After a lengthy career centered around creating positive events in the Houston Texas, community, Trae Tha Truth‘s 2009 annual “Trae Day” was marred by violence in the crowd. During an interview on Houston’s lone Hip Hop radio station, KBXX, 97.9FM (The Box), The Madd Hatta Morning Show on-air personality, Nnete Inyangumia, suggested that the violence in Trae’s music indirectly contributed to the violence on “Trae Day.” The ABN emcee responded with four derogatory bars about the morning show host on his 2009 street album, The Incredible Truth, to which The Box (and owner Radio One) responded to by banning Trae’s music from it’s airwaves. The lawsuits, the petitions, the severed relationships that followed in the aftermath of the “Trae Day” calamity provide the backdrop for Trae The Truth’s newest release, Can’t Ban The Truth.
On Can’t Ban The Truth, Trae is at his best when speaking plainly about his ban from The Box and the lack of support he’s received from fellow Houston rhymers. “I keep it loyal but these niggas only loyal to they self / I did it out of love / They only did it for they self” he raps over the thumping bass line on the Young Jeezy-assisted “I Got This,” then again on standout track “The Radio Won’t Play This” featuring Wyclef Jean. ‘Clef’s acoustic guitar sound scape provides a sonic detour from the mostly smoke and ride ready production found throughout the rest of the project as Trae kicks his most telling bars on the incident:
“People asking where’s the support from other Houston rappers / I told them nowhere and truthfully it ain’t a factor / It’s to the point when I’m around they act like they don’t see me / But I’m the streets and everything that cross has gotta see me / Instead of standing for The truth they worried about getting they record played knowing nothing guarantees them they’re record stays / What’s kind of funny niggas know I’m getting fucked over / but they act like they don’t see nothing / quick to roll the fuck over.”
Trae harnesses his inner 2Pac on “Please Respect It”, taking it’s hook from Makaveli’s “Krazy” with “Last year was a hard one / but life goes on / Hold my head against the wall learning right from wrong”, as the corpulent voiced lyricist further addresses the tumultuous year: “Maybe that’s why they’re out here banning my records / Check it / you ain’t gotta like the truth but please respect it”.
While Trae’s commentary on the Radio One situation is littered throughout the mixtape — most notably with interludes from Pimp C, Pimp C’s mother, Yung Turk (from jail), Lil Duval and the faux news report on the incident that opens the album — in no way is it the only topic covered. “Bad Don’t Seem So Wrong” features an inspired verse from Lupe Fiasco as the two wax poetic on the hustler’s struggle to find positive answers while living a negative lifestyle. The R. Kelly, “I Wish” sampled, “Still My Nigga” is a tribute to fallen homies, and “Deuces & Trae’s” featuring Young Buck and Big Pokey, with it’s chopped and screwed hook and ominous production immediately screams quintessential Houston.
From mic to plug, Can’t Ban The Truth is a solid offering from Trae. The disappointment felt because of the “Trae Day” shootings and his subsequent battle with The Box resonates throughout, turning the mixtape into a therapeutic release for the Houston rapper. While the content is diversified enough to still appeal to fans of previous offerings, the focus — from the title to the interludes — is undeniable. CBTT falters with generic mainstream production on “General” and “Gangsta 4 Life” (featuring Rihanna), a handful of one time listens like “Hood Nights” and “Cop A Drop” and “Tear” that make it nearly impossible to run through the entire project without pressing skip and whenever Trae unleashes his constipated tongue twister delivery that rarely flows on beat. As a result, overall replay value is quickly put in jeopardy.
However, the bulk of the album is still charged with enough emotion and visceral honesty to tap into the listener and the Cadillac-ready production will keep heads nodding up and down Houston’s I-45. Given his philanthropic efforts throughout the area, providing assistance however he can to those most in need, regardless of his current Radio One ban, “you ain’t gotta like the Truth / but please respect it.”