TraeTrae is the voice of the streets. The Houston-bred MC carries hope to the streets just as he reflects its turbulent trials through his genuine lyrics. This staple of Houston hip-hop has been perfecting his upcoming release, The Truth. Though there hasn’t been an official release date, Trae is gearing up and making sure you are aware when it drops.

As a founding member of A.B.N. (A**holes By Nature), Trae is unapologetic for his style of music — a style that illuminates issues that many “ordinary” people can identify with. Whether he’s with the rest of his ABN army or standing alone, Trae is emerging as a respected MC within the genrep and is building his legacy from his loyal fanbase who cling on to his true-to-life lyrics.

Recently, was granted an exclusive interview from Trae, where he discusses everything from the last ABN album to the importance of effective marketing.

Sincerity seeps from his lips as Trae focuses on The Truth. It Is What It Is was released in 2008. You teamed up with Z-Ro for what a lot of people consider a certified street classic. Why did commercial media sleep on the album?

Trae: It wasn’t that they slept on it, they wasn’t aware. You have to have awareness. Say for instance an album comes on and you’re not aware, then you’re not going to be up on game. Sometimes you’re out of the mix like that and you don’t know what’s going on. That’s why the album’s still selling right now. I think commercial-wise, [it’s because] we weren’t heavy with the radio or with the video. A lot of people who weren’t in the streets or in the gutta or didn’t listen to all types of music, wasn’t aware of it. The music was good. It’s just a matter of knowing it. If I don’t listen to a Trae CD, I won’t know what a Trae CD worth. The awareness is everything right now. In the future what kind of marketing campaigns do you plan to undertake?

Trae: I’m already on it. My new album, The Truth is coming out under Fontana/Universal, so I’m always in the light to let people know that it’s coming. As far as what I got going, I don’t think it’s going to be that hard. In the industry, I’m highly respected from the biggest artists. I’m probably one of the only people who wasn’t signed to a major who had people like Lil Wayne, Jadakiss, Ludacris, Shawty Lo, Rick Ross, Gorilla Zoe, and Nicole Ray. There’s a long line of people on the album — Game, Lloyd. I feel I’m going to have the advantages this go round. I just got to make sure I put the right machine in play. You know what I’m saying? If it ain’t in play, I can lose, but I blame that on myself. You pretty much answered my next question. Given the current state of the industry what advantages and what obstacles would you have with a major as opposed to going the indie route?

Trae: With me, I’m kinda in between both, Fontana is independent. It’s just linked in with Universal, like Asylum is with Warner [Bros]. So, Fontana is with Universal, so I still get the major plug and the major look, but with it being Fontana, I get paid like an independent artist. I get a bigger percentage of the pie. I still got the advantage because I’m signed to ABN Entertainment, I’m just getting distributed through Fontana/Universal. I get all the outlets that are available that the majors get, but I all the proceeds that the independents get. Sounds like a smart business move.

Trae: Always. How long were you with Rap-A-Lot?

Trae: I don’t know exactly. I dropped a nice number of albums within a couple years time, within