Houston, Texas, was built by two brothers, who back in the 1800’s had hopes for the city to become a “great center for government and commerce.” Little did they know that two hundred years later, their city would have become the new hub of hip-hop.
With an already solid foundation laid for the Lone Star State by the likes of the Geto Boys and UGK, it was only a matter of time before names such as Chamillionaire, Slim Thug and Mike Jones garnered national attention. Now having been nominated “Next to Blow” by Ozone Magazine, the hip-hop hand book of the South, Trae is taking his 12 years in the game to another level.
With plans for movies, radio shows and dog kennels on his mind, the man responsible for the rapid formation of the ABN (Assholes by Nature) click, is about ensuring Houston continues to shine and getting himself situated for another 12 years.
Siting down with BallerStatus, Trae talks about his big brother who encouraged his raps and who he gives all credit to for his accomplishments, his recent review in The Source, and gives us insight to what the South and himself really represent when it comes to rap. Holding nothing back in this interview and his lyrics, you understand why Trae is considered the truth.
Ballerstatus.com: You had a huge buzz on the streets, how important was the mixtape buzz for you in getting ahead and getting the deal with Rap-A-Lot?
Trae: It was everything. I am in the process of working on my new mixtape right now and I never forget where I came from, as that is the sh** that blew me up and that is what people love from me. I am bringing that right now. That helped me money wise, it helped me fan wise, it kept me on my feet, kept me home and that is everything to me right now.
Ballerstatus.com: How many mixtapes have you put out throughout your career?
Trae: Fifty or sixty.
Ballerstatus.com: But you have been doing this since you were only 12, right?
Trae: Yeah, I mean, my first time being heard I was 16. When I was 16, a lot of these rappers were already in their 20s, so I have been around with the old heads with this whole Houston/Texas movement. And now, I am getting old and I am still around with the young heads.
Ballerstatus.com: Being that you came up at such a young age, did you have anyone who you would consider a mentor?
Trae: Well everyone who knows me knows my brother Dinkie, who is incarcerated. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t even be a rapper. So everyone who loves Trae has to thank Dinkie. That is who mentored me through this sh** as I was doing nothing but following in my brothers footsteps.
Ballerstatus.com: What lessons did he teach you?
Trae: Well, obviously physically, he couldn’t teach me too much because he wasn’t here, but mentally, he sharpened my game up to be smart and to be a real n****. You know, most youngsters, you can tell when a parent is young and immature by the way they act. But, my brother had me caring for myself as I came up. I was always the laid back cat. Instead of talking all the time, I would sit back and listen and watch what was going on and it really broadened my views to everything as I played it smart. A lot of young n****s don’t make it to what I am doing and a lot of n****s in these streets don’t make it to the age of 26 and I am beating both of them.
Ballerstatus.com: Do you think nowadays up and coming artists should align themselves with a person who can mentor them and teach them?
Trae: I think it goes both ways. You have to learn or you are going to learn something new, as there is no way we all know everything. But at the same time, you have to get out there on your own if you really believe in something. Like me, I started by being my own CEO, I started everything on my own. You know, I didn’t go to anybody. Like right now, I think my buzz would have been here a long time ago if I had gone through some people, but I chose to do it my way to where I created my own buzz. I didn’t have to get sh**ed on by nobody, I just went out there and did the sh** on my own.
Ballerstatus.com: From my own personal experience, when you do it all on your own, you appreciate it a lot more. Is that the case with you?
Trae: Yeah, I mean, it does mean a lot more to you as this is your baby.
Ballerstatus.com: Having created a buzz like you have with the mixtapes, Soundscan can come along and really interfere with a new artist, people expecting your street success to result into unit success. Has Soundscan been a threat to you in any way?
Trae: I think what it is even with my Soundscan numbers, is that motherf***ers don’t really acknowledge that sh** as I am raw with what I do. And at the same time, the funny thing is, even if I didn’t scan a lot, every real n**** in every hood or every trap, you will tend to find them playing my CD. Why is that? Because I bring real sh**. F*** however many scans I do or don’t have. At the end of the day, I still stay respected and I still get money. I think every person has his day and I think I just have to wait until it is my time. At the same time though, I don’t think a lot of people know my sh** is out there yet. My thing is once I get heard, I have something to gain. But, if I don’t get heard, my tape is no different to anybody else.
Ballerstatus.com: But, why do you think people don’t know your sh** is out yet?
Trae: I don’t really know. Some people don’t really know and right now it doesn’t matter to me, why they do or why they don’t. I just know I have to get out there and make sure they do know. Everything I have been doing from the Ozone Awards, you know they showed me a lot of love at the Ozone Awards, the Core DJs. Anywhere I need to be, I am there.
