells mounted with Shure 4447 cartridges. Native Instruments Maschine Studio. Protools, Logic. How did it feel to be in New York City for Fallon and the reissue of People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm? It was an amazing experience overall. I was so elated and proud of the guys. What they have accomplished in music is rare and should be celebrated. It was a lot of work, but I took a moment to thank God and take everything in. Do you think there's a chance for a more permanent Tribe reunion in the future? From a fan's perspective, I would love to say yes. However, the other side is I know how complicated it is and would hate to give any false hope. Let's just say my fingers and toes are always crossed. What are you working on now? Right now, I am putting a lot of my effort into developing Smokin Shells. It's my pet project. I am also heavily focused on Phife's next single "Nutshell" coming out in January on Smokin Needles Records. Then after that, his EP/album Give Thanks. What does the music you make mean to you on a personal level? The music I make is very personal to me. I don't have a high output so the few tunes I produce, I put my everything in it. I make sure to leave a piece of myself on the console. I feel that music is a language and my goal is to become fluent in it so I can communicate with the world. Please visit www.smokinshells.com, www.instagram.com/smokinshells, www.twitter.com/djrastaroot, www.instagram.com/djrastaroot & https://www.facebook.com/DJRastaRoot for information and to stay connected to DJ Rasta Root.