Any DJ who’s a diehard hip-hop fanatic would kill to be in DJ Z-Trip’s place right now.
The New York-born, LA-based turntable veteran is currently on tour with some hip-hop heavyweights on the “Kings of the Mic” tour.
The lineup goes like this: The night starts off with some quirky rap riffs from those hip-hop hippies De La Soul. Then, we get into the revolutionary rap of the still-mighty Public Enemy. After that, we get some West Coast gangsta rap from the one-and-only Ice Cube. Finally, the night closes out with some bona-fide, showstopping rhymes from the eternally hard-as-hell LL Cool J.
Z-Trip, who performs alongside LL during his set, says that he’s so focused on turning out a good performance each night, he hardly has time to stop and realize that he’s touring with the men who basically shaped and molded contemporary rap music.
“It’s funny, because the way I look at it, my work ethic sort of puts that aside at first,” says Z-Trip (real name: Zach Sciacca), on the phone from Atlanta. “The work ethic is to get the job done and get it to where it instantly sounds amazing and looks amazing and be amazing.
“And, then, once we’ve achieved that, whether it’s me solo or whether it’s me working with somebody else, once that’s out of the way and I know we’ve got a tight show ... then it sets in. It’s like maybe a couple of weeks after. That’s when you start realizing, OK, let me really step back from the actual product or the job and really sort of take it in.”
Then again, Z-Trip may have done the preliminary pinching-of-himself when he previously worked with these artists. Z-Trip has been collaborating with LL Cool J since 2011, when they did a set together at the South by Southwest Festival. Z-Trip also co-produced “Whaddup,” a track off LL’s latest album, “Authentic,” which also features Public Enemy’s Chuck D. Chuck D also did a guest spot on Z-Trip’s 2005 major-label debut “Shifting Gears.” And De La Soul jammed with him at “Z-Trip’s Revolution,” a residency he did at the Palms Casino Resort’s Rain Nightclub in Las Vegas.
“I’m lucky and I’m blessed and I’m honored,” he says of performing with these greats. “I’m humbled by it. But, at the end of the day, man, it’s also extremely validating to know that I’m up here with these guys and I’m bringing a bit of a new, fresh, different perspective because I’m the young guy. I’m the guy who just made it in.”
Even though Z-Trip is 41, which puts him in the same 40-something bracket as the rest of the artists on the bill, he didn’t get notoriety until much later in life. While living in Phoenix, he became a regular of the DJ scene there, often performing alongside local legends the Bombshelter DJs.
In 2001, he and DJ P collaborated on “Uneasy Listening, Vol. 1,” an album that featured mashup collaborations, uniting such unlikely pairings as Pat Benatar and the Pharcyde, Stan Getz and Afrika Bambaataa, and even Dr. Martin Luther King and the Eurythmics.
With that release considered one of the defining albums of the mashup genre, Z-Trip soon became known as an inventive, heavy hitter in the global DJ community. But Z-Trip is still a hip-hop head at heart, and while he may not be as old-school as the other artists on this bill, he knows old-school hip-hop quite well.
“I mean, it’s definitely a natural fit,” he says.
“I’m the last guy to be famous in this whole crew. But, as far as aesthetically and sonically, I fit right in. These are dudes that I grew up listening to when I was growing up at the same time, you know. It’s funny how our paths have crossed and, now, we’re all on stage rocking together.”