Behind The Decks: DJ Rashida On Prince, Touring & More

Prince Paisley Park Celebration 2023
CHANHASSEN, MINNESOTA – JUNE 10: DJ Rashida performs onstage at the Prince Paisley Park Celebration 2023 at Paisley Park on June 10, 2023 in Chanhassen, Minnesota. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Paisley Park)

Rashida Gonzalez Robinson, better known as DJ Rashida, is a firm believer in manifestation. At the time, she was off a tour and working as a bartender to make ends meet. She was invited to play a show with the tour she had just gotten let go from, but she turned down the gig. Unbeknownst to her, Prince wound up at the show.

“In that moment, I said to myself, I should have just done that stupid gig,” Robinson tells Pollstar. “Because, if he would hear me and see me play, I don’t even know if he has a DJ, but if he had one, it would be me.”

Her moment came a few years later, around 2004, when Prince came into the House of Blues in Los Angeles while Rashida was spinning dance hall, Brazilian and disco.
“He came up immediately and started talking to me about the records,” Robinson says. “That’s how we hit it off, was talking about records… Sure enough, about a week later, I got a call from the people at House of Blues saying he requested me to play one of his parties.”

From there, Robinson’s career began to take off. She started connecting with other big-name artists, including Lenny Kravitz and Sheila E, who were both at House of Blues that same night she met Prince. She got a manager for the first time and also began to spin corporate gigs and private parties.

“Prior to working with Prince, I was very much in the underground,” Robinson says. “House of Blues was the biggest name venue I had worked at to date. So, after meeting Prince, it elevated everything … For 10 years, it was on and popping. He became one of my most beloved and dearest friends and mentors. …. My vision was pretty simple, it was just DJ. … But, what’s even more exciting about letting the universe do its thing, is that there was a lot more to it, which was really beautiful.”

Rashida says that one of the biggest challenges she faced coming up in the industry, outside of being a woman in a realm that has long been predominantly male, was that she had little interest in playing Top 40 hits.

“I had a lot of friends in the industry, and they all told me, ‘Rashida, if you want the high paying gigs, the Hollywood gigs, you really need to start playing Top 40,’” she says. “I was very much a purist in that I was playing what I was into. As a crate digger, I went through all these different phases … The stuff I was playing was for a very specific audience.”

Now, she works private gigs and corporate events often, and she’s also gone on tour opening for Bruno Mars. As a tour opener, Robinson tries to create a set that matches the vibe of who she’s playing with. For Prince, that meant playing his own songs that she knew he wouldn’t get around to that night, mixed in with some soul and funk. For Bruno Mars, she’s delved into ’90s hip hop and R&B.

While she got her start spinning vinyl, Robinson now hooks up her computer in order to access a larger library. She admits it’s easier than carrying crates of records everywhere, but she’ll still jump at the opportunity to spin vinyl when given the chance.

DJ Rashida has also headlined numerous venues across the globe with highlights including Jakarta, Indonesia, China, Australia, Lebanon, Ukraine and more. “Just places that you never get to go otherwise,” she says. “And, with everything happening in the world, some places you may never get to go to again. To me, those are the places that are special and I feel really privileged to have been able to play and see.”

Additionally, Robinson supported President Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012 by participating in DJs for Obama.

Now, DJ Rashida is represented by Sheltur Management’s Matt Shelton. Later this spring, she will be releasing a remix of Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” featuring one of her idols, Sheila E. The upcoming track comes full circle for Robinson, who also met Sheila E. that same night she met Prince.