The Rocks Off 200: DJ Baby Roo, Vegetarian Hip-Hop Veteran
Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See the original Rocks Off 100 at this link.
DJ Baby Roo, who grew up mostly on Houston's Northside, introduces himself as "Ruben Jimenez, family man, sibling, corporate citizen and every so often, a DJ." He says he was surrounded by breakdancing, punk rock, New Wave and skateboarding, and although he couldn't breakdance himself, "I did always love the music everyone was breakin' to." Starting out with punk Baby Roo says he tastes began leaning towards hip-hop once he heard Eric B & Rakim's Follow the Leader.
Photos by Marco Torres
"That album is what cemented my dedication if not intervention-worthy addiction to hip-hop," he admits. "I would go to sleep listening to that tape every night till it popped."
When his brother began spinning records as DJ Shawn Jay (formally DJ Lord Vishnu), he started to bring home lots of records. Through him he met Bilal 9, who Baby Roo describes as "the host of a militant radio show on KPFT." He says he asked Bilal why he always had two copies of every record, and through that met another DJ, Frosty Ice, who was the vinyl supplier.
"I knew it then, this DJ thing, I wanted that," he says.
"Then came time to choose a DJ name, and I couldn't think of one," Baby Roo continues. "My man Blue had the idea for me to use 'DJ Brother Roo,' and that worked for a bit. Then it got shortened to DJ Roo. Now DJ Baby Roo is what I have been billed as, so I just accept it and embrace the fact that I am the world's oldest baby."
Some of the people who helped him starting out included DJ/promoter Matt Sonzala, who gave Baby Roo his first job at the "Hip-Hop Coffee Shop" at Hoi Polloi on White Oak; The Legendary K-Otix; DJ Cipher, "who was and continues to be very nice to me"; Reko Trill; DJ Sun, "who helped me out by giving me a place to live"; ex-Soular Grooves co-host DJ Theory (now Jaekim); and Gracie Chavez, who "helped me get my start writing record reviews in the dying days of Public News [and] also led to me writing for Urban Beat."
Home Base: Baby Roo says he practices mainly at home, "in an odd little room attached to my bedroom that has a window that fits my setup perfectly." That's where he has been known to "get/force DJ Remix to practice eating vegetarian food." He says he'd like to practice more with Def Perception and Walter Mallone at Francisco's.
Baby Roo has also worked for law firms since 1998, currently at one across the street from MKT Bar. He is heavily involved at events surrounding the Lee & Joe Jamail Skatepark, including the Sk8 & Rock concerts.
"I perform whereever Def Perception, Walter Mallone, Jawwaad Taylor (when rapping solo) or myself (as a DJ) are invited to do so, within reason," he adds. "Please feel free contact me about all four, as we are open for business."
Why Do You Stay In Houston?: "I love my city," Baby Roo says. "I love the hustle mentality that permeates throughout the community. There is also something very nice about being out and about town and running into people you know -- it makes the city feel smaller in a good way.
"Now we just need a place, as my man Blue says, where fans of hip-hop can go to buy reasonably priced pitchers of beer, grub and listen to good DJs play music, where new-school and old-school can congregate," he adds. "That's all that's missing."
Story continues on the next page.