Ballerstatus.com: Do you think that people pay too much attention to Soundscan? I mean, it wasn’t such a big deal ten years ago to your regular person on the street. Now, everyone seems to be waiting on those numbers on a Wednesday morning?
Trae: Yeah, but really, they have to understand to me, it doesn’t mean anything because I am still respected as any other major artist, no matter what I do. I know I am going to be there. You know when I go out to other cities, they are going to respect me like they are going to respect any other big artist. Where you get the numbers from for Soundscan, they are made up from kids and women. Me being who I am, they ain’t really caught on to me as I am a little over their heads as I am spitting some sh** that some people ain’t been through yet.
Ballerstatus.com: Therefore your target audience then would be?
Trae: The streets. I mean, anybody who goes through reality, as my type of music is the type of music you listen to when your mind is on the fact that they are the only person going through this and it makes them think if I can make it, they can make it. Motivation will help these motherf***ers and maybe prevent them from getting their brains blowed out. My thing is sh** don’t bother me, you know I am good. Don’t get it twisted, it ain’t just about the money. I had money before I came. But motherf***ers still be waiting for everything I am going to do, artists coming to give me features right now, I don’t give a damn about no Soundscan and I am sure they don’t give a damn as they are still giving me all their sh**.
This Texas movement is hot; the south is hot period and when you come to Texas, there ain’t one motherf***er that won’t tell you Trae is the truth. They know when you come out here, this is my stomping ground. No matter what the rest of the world do, if they rely on Soundscan, when you come out here, I am the business and that is a known fact.
Ballerstatus.com: There is a whole lot of drama that goes along with being an artist today and many of the artists I have interviewed have said they wish that all they had to focus on was the music. Do you enjoy what you do in its entirety?
Trae: Well, my life is my life. The sh** that I rap about is the sh** that I deal with and the sh** that I deal with is the sh** that I choose to rap about. I just do me. If I am out doing my thing and I am having a good day, I am enjoying it. If I am having a f***ed up day, there is no difference. I give my all to this sh**. I have been in it for a long time, you lose a lot of sh** doing this sh**, but I chose to take that route to keep doing this sh**. At the end of the day, I do it so that my little ones would be ok and the door is open for another real n**** to come and step in or a few young real n****s to step in, because there are real n****s sprinkled throughout the world. They just ain’t had their chance yet.
Ballerstatus.com: Being from the South, what do you think the biggest misconception is about Southern hip-hop?
Trae: I think is the biggest misconception is that we really ain’t a part of hip-hop or that our music is a joke. But, I am going to show you how deep that sh** is. To be honest, we never looked at ourselves as hip-hop. Pimp C said it best, “We spit game.” I spit life. I got reviewed in The Source. I wasn’t mad at The Source, I was mad at the motherf***er who reviewed me as he has never been to the streets in his lifes so he doesn’t understand what it is that I am rapping about. He only understands lyrics of hip-hop and the political sh**, which is cool, but motherf***ers have to live the life to understand that. But at the end of the day, f*** what they said about us, we good right now. You can put me in a booth with any n**** and I am good all the way round as I rap fast and I can sing and there is nothing that people can do that will trash me, period. And n****s know that. They got their perception on who they already have seen and who is on the radar to them. They may have their perceptions, but there are a lot that ain’t been seen yet and I am one of the first. But to be honest with you, they pinpoint certain ones, but I am good wherever I go.
Ballerstatus.com: You signed with Rap-a-lot, was it important for you to be represented by a Texas label as opposed to say an Interscope or a Def Jam?
Trae: It didn’t matter who I was represented by; I dealt with them because they understand me and I understand them and we are cut from the same cloth because we have a better understanding of each other in different ways than what other labels have.
Ballerstatus.com: Now you have a child, how hard is for you to be just that doing what you do, going out on the road and stuff like that?
Trae: You go through a lot of sh** with this man. You know, some weeks I go two, three weeks without seeing my son or I may be on the road for a month, but that is the thing I have to do to make sure he is situated.
Ballerstatus.com: The Source definitely gave Houston a great cover in the May edition.
Trae: Oh yeah, we have got love for The Source. I deal with them, but the person who did my review really degraded my sh** and degraded the South period. But at the same time, any motherf***er who got my album will tell you that it is better than 98% of any other albums out right now. The funny sh** is, what I did purposefully on the album I have out right now — The Young & The Restless — was the album I was doing independently. When I signed, I didn’t go and get no other production. That album was done, all the features I had done. So if that is what I am doing on an independent level, imagine what I am going to be doing on a major level. So real talk, if you look on the inside of my album cover, you will see where my album is recorded; it was recorded in my house in my room.
