Rapper Ro seeks second shot at success
By Marcus Ma’at Atkins
During a recent web search on the song “Nikki,” by JMC and Ronin, this writer typed in NIKKI then St. Louis in a google search and the following info came up on Yahoo Answers:
YAHOO Answers 2 years ago
“I am looking for the name of a rap song between 5-7 years old in which the chorus says "I said Nikki". I think the song originated in St. Louis and I doubt the song is known throughout the entire US because I asked others in Kansas City and received puzzled looks. I really need to know the name of this song because I liked it and I want it on my iPod.”
Well, the only answer given from the only respondent was “It was Nikki by The Dream.”
And those in the know here in the STL, knows that wasn’t the artist.
Not even close.
The answer should have read as follows:
In 2002, JMC snd Ronin dropped a club banger called “NIKKI” that spun out of control on radio & clubs throughout the Midwest in 2002.
Ro performing at his Cd release party for his first solo CD, "63140" last March at Cusamano's.
According to JMC’s Facebook page, during “Nikki’s” popularity on radio, the two child hood friends moved over 30,000 units of their CD, “Out Da Blue” on JMC’s Out Da Blue label and quickly went back to the lab to work on the lead single for their second CD, “Block Party.” Even though the CD’s first single, “Hennessy, No Ice” was very promising, with about 1,000 spins due to bad management the CD was never released & the two parted ways.
But the experience made Ronin stronger. After changing his stage name from Ronin to Playboy Ro, he, along with his cousin, Ball, who was part of the Out Da Blue camp, formed Ball and Ro and produced three significant STL mixtapes: “The Evening Whirl” (2003), and “CSI St. Louis “ (2004) and “Rok Star” (2006). He also produced the full CD, “Da Commission” , a Best of Both Worlds type CD, with he and STL producer Fats of Live N Direct. Although the CDs made a dent in the STL, they got their most pub outside of ST. Louis resulting in steady tours of the southern region inlcluding Altanta and Miami and even working with boy band producer, Maurice Starr.
In 2007, Ro, along with his younger brother King David, formed the production company HayMaka Musik in 2007 produding other artists and hip-hop beats under the moniker Ethan Hunt. He also released his first solo CD, “Playboy Ro 63140” in July 2009 producing most of the tracks from it including the single, “Shakindat.”
Now, Ro is working full speed on his upcoming projects. OUTTOWN interveiwed Ro about his life, the hip hop biz, and the upcoming release of his second solo CD, “Prodical Son.”
OT: Where are you originally from?
Ro: I am from a small St Louis city called Kinloch, unlike most people both of my parents and all of my inlaws live there--grandparents, uncles and cousins alike. The house I was born in and lived in up until age two is now a barbershop on Lurch Street.
OT: What high school did you graduate from?
Ro: I started my high schools years at Cardinal Ritter and ended up transferring and graduating from McCluer Senior High.
OT: What was your first recollection playing music?
Ro: I got my start in music at birth. In the seventies, my father had a band called Steeping into Tomorrow and from what I heard they were great. He turned from band mate to booking agent in the late 70's early 80s. He used to book all the top artists around that time like The O’Jays, Stephanie Mills, the Commodores..... I was three-years-old the first time he let me play a drum solo during intermission of one of his shows. The song was “Burn Rubber” by the Gap Band. I’ve been on stage since then.
The album cover of his first CD.
OT: What song put you on the map here in St. Louis?
Ro: "NIKKI." Seems as if some people want to keep that the only song that makes the map, but I digress. “Nikki” came out of no where and it took a while to get it going but once it popped it was on. Came right back with “Hen, No Ice” and it was major as well.
OT: How did you come up with your that song?
Ro: Actually my homie JMC or JMC The HitMan came up with the track, the title and the song concept. He called me one night said he had just finished this crazy beat, he didn’t know what to call it so he saved it as “NIKKI,” a girl he had just gotten off the phone with. This was the time that Ying Yang twins were making a lot of noise and he was like, "Look we gonna go to the studio and just talk crazy over the beat. Ying Yang is getting paid and we gonna get paid just like them." I dint like the idea but I went with it and BOOM a year and a half later, GHETTO GOLD baby.
OT: How did you come up with your stagename, Playboy Ro?
Ro: Ro is short for RONIN, and I got the Playboy from the times we all would be out kicking it. I like girls, pretty girls and at that time I guess they liked me a lil’ bit so my boys started calling me playboy all the time and it just stuck from there.
The album cover of J.M.C and Ronin's "Out Da Blue," when Ro first started off in the STL hip hop game in 2002.
OT: Are you working on any projects? If so, what are they?
Ro: I’m working on my follow up to my first CD, “Playboy Ro 63140”(released July 2009) its called, “The Prodical Son”, that’s coming out May 11. I have productions on there by SP, Ethan Hunt(my alter ego) Ronnie Notch, King David, and I’m waiting on Tech Supreme to throw me one. I got guest spots by Nite Owl, Tef Poe, Young Slim, and Monty B, and the coldest singer I know, Fats. I also got appearances by The ST LOUIS legends LLC and MS KRIS blessed with that fire on the intro track.
OT: What instance in your life would be shocking to people to know about you?
Ro: Well I spent the first four months of my life in the hospital. I was born with a ruptured abdominal wall and the doctors didn’t expect me to live past 2 months old. Needless to say with a lot of prayer and hope I lived and I’m still here. I was a soldier from birth.
OT: What’s your thoughts on the state of St Louis hip hop today? And the state of hip-hop in general?
Ro: St Louis Hip Hop is looking good. I don’t want this to come out wrong but HUMILITY is a big lesson often learned the hard way. I was humbled a few years back, and I think with the closing of the radio station (100.3 The Beat) it has forced some people to take a step back and realize that we can be bigger than these lil’ clicks and teams. My city has more talent than any other city I’m feeling right now. From Tef Poe and The Force, and Nite Owldoing true real HIP HOP, to Yung RO and Shawty holding down the young rap crowd. I’ve watched AYE Verb and Hitt Man Holla kill these NY cats with the battle rap, its crazy right now. We got the best DJs like Nino, AJ, (Charlie) Chan, (Sir) Thurl, Quinn, C Note, Stan. These are some of the best guys to ever do it. We don’t have any unity though.
Ro on the mic.
OT: Who's the greatest rapper of all time?
Ro: Me!!! What the fuck kinda question is that? No, all jokes aside, 2Pac by far. He embodied what an MC is suppose to be. He could do any style and make you believe all of them. He could make you want to get into some gangsta shit, go get some pussy, run for President, feed the needy, visit your mother, and kill the government all on one album!!! Duse was a gifted artist and there will never be another.
OT: Which rappers are holding it down today?
Ro: Kanye West. Once you get past the dramatics and diva shit, Kanye holds it down on every song I’ve heard him on. He makes you think and he has passion about his MUSIC. His verses always are on point and he is a beast on the boards. He is a complete artist. I can’t get into too many cats now. I never liked neck bones. They never had enough meat on them for me and that’s what today’s rap is. A bunch of lil corny cats running around talking about shit they never did and never will do. You don’t have to have any talent anymore. Get a nice track, talk a bunch of nonsense and put the shit on YouTube, add a dance to it and boom your the next star.....BULLSHIT!!!!
OT: What advice would you give to a music artist who wants to get in the music biz?
Ro: Do your homework and believe in yourself. There will always be doubters, you have to have it in your mind that you are the best and act accordingly. Have your team together. I missed out on millions all because my team wasn’t strong. Get your business in line first.
Ro on the set of his first music video (with singer Kelli Rene') at Double Helix Studios last July for his single, "Shakendat" off his first CD, "Playboy Ro 63140. "
OT: What are your hobbies?
Ro: I love to make good music , play b-ball and kick it with my kids. Oh yeah if anybody wants to see in that Call Of Duty I’m there all day. Tag name IWISHAMFWOULD ps3!!
OT: What’s your favorite pig out food?
Ro: I get down with some fried chicken, that’s sounding real coonish I know but hit that with some spaghetti or lasagna, and some corn on the cob or my auntie's cabbage and you got a full blown goon on the loose.
OT: What do you see yourself doing as far as your music career within the next five years?
Ro: In five years, I’ll be laid back reaping the rewards of all this hard work I’ve put in. I’m happy with making money doing music. I don’t have to be a gazillionaire cause that’s when them Illuminati boys come looking for you. LOL!!!
For more info on Playboy Ro or on his projects go to
You can pick up his first CD, "63140" at www.amazon.com