The level of influence Trae Tha Truth has within Hip Hop reaches pretty far beneath the surface. Besides having connections to some of the culture’s most iconic veterans, the ABN captain manages to even have today’s hottest emcees from Rick Ross and Lupe Fiasco to J. Cole on speed-dial. That level of respect extends to his own city. Just this week, he held his annual Trae Day celebration. Not only does the yearly event serve as a cool free concert, it serves a greater purpose through medical examinations and school supply giveaways. It’s clear Trae has the streets on lock through honest dedication to his city, a rarity in Hip Hop these days. Topping everything off is an animated video series that continues to be one of the most hilarious things one will witness on the internet.
Still managing to flood the industry through a slew of releases, today Trae drops his newest album Tha Truth. Of course, the album has Houston’s own collaborating with artist including Future, Boosie, Nipsey Hussle, DeJ Loaf and T.I. among others. Setting down with DX, Trae talks the respect he receives, Tha Truth and his cartoon.
Trae Tha Truth Explains The Making Of “Tha Truth”
DX: So you’re out here in LA, talk about how you feel about being out in LA you’ve been here for the last two weeks. What you been doing out here?
Trae Tha Truth: It’s family out here man like I said. I got relationships and history with a little bit of with everybody. Usually when I come out here, it’s work. Real work with me because I am always doing something man. That’s what I’m doing now. Right now, I’m probably 30 minutes late to where I am supposed to be. I’m jumping from spot to spot. It’s always that so, I always appreciate anytime I come out here and it’s just a good environment. Especially for me not being here all the time, you can appreciate it a little more as opposed to awww we see him everyday.
DX: You got Tha Truth coming man.
Trae Tha Truth: Tha Truth is on the way
DX: It’s been awhile since your last full-length album Street King.
Trae Tha Truth: Yeah, that was the last official. Man, that might of been close to almost five or six years.
DX: Considering the amount of material and mixtapes you’ve released between then and now, how do you create an album people are willing to pay for? What’s going through your head when formulating an album, which is a whole different undertaking than a mixtape?
Trae Tha Truth: It wasn’t that I went in there with the motive of doing an album because I have over four hard drives and over 1,300 songs sitting up. So with the album, that’s not the hard part. I always shout out to my brother J.Cole. I am a type of person that sheds light where it needs to go and I was getting ready to put out another mixtape but he was like you need to gone take your lane. You’ve been doing it so long why not make your stain on the game for what you’re known for; doing the best. He felt like don’t give it away, Iet people have something that they could take super serious. At first, I thought about it and I was still thinking about doing a mixtape but, then I ran with it. I was like man I’m going to put an album out because it’s so crazy. I have so many songs. I already have the albums lined up. Like right now on July 24th, they’re going to get Tha Truth, a couple of months later they’re going to get the 2nd half of Tha Truth because Truth was originally 24 songs. So, they going to get the second half. It’ll be Tha Truth or titled something else then This is already in order. I took him up on it man and he helped me to understand. When you really passionate the way we are about music, than we need to do it for us and the ones that really matter. Not thinking about the record sales, not thinking about what’s going to be a single, not thinking about if I don’t have that big record or that big radio hit. Just go in there and do you. With that being said, this album is going to be a perfect representation of me and where I’ve been as far as the last five or six years for those who’ve really been wondering. I mean you know you might catch me on a feature but you really not knowing what’s going on with Trae himself so I think this is going to be the perfect answer for a lot of people. Plus, I think it’s probably going to be one of the most passionate albums since a Pac or somebody man because when you get real personal and your venting the way we do. People tend to intake it way different then when me just going in there making a record for the moment.
DX: Let’s talk about TI’s involvement and your association with Grand Hustle. What’s his involvement?
Trae Tha Truth: When it comes to the album, one thing with me and TIP, we’re brothers. Like our relationship; it’s different. It’s nothing really to do with music or business. So when it comes to the zone with him doing what he doing or doing what I’m doing, we just go in there and do it. When it’s time for one of us to handle for the other we just go ahead and jump in and do what needs to be done. When it come to me and him we pretty much got it with the music so we just go in there and do us. It was to the point he had to tell me to stop recording because as I keep recording, songs got better and better and bigger and bigger. It’s like how you really going to have the lineup for what you are going to put out because you are constantly recording songs and you’re going to keep moving something out of the way. So, I had to slow down a little but the music with us; we got thousands of records. I got a thousand records, I know he do and then together, I know we gotta another 40 or 50 records probably sitting up with the whole Hustle Gang stuff everything.
DX: So how exactly do you, even with formulating an album when artists have that many tracks, what are you looking for when it comes to placing tracks or even deciding where things are going to go?
Trae Tha Truth: It’s all about my mood at the time that’s just what it is. I don’t go in there like I gotta have this kind of record or that type of record because my album is me man at the end of the day. I just go in there and whatever come about and I’m comfortable with it, than that’s what it is. I got a lot of records that had the potential to be on this album but they didn’t make it. Maybe because I didn’t listen to them at that time and I wasn’t in that mood.
DX: So what is the mood of the project, what can you describe it as?
Trae Tha Truth: Its more personal. This would be my…you know how everybody was familiar with Pac when he was going through a tough time in his life and he came out with “Me against The World” and it kind of introduced everybody to him again. Those who knew him really appreciated and those who didn’t know him they really grasped to him so this would be my “Me Against The World”.Of course when All Eyez On Me came out that was his classic it was understood then. This is going to introduced a lot of people in the industry and people who don’t know me to the type of music that I am capable of doing being within Hip Hop.
DX: You mentioned being banned from the radio, is the radio even important anymore?
Trae Tha Truth: For me, I am bigger now than I was when I had radio. You can always appreciate it but when you learn without it and you accept without it you’ll be alright regardless.
DX: We got the internet now.
Trae Tha Truth: Yeah, by far the streets everything man.
DX: Once you have the streets behind you it’s like…
Trae Tha Truth: I have always had that so and now shout out to of course HipHopDX and all the Hip Hop blogs that are supportive of me so that’s just where I am at with it.
Trae Tha Truth Talks The Importance Of Trae Day To Houston
DX: You sound very humble but you know you’re re so important to Houston. I remember out at Trae Day…
Trae Tha Truth: Yeah, it’s coming up again.
DX: Exactly, I think I went to Trae Day in 2011 and I remember I was in the back, and I remember seeing Lupe.
Trae Tha Truth: That’s my brother man.
DX: Yeah, talk about your relationship with Lupe and then we can segway into your feature you did on Testuo & The Youth.
Trae Tha Truth: Me and Lupe family. Like I’m good with the majority of artist out there, like I got my history with them individually. Our relationships be to where it don’t even be about the music. We just really be family. I know Lupe family, Lupe know my family and my kids. It’s to where my momma be looking for him to call from time to time. So our relationship is way different. When it comes to him, he always shows up to support. Like he might randomly just pop up in Houston and just come to where we at so that’s most definitely family.
DX: The “Chopper” on Testuo and The Youth was fire though.
Trae Tha Truth: I was actually in Atlanta recording, he told me he had something for me to do and he sent it to me. Then, I sent it right back. He told me it was probably one of the hardest verses on there and it made me feel good. I remember I was in Houston, Andre 3000 told me, me and him was chopping it up and he was like ‘Yeah I heard you on that new Lupe.’ You know for cats like me, that’s a blessing to hear something like that because you know Andre one of the dopest out there. It’s good though because it woke a lot of people up who didn’t know who I was or wasn’t in tuned with me. You can only imagine if I am doing that on features what am I going to be doing on my own project.
DX: Going back to Trae Day, talking about the importance because in July that would be what, what number with that in July?
Trae Tha Truth: It could probably be close to number eight maybe, seven or eight maybe.
DX: That’s eight, so that mean you’ve given out hundreds of backpacks…hundreds of school supplies and stuff….
Trae Tha Truth: Ahhh no no no no. I give out each Trae day I give out no less than a thousand of backpacks. Trae Day, the mayor and the city of Houston gave it to me for being on of the big homies out there. I just genuinely have love for kids. Even though it’s a celebration for me, I go get all they school supplies, they school clothes, they immunization shots, HIV Testing, carnival rides, games, animals-the petting zoo, face painting and I bring a lot of entertainers from across the world just to come kick it. For a lot of kids, it’s hard times, so they not really going to be able to go to a concert, sit up and go spend they money to go do this or do that. So, I bring them right there to you. If you see them on TV and you had your dreams that you would one day meet them,here they are right here. You can go touch em right now. That motivation in some way is different for me. When I see their smiles and their energy they get from it, that’s gives me my kicks just knowing I can be that big homie for them.
DX: You talk about the kicks you get from it. What’s been the most surprising moment that you’ve seen in any of the Trae Days? What was the most enlightening moments to where you realized like wow I’m really doing something important?
Trae Tha Truth: Everything it means so much in different ways. You get little kids crying telling me thank you, you get the Trae Day start and it’ll be a line around the block. People be very appreciative and supportive because not only about me and what I am doing. The fact that they support for me with what I am trying to do means a lot too. It be people other than just from Houston, it be people from everywhere that come out.
Trae Tha Truth Talks Popular Animated Web Series
DX: Do you ever see yourself running for an office position in Houston?
Trae Tha Truth: People always feel I will. Have I ever thought about it ? No, but my word count out there, so it is possible ?..Maybe. Am I? I don’t know.
DX: You got Trae Day, your musical output, and then one of my favorites is the web cartoons you have.
Trae Tha Truth: My cartoons is with JS; Jay Suge. Me and him have been rocking a long time. The cartoons just kicked back off. One of them was “420” where Snoop and RiFF RaFF was on that one. We did another one and the new one coming out with B.o.B. I got them just coming randomly man.
DX: Let’s talk about the growing pains of involving that because you’ve been doing that for a while now.
Trae Tha Truth: Awhile back I signed with What The Funny [WTF] with Marlon Wayans and a few more people. It did good for it but a lot of sites like yourself and other places weren’t able to pick it up because it was more exclusive to them. So, it kind of slowed the momentum down just a little. Now we’re getting everybody back accustomed to the show. Back to where we’re doing our own thing. That ran it’s course and I’m pushing still.
DX: I hear you, so let’s get into Houston rap. What do you feel about the next generation of Houston rappers coming out.
Trae Tha Truth: I congratulate everybody doing they thing. I stay in my own lane doing me and I always been a firm believer of anybody pushing to do their thing, I am going to support it. That’s just me. I don’t have the ego. I don’t have that pride to where I have to feel like I am better than everybody else because it was a point in time when I was back coming up. At the end of the day, keep doing your thing. Man, I tell any artist, not just Houston artists in general, stay doing you. If that what you really feel, you passionate about and you believe in it, who gives a damn about what anybody else think. Nigga do what you gotta do. You gotta think, everybody wasn’t embracing me music wise; still not, but it’s not going to stop me. I’ve been banned from radio for six years and ain’t stopped yet. So, I done seen the good and the bad. Anybody doing they thing just keep doing you.