Ballerstatus.com: Some people don’t pay them any mind, some do. Does it bother you getting a bad review?
Trae: It did when it comes from someone who doesn’t understand me, but at the same time, it doesn’t do nothing but motivate me because see I am the type of n**** that can drop an album, but have no radio. I can do a show and they know my sh** word for word. That sh** isn’t that easy to do, not just in Houston, but anywhere. They have to understand I am moved by what they say and think. I have been rapping since I was 12 and I am 26 now. if I ain’t gone no where yet, I ain’t going nowhere. Most of the rappers out here are damn near in their 40s, so I have a long way to go.
Ballerstatus.com: So what are you working on right now?
Trae: I have a movie I am working on, “Same Day Different Day,” which is just in the works.
Ballerstatus.com: Was the acting/movie thing something you wanted to get into? Because there is always some comment made about rappers trying to act and actors trying to rap.
Trae: You have some good ass actors because they are good at faking and then you get the ones that are good at what they do. I think with me, I am just going to do me, I have no angle to become a bonafide actor. Sh**, I was an actor when I was at school being the class clown, some sh** is just meant for people.
I am in talks with Sirius Satellite man, they support me and I love them, so I am trying to get my ABN Radio Show, ABN Mortgage group and an ABN kennel with the dogs. I have a dog man, who has Neapolitan mastiffs, pitbulls, English pitbulls… I am doing anything there is to do. I have to shout EA Sports. I am a Madden ’07 fanatic. So the 7-12 million who are going to go out and buy Madden, make sure you go out and listen to the track “Real Talk” with Trae on it and go and buy the album.
Ballerstatus.com: You mentioned the Ozone awards, you were nominated for…
Trae: I won the Next To Blow award, and the Ozone Awards is something big, as that is something that gives back to the South. Julia Beverly did her thing with that and I honestly support them and the sh** that they did, recognized a lot of people. That was a good look for a lot of people as the recognized a lot of artists that don’t get a chance as opposed to, if I was at The Source Awards right now, I probably would be able to perform. But if I didn’t, it really wouldn’t have made a difference. But they, Julia, they put me on that stage and when they put me on that stage and you can quote my words, you can ask them to this day, motherf***ers were amazed by my performance. To me, I wasn’t as big as some of the artists that were on that stage, but they believed in n****s like us because they have been out here f***ing with us. I do support anything and everything they have got going; not just because I performed, but because someone is out here trying to help with what is going on out here.
Ballerstatus.com: Have you always been a performer?
Trae: I always just do me. I don’t consider myself rap or hip-hop; I just do me.
Ballerstatus.com: I mean was performance something you had to work at?
Trae: No, that’s what I am saying. I don’t work at nothing. Like when it comes to the movie, I don’t plan to be better than everyone else, I just plan on being me. Never in my life have I rehearsed my shows.
Ballerstatus.com: With some rappers making their own movies these days, they have been frowned upon for being nothing more than a higher budget street DVDs, how will you avoid that with yours?
Trae: My sh** is more so going to be me. It’s like if you know some of the titles I give my albums, like Same Thing Different Day, there I am bringing you to the life of what goes on right here. No matter what we do or what we get, it’s the same sh**, different day… it could be drama, it could be hustling, it could be doing whatever. My sh** is just going to be straight me and that is what it is man.
Ballerstatus.com: If I was to visit Texas, what would be the places you would show me to in Houston?
Trae: My hood is the SouthWest side; I am loved by all around. First of all, you would run across a lot of cats. ABN is real thick out here. When you are with me, you are going to run into a lot of n****s, as this ABN sh** is for real, but we are cool. We don’t be out here tricking, that’s my camp. ABN is a lot of different gangs all combined into one. You know, it is a positive power movement. I would take you to the strip clubs, although some people don’t like seeing those.
Ballerstatus.com: Are the strip clubs as big in Houston as they are in ATL?
Trae: Yeah they are big. If you notice, a lot of girls come out here from Atlanta and a lot of girls from Houston go to Atlanta. Then what I would do then is take you to the Soul Food spot. I would take you to the hood spot, Jimmy Chan’s. We have a tattoo shop called Ghetto Dreams, man there is a whole bunch of sh** to see and do here. QD3 Entertainment, who be doing the “Beef” DVDs, they were out here one time and I took them with me and I guarantee if you talk to them to this day, it was something different for them all. They liked that sh**. The funny thing is and what you have to realize, is my neighborhood isn’t any different to any other n****s’ neighborhood, as there is hood everywhere. But, it’s just that sometimes people don’t get to see that sh**.