Big Rue’s Legacy Continues
On September 8th, 2017, my twenty-fourth birthday, I did the first iteration of my hip-hop musical one-man show BABA & ME: A Young Man in Search of His Father in New York City at The Green Room 42 for family and loved ones living in the tri-state area. This performance was dedicated to my father who did not live to be twenty-four, like so many black men in America, and I wanted to share my birthday with him in a spiritual way. It was on this day that BABA RUEROB was born.
20 years ago, my father was murdered while driving home from the recording studio at 4 o’clock in the morning with his friend, Big Steve, in Southeast Houston. Both friends were prominent members of DJ Screw’s collective: Screwed Up Click and the loss of them had a huge impact on the hip-hop community of Houston. Think about the way Crenshaw cried for Nipsey Hussle. In a similar way, the sudden death of my father paralized Third Ward. At his funeral thousands of members of the community came to pay tribute to this community icon and now as his son twenty years later I get to walk in his shoes and relive this tragic event with a live theatrical production that premieres in Houston November 14th-16th at MATCH.
In the opening act of BABA & ME: A Young Man in Search of His Father, I have the honor of transforming into my father, Big Rue, during the years of 1993-1999. I travel back in time to give audiences an insider’s perspective of one of the most powerful men of Houston in the 1990s. While I resemble him in many ways, it took me two years to fully craft and develop his character and public persona in a way that invites his true essence to the stage. In the eyes of an outsider one might categorize my father as a drug dealer, college dropout, gangsta football player, or hitman who made bad decisions that lead up to his death. For me, I knew my father to be a faith-based family man with a hustlers mentality. His walk, body posture, speaking patterns, and energy were so different from my own persona partly due to the fact that in drama school at NYU I was instructed to eliminate all regionalisms that I developed during my childhood, early teens, and young adulthood in Texas.
For the sake of Big Rue’s legacy, I had to relearn all the things that I distanced myself from and bring his flavor to audiences that have never heard his name.
Returning to Houston to portray my father on stage has been healing and therapeutic experience. BABA & ME has given me the opportunity to reconnect to my community, employ local artists of Houston, all while keeping my father’s legacy alive while also mourning his death in a healthy artistic medium. At five years old, I was robbed of room to really grieve his death and 20 years later I have committed full-time to recreate, reimagine, and remix the life of Big Rue.