University of Houston-Downtown’s (UHD) Student Activities Night will be presented at Discovery Green’s Fondren Performance Space on Thursday, May 17. Ruben “DJ Baby Roo” Jimenez will take the stage at 7 p.m. followed by Houston rapper, Slim Thug. The event kicks off UHD’s summer Thursday Concert Series in partnership with Discovery Green.
The event is free and open to the public. UHD students should register here to receive a ticket for light refreshments, a beverage and dessert, while supplies last.
The tastes and talents of DJ Baby Roo, who grew up on the North Side of Houston, come from a heavily hip-hop influenced background. In between DJ-ing around Downtown and being a big part of the local Houston art scene, DJ Baby Roo found time to answer a few questions with UHD News.
UHD News: How did you get your start DJ-ing?
DJ Baby Roo: First off, my DJ name is a derivative of what my family called me growing up. They would call me “Baby Ruben” and my dad’s middle name is Ruben so they called him “Big Ruben.” So, when I started DJ-ing, I just dropped the “ben.” My brother was actually the one that initially had turntables and I would practice when he wasn’t around. There was also a DJ named “2Pat” who would let me get some sets in as well as other DJs around town. I started doing some radio spots on KTRU and KPFT then moved on to bars and clubs in the 1990s.
UHD News: Do you prefer to highlight old school classics or introduce people to new artists’ styles?
DJ Baby Roo: I do both. Since I’ve been DJ-ing for so long, the classics are easy. But every weekend, I’m at the Commoner at 410 Main St., and I’m playing all modern hip-hop and rap. That’s because you play to the people to make them happy. It’s about their experience and I think a lot of DJs can easily get it confused and think that everyone is coming out to see them when really we, as DJs, are in the service industry.
UHD News: What is one of your favorite experiences while DJ-ing?
DJ Baby Roo: I had the opportunity to create the set list for Raekwon the Chef who is part of Wu-Tang Clan. He’s someone I’ve admired as an artist for a long time. He apparently has a photographic memory. After briefly looking at my set list, he verbally introduced every song that I played during the show. It went off as if we had rehearsed it several times before. So not only did it feel great to be on stage with someone who was such a legend in the game, but also at the time my kids were in the crowd so they got the chance to see what I do.
UHD News: How do you get ready for a show or wind down after?
DJ Baby Roo: What I like to do before a show is listen to everything else except rap or hip hop. Kate Bush’s “Aerial” album, Cocteau Twins’ “Four Calendar Café,” Emiliana Torrini’s The Colorist Orchestra are some of the things I listen to as a sort of palette cleanser. Afterwards, I throw on something instrumental or acoustic and slow for the car ride home. I like to listen to Poi Dog Pondering, anything R&B, and one of my favorites is Ryuichi Sakamoto’s “BTTB.”
UHD News: What else are you passionate about outside of DJ-ing?
DJ Baby Roo: A few years ago, I started the record label Roo-logic Records. I got a collective of artists that I’d worked with and liked together all under the same umbrella. I used it as a sort of social experiment so that all of these local artists would not only promote themselves, but also each other to build a better sense of community. I wanted to show how things can work if everyone is pushing everyone as hard as they are pushing themselves. Right now, we have Giant Kitty, whose last album I produced. It’s given me opportunities to do these dynamic things that don’t pigeon hole me into hip-hop or rap because I truly love everything!