Starita Debuts 'Rules' Feat. A Tribe Called Quest's Jarobi White & Trent Park: Premiere

Tam Starita


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." 

Starita and Jarobi also trekked to St. Albans in Queens, ATCQ's stomping grounds, for the video. "The director, Frank Door, is doing all these things to break the rules visually so there’s sideways rooms, weird stuff going backwards and forwards so something that really just f--ks with your head a little bit," explains Starita. "I wanted to give respect to Queens and Tribe in video so that’s why we went down to Phife Dawg Way." 

The collaboration also comes in the midst of Rasta Root and Starita working on Phife Dawg's forthcoming posthumous solo effort titled Forever. Reflecting on the Five-Foot Assassin's last days in the studio before his death last March, Starita and Jarobi note that he "was in great spirits," adding, "He was tearing it up on the mic. He just came in the studio, firing on all cylinders." 

Starita also recalls the final record Phife recorded. "One thing that was a little strange was the last track that he recorded was called 'Forever' and he basically starts from when they were kids, talks about growing up and the whole story of Tribe. He basically just apologizes for bumping heads," says Starita. Jarobi admits he cried for a day and a half after listening to the song. "It’s like he wrote a goodbye letter to me, Ali [Shaheed], Tip -- individually -- and the fans."

A release date for Phife's Forever is yet to be announced, but the pair assure that the project will keep his legacy intact. "[Rasta] Root is definitely going to make sure none of this shit goes sideways," explains Jarobi. "How Phife delivers and his presence on whatever he does, doesn’t really need to be tempered with too much. You can’t really f--k it up because he’s giving you all that you really need."

Jarobi also reveals that he is working on a solo effort with no features. "It’s like a window into me," he says. "I’ve always been the mysterious fourth member. People always ask, 'What’s his contribution to the group?' I think once I release my solo album, a lot of those questions will be answered." While no release date is attached to the project, Jarobi says he's wrapping it up soon. 

For Starita, his upcoming EP will blend both deep cuts with party tunes as he aims to go beyond genre barriers: "A lot of the songs are not following conventions, making sure we do what’s right for the song and not trying to squeeze it into any confines."

Listen to "Rules" below.