How young is too young to accomplish your dreams? For 11-year-old Michelle Rasul (DJ Michelle on stage), that number is really low. The world’s youngest professional female DJ in the world, Michelle lives by the idea that “Passion has no age, no gender.” She started DJing at 5. “I said, ‘I want to be a world-famous DJ, specifically a world-famous DJ, and six years later, here I am.” Now, she’s written a book about how she got there.
Michelle’s father Vagif (or DJ Shock) is one of her biggest inspirations. Watching him mix music and practice is what inspired her to ask for her own equipment and to set some massive goals for herself—”It’s my dad’s fault.” Love and passion were all she needed to drive her. “First of all, I love everything to do with music,” Michelle shared with us. “Second, from when I was small, I had this interest to be on a stage. Even before I became a DJ, I told my mom, ‘I wanna be on stage,’ and we went to these acting clubs for kids and stuff.”
Stories like these fill Michelle’s new book I AM DJ MICHELLE: How a Nine-Year-Old DJ Became a Global Phenomenon which she wrote with the help of her parents (and her dog). “My mom helped a lot, and my dad also helped, and my dog also gave a lot of advice. It was really fun.” This family team worked together over the last two years to bring us happy memories, DJ-ing basics, and inspiration in the form of this book. Michelle loves telling stories, and this book is filled with them, including some that she initially wrote as school assignments.
Michelle’s favorite story in the book is about her best friend. Her friend since she was 5, Michelle calls her “my first friend and my best friend.” This friend moved from Dubai to Russia, but she returned to surprise Michelle. “I heard the doorbell, and then my mom was like, ‘You can get it,’ and I’m like, ‘Sure. Who is it?’ My mom is like it’s one of my friends, and then I open it and my friend…standing right there. I don’t know. For like five minutes, I was just standing there. I couldn’t believe it.”
There is also a lot of DJ joy here. Michelle shared with us that DJing gives her a feeling she calls “excite-nervousness” because “I’m a bit nervous at the start and I’m excited. Then the nervousness goes away, and it’s so cool.” She talks about her biggest moments on stage (Michelle loves a large, “super hyped-out” crowd) like performing at the Coca-Cola arena and becoming the youngest DJ to compete at the DMC DJ Championships.
The DMC DJ Championships—”If you’re a battle DJ, you have to try it out. It’s super important. It’s like the Olympics.”— are what led to I AM DJ MICHELLE. She competed for the first time in 2021 among 85 other professional, adult, male DJs. If that wasn’t impressive enough, she got 14th place. After her success in the competition, she had many, many interviews, including one with NPR that put her on the radar of her publisher and set the project in motion.
At various times when we talked to Michelle, she shared her excitement over every detail of the book from the page designs (done in her favorite colors) to her love of writing. “I still can’t believe I have my, literally, own book!” The book is a celebration of Michelle’s journey so far and, of course, her career as a DJ which she said, ” I don’t see myself being anything—I have hobbies, but I want to continue doing this for my whole life.”
She loves analyzing the crowd (a “DJ superpower” according to Michelle and her dad) and picking songs to match their vibe. She loves the arenaline rush and the music and sharing it with others. Her current favorite songs to listen to solo? “Out of Reach” by boywithuke, “Nevermind” by Dennis Lloyd, and “Without You” by The Kid LAROI.
The book, like Michelle herself has been touched by major music icons. One of those icons, Wyclef Jean, wrote the Forward for I AM DJ MICHELLE. “I was so excited to meet him,” she said. “I actually got to perform with him on stage. It was so cool. He calls himself ‘Uncle Wyclef Jean’ to me. It’s so amazing. It’s so cool to have a friend like that.” In the Forward, Wyclef Jean explore how he was often called a young prodigy but didn’t know what that meant and how Michelle embodies exactly that concept. Incredible things to hear from one of your idols!
Above all, Michelle hopes people will be inspired by her stories. “Sometimes things go wrong and you try something and it doesn’t work, and there’s a lot of advice to like never give up and always believe in yourself and remember that passion has no age.” She highlighted a story of a friend’s 99-year-old grandmother in Uganda who walks every day and fulfilled her dream of wanting to learn to solve a Rubik’s Cube at 98.
“There’s actually a message I give all the time. There’s literally nothing impossible. Everything is possible. You should never give up. You should always believe in yourself. It’s never too early, never too late to start following your dreams. Passion has no age, no gender. You should just always believe in yourself…you are your main supporter…If others believe in you but you don’t, why are you even doing it?…You should always do what you love.”
Michelle’s autobiography I AM DJ MICHELLE: How a Nine-Year-Old DJ Became a Global Phenomenon is out now digitally an in print from major retailers like Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Apple Books.