Rocsi: Mami On A Mission

Most only see the sun-kissed skin and the camera friendly face. For others, it’s her intimate knowledge of cutting edge hip-hop music that attracts them to her and one of the highest rated shows on the BET network, “106 & Park.” There are also the intrepid few that have gotten past the fact that she and fellow newcomer Terrence “J” Jenkins replaced the most recognizable duo on the said network, and have begun to know and love her for her. It’s tough when you’re as talented as Raquel “Rocsi” Diaz. That being said, The Buggles’ song, “Video Killed The Radio Star,” couldn’t have been farther from the truth in Rocsi’s case. were privileged enough to sit down with the radio star who BECAME the video star. Read on as she outlines everything from her modest beginnings to her current successes; her “beefs” to her take on Hurricane Katrina. This is Rocsi doing what she does best — telling it straight up. One thing’s for certain: mami’s on a mission. It has been an incredible turn of events for you — no, rather an incredible escalation of events. You were the “Midday Mami” for Chicago’s Power 92 before making the jump to BET’s “106 & Park.” Tell us about the major differences — good and bad — between the two.

Rocsi: Well, there’s a lot in common between radio and television. Knowing the artist and their music when they come, having good interview skills and all of that. Radio was a good background for me to have and plus I love doing radio. The only difference really is: with radio I could wear sweats and go to work. You gotta get all cute for TV. That’s really the only difference I see, you know, having to step it up, look presentable for television. I thank BET because I was totally not a “girly” girl before BET, so I kind of care more. Terrence says it all the time, but you’re KILLING them with those outfits.

Rocsi: Shouts go to my stylist; she tries very hard to get me where I need to look good. I try to stick to things that people can find anywhere, you know? It’s stuff that I like to wear. But it doesn’t look the same on THEM though.

Rocsi: (laughs) Awww…Come on now! On your account you mentioned that you left with no explanations or goodbyes given. Is that something you can talk about with us?

Rocsi: My schedule was so hectic, you know, because I was really trying to do both. And being on a show back in Chicago and doing New York time, it really was getting hard, physically and emotionally for me. I really wanted to do both, but I couldn’t. I didn’t really get a chance to say goodbye and explain because, you know, you have your following, your audience and they feel like family to you. So I really regretted not saying goodbye, but in radio, when you’re gone, you kind of disappear and everyone’s asking like, “What happened?” But it’s cool. I always get emails from people from Chicago wondering when I’m coming back I’m coming back. Don’t worry, I’ll be back. You’re definitely right about that. Radio is so fickle, you know? The format will change, the PD (Program Director) will change and everything is in a constant state of flux there.

Rocsi: Yep. You never know. One day you’re looking at a hip-hop station, then tomorrow it’s country. You really never know in radio. I’m a New Orleans transplant myself, so I can understand firsthand how some of our people felt when Katrina hit. What do you think about what happened there. Do you hold any grudge against “Dubya” for his slow response times? Weigh in on the conspiracy theory that they levees didn’t “break,” they were “blown.”

Rocsi: As far as the mindset and mentality, you’d understand, you being a New Orleans person, the pains and people being like, “Why didn’t they leave? Why didn’t they get out?” I remember going through Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane whatever — I’ve been through all of them and they always categorize it like it was gonna be this big, massive storm and it never was. You know what I’m saying? It was like “the city that cried wolf” a couple of times. So I tell people all the time, you can’t fault the people for staying, because we’ve been through that situation before. As far as the levees and the tragedy and how it ended up, I just wish we could’ve come to a quicker aid for our people then what was done. It was heartbreaking. People didn’t know where their family was… I didn’t know where MY family was, I was worried. I didn’t know what happened to my house down there or anything. I feel you on that ma, I was on the first thing smoking trying to find out where my people were.

Rocsi: We’re rebuilding, and some of the places I don’t even recognize. I’m like “Wow! This is where I grew up at!” The city is rebuilding and we’re trying to come together. We’re working with the First Day Initiative with all of the high schools in New Orleans telling them to go to school the first day and bring them back to school and we’re also raising money to help rebuild some of the high schools. You beat out 5,000 other people for the “Fresh Faces Search” campaign that BET ran. What about you do you think was the deciding factor? Admittedly, growing up in New Orleans, I’m sure you were introduced to music at an early age. Did you feel any pressure to be more “urban” or “ghetto” coming to a show like “106 & Park” that primarily plays hip-hop and R&B?

Rocsi: Yeah, it was over 5,000 people. (laughs) That’s a lot of faces. I wish I knew. Both Terrence and I… I mean, I didn’t know a lick about TV. I knew hip-hop, so I guess our best attribute is that we knew hip-hop. I wish I could’ve sat in those meetings and know what it was that they saw, but they saw something and I’m glad they did. It’s there. I have fun and I enjoy what I do (laughs). I’m glad that they saw it. I gotta give love to Julissa because she was the first Latin person to be on a primarily black station. It’s at that stage where racism is so finicky and it’s such a borderline subject that I kind of don’t want to stay on that when it comes to music. You have people like Robin Thicke who is doing big things in the music industry to Mariah Carey. Everyone has a little something in them. I always say people are like gumbo; they have a little bit of everything in them. And when it comes to music, I don’t even focus on the race, I just focus on what it is — it’s the music and the culture of what we do. And when it comes to that, I’m just like everybody else. I think it brings us more together. It’s been around about the heated incident between you and Melyssa Ford at the Howard University conference. Care to talk about what really went down?

Rocsi: That’s not true. That’s hilarious because “Rabbit” and I (sidenote: “Jessica Rabbit” is Melyssa Ford’s moniker) laugh about it like “Where did this come from?” Melyssa and I are cool, we’re good friends. We’re cool as hell, I love her to death. She and I did get into a debate, but we were on a panel at Howard University, but it was a debate on hip-hop. We got into a debate on the BET network. We were passionate about our opinions; we were voicing our opinions and every time I hear it, I’m like, “Oh my God, come on, y’all.” Just to be clear, there were no heels taken off? No Lee press-on broken off? It was all good?

Rocsi: (laughs) No! Terrence was there too. He was like, “I was there too; I didn’t see any of that stuff they’re talking about.” That’s funny, but that’s cool. We’re cool. Congratulations on the King magazine cover. You looked amazing in your spread. What made you decide to pose and secondly pose in King?

Rocsi: The opportunity came to get the story and it was a good look because I wanted people to see me in a different light — the different aspects of what I want to do in my career. I don’t want to necessarily to be known for being on a kid’s show or a little girl. I do want people to view me as a grown woman. King came to me with an interview. It was sexy, and they gave me the assurance that everything was going to be sexy, but classy. And it was very classy and I think they did a wonderful job on the inside cover. Then they offered me the cover and I was flattered. I don’t regret it. It definitely changed my mind on what the borderline of what each female can do when they do magazines. You do have a choice in what you do.

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