Standing behind a row of woks and dressed in chef’s whites is Jumaanee Rogers, a rising rap star and avid roller skater who pursues his passions in between dinner shifts and servings of stir fry. Most people know Rogers, 28, who’s also known by the stage name Mr. Money Roger$, as the man behind the exhibition station at 1835 Hinman’s dining hall, but little do they know that this accomplished musician is probably one of the only rappers they’ll meet over a wrap.
“Music, skating, work and being a father is all combined into one, so my life is very, very, very busy,” Rogers says, shaking his head. “It’s just like my money, I just got to manage it. I can’t get behind in my bills just like I can’t get behind in the work that I do.”
The multitalented Rogers grew up entertaining people, beginning at the age of 5 when his mother would have him perform for her friends. “My mother used to work nights bartending, and after the bar closed her friends would hang out at my house,” he says. “It’d be 3 or 4 in the morning and they’d wake me up from my sleep to sing a song that they didn’t even think a kid my age would know.”
Rogers started roller skating around the same time. He even formed a skating group called Chi-Force, which has won the prestigious Adrenalin Awards and starred in a McDonald’s commercial.
He also started getting serious about music as a teenager, when he began participating in rap battles and winning cash prizes.
“I usually write a song in an hour or even faster,” Rogers says. “I’m good under pressure and it’s why I used to do free-styling. I can say something and not be able to repeat it again, but other people will be like, ‘That was hot.’”
Rogers didn’t actually start recording his material until later, training himself to start writing down lyrics and practicing until “it all made sense.” He says the biggest challenge is getting people’s attention and coming up with an infectious tune.
“Nowadays, you have to have a catchy hook and nice tune, because if you don’t have a good beat and a catchy hook, you’re not going to be heard,” Rogers says.
Today, Rogers continues to pursue his music career, opening for acts like prominent Atlanta-based rapper Bone Crusher, performing at local open mic venues like the Subterranean and putting out material including his self-titled debut and last year’s Root of All Evil mixtape. He is also currently in the process of recording a new album, which will be released sometime this spring.
While recordings are a crucial part of any music career, Rogers says his favorite part is just entertaining people. He hopes to continue playing shows where he can “give people what they pay for” and impress them with his genuine self that’s full of “his own swag.”
Students who know of his rap career also say that they can see him as an enthusiastic performer who is able to connect with his audience.
“His flow is decent and I’d say he’s good skate music,” says Andrew Yang, a Bienen and Weinberg sophomore. “He also has a lot of pride in where he comes from. He’s probably able
to connect with an audience from around here because of that.”
And while he hopes to eventually move to Atlanta, where he feels the music scene is more supportive, Rogers still enjoys working at Northwestern and wants to stay at the school for the time being.
“To be honest, I’ve never kept a job for this long,” Rogers admits. “So for me to do this, I know that I’m meant to be here. If I was forced out, I’d probably try to stay here as long as I could.”
The one thing that’s on his to-do list before he leaves Northwestern though? Play Evanston’s biggest music festival, of course.
“That’s definitely on my bucket list,” Rogers smiles. “I got to open for the crowd on Dillo Day.”