The Rocks Off 200: Optimo Ram, Online Radio Jefe
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 previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.
Photos courtesy of Optimo Ram
Who? "If it ain't local, it ain't live!" That is the mantra of Ramsey Allred, better known in the community as Ram -- Optimo Radio's chief, founder and CEO. His father was a record store owner from Port Arthur and his mother is a fourth-generation Houstonian.
"I grew up in my dad's record store, All Records, and got an appreciation for music at an early age," says Ram.
He fell in love with Houston rap after discovering the Geto Boys, then a friend opened up a freestyle studio in King's Flea Market when he was 15, which led him into rapping. "I was a rapper for a while, like everyone else in Houston, and once the idea of the radio was presented, I decided to quit rapping and play a position," he explains.
Home Base: "My home base will always be Screwed Up Records & Tapes," Ram says confidently. "Big Bubb and Big A, along with DJ Red and the rest of the crew, they really showed me a lot of love and have provided us a home to keep things poppin' when faced with a tough situation. I will always be loyal to them."
Why Do You Stay In Houston? "Because I am Houston... Houston is me!" proclaims Ram. "The ideals represented by phrases like 'Clutch City' and 'Soldiers United 4 Cash' are embedded in my DNA. I represent the underdawgs, and despite all this new fly shit, Houston is a city of underdawgs. From our sports teams to our best MCs, it is who we are."
With that being said, Ram has let us know that he will be moving away from Houston next month in favor of Denver, Colorado. He vows to represent Houston and our underground scene properly in the new Wild West, and says Optimo Radio will still be going strong and actually adding several new shows soon. Stay tuned.
Good War Story: A late-night altercation fueled by pizza:
One time after a radio show, my buddy and I were leaving out of Late Night Pie and these four yuppie douchebags were attempting to beat up an old homeless dude for no reason. So me and my friend stopped them, and ended up fighting all four dudes and won.
They left walkin' down the street while we were standin' in the front tellin' them they were some hoes. I like to help people who most people don't give a shit about. Three days later the manager of Late Night Pie burnt that bitch down.
Story continues on the next page.
L-R: Ram and Big Gerb
Music Scene Pet Peeve: "AutoTune!" he yelps. "Don't send me nothin' with it, I ain't gon' play it. Get some damn live instruments, then holla at me!"
Five Desert Island Discs:
- UGK, Ridin' Dirty
- Scarface, Untouchable
- Geto Boys, Til Death Do Us Part
- Curtis Mayfield, Greatest Hits
- Steve Miller Band, Greatest Hits
Best Show Ever: RIP Tupac. Long live G-Funk.
"The weekend Tupac died in '96, George Clinton, P-Funk, and Bootsy Collins performed at the Arena Theatre and I had front-row seats," Ram says. "Bootsy dedicated "I'd Rather Be With You" to 2pac. I high-fived the guy in the diaper about 25 times."
Ram will be hosting the Da Mafia 6ix show this Sunday at Numbers, then heads to Austin's Empire Control Room August 7 for a show featuring Big Gerb and the League of Extraordinary Gz.
See the rest of the Rocks Off 200, and the Rocks Off 100's 2013 alumni, on the next page.
Meagan Chambers, Don't Gag Her Gorgeous Guitar Justin Nava, the Voice of thelastplaceyoulook Donnie Houston, Halftime Entertainment Chase Harris, Deep Cuts' Rather Deep Thinker Dave Callier, Grindcore Guitar God Mlee Marie Mains, the Heart of Hearts of Animals DJ Navo, Bombón's Boundless Body-Mover Breelan Angel, Dirty Little Secret Keeper Michael Dauzat, Sr., a Rabbi and a Hate Nick Greer, a G Among G's Chingo Bling, H-Town's Own Versace Mariachi Quenton Rockwell, Melody Man in the Shiny Darks Southerland Nights, An Army of Accolades Stacy Hartoon, Rudz's Punk-Rock Heir Apparent Bowen Lyons, Keeper of the Trimms' Groove Chris Gore, Electronica Guru of BLSHS John Alton, the Madness of Cosmic Bug Loaf Reko Trill, of the Almighty Trill Brothers Jo Bird, Bow-Caster of Fiddle Witch & the Demons of Doom DJ Nando1, Who Fights to Keep the Party Poppin' Randall Hopkins, Featherface Drummer and Brilliant Video Director Roby Deaton, Open-Mike Pocket of Cool Nosaprise, Hurrah! for the Blushing Bridegroom Tony Vega, the Big Easy's Barnburner Leslie Krafka, Onward Through the Fog Michael Anthony Shanks, Houston's Merry Shankster DJ Baby Roo, Vegetarian Hip-Hop Veteran Rachel Bays, Filming Them Softly Punk-Rock "Newcomers" Screech of Death Erin Rodgers, the Keys to Glass the Sky Alex LaRotta, Crate-Digging Fistful of Soul Brother Alycia Miles, Triumphant Soul Singer DJ Piam, Poison Girl's Bacon-Fat Funk Specialist Mister Insane, Host of The Insane Show Jake Rawls -- Kemo For Emo Is Back Santos Pastrana, Sound Engineer and DJ Ninja Heading Upstream with RIVERS' Chris Tamez DJ Dayta, Keeper of That Good Good Matthew Davis Buehrer, Runaway Sun's Globally Thinking Bassist Fat Tony, Third Ward to "BKNY" Noon, Rapper With a Lot on His Mind Matt Cash, Clear Lake's Cassette Tape Wailer Jason Smith, Alkari's Space City Rocker DJ Penetrate, All Lit Up in "Neon Lights" Catch Fever Is Catching On Renée Jonard, Princess of Noise Pollution Junior Gordon, Big Man With a Big Sound Chad Smalley, Blaggards' Barse Player Damien Randle, K-OTIX Man of Action Kevin Anthony, 45 Southbound Man DJ Good Grief Knows How to Have Fun Robert Kuhn, the Well-Traveled Islander Gunnar Cushway, Insko's Feel-Good Utilityman Mario Rodriguez, Tax the Wolf/Bang Bangz's Wonky Power Monger John Smith, Goodtime Continental Club Manager Dwayne Cathey, A Good Man to Scare People With Walter Carlos, Guitar-Punisher of Funeral Horse Ryan James, Putting Up a Good Fight John Cramer, Guitar Apostle of Project Grimm Big Gerb, Houston's Hongree-est MC Steven Higginbotham, Hard-Working Wheel Worker Alisha Pattillo & Her Swaggering, Soulful Sax Brandon Ray, Punk Rocker Turned Filmmaker/Animator The Excitable Boys of Another Run Flash Gordon Parks, DJ as Funky Professor DJ Main Event, Kratez Crew JumpOff Man Odd Hours and Back to Back's Hank Doyle Legendary K-OTIX Producer Russel "The ARE" Gonzalez Dylan Bryson Sings the Blues (Rock) DJ Damon Allen, R.O.C.O. Fellow Tom Lynch, New Kid On the Block Ashley Worhol, Goth-Metal Queen of Katy Joe Ortiz, Clockpole's Master of Nonsense Marzi Montazeri, the Man Dimebag Darrell Called a Bad Motherfucker John Salinas, the Beat Beast of Only Beast Homegrown Cowboy Crooner Charles Peters Adam Bricks, NYC Expat Metal Journeyman and Blasé Bassist Alan Hilton Kyra Noons, Houston's Reggae Sunsplash DJ AudiTory, the Maestro of LuvItMane The Nephilim Terror's Death-Metal Growler Danny Carroll Tommy Grindle, Guitarist of Square and Compass The Bailout Bureau's Mysterious "Bob Bovary" DJ Twinkle-Toes, Won a "Dick-Measuring Vinyl Orgy" With Two iPods Beanz N Kornbread, Gmail-Loving Production Duo You(genious), Party Crasher Turned Musical Auteur Daniel Alexander, Klein's Backyard MC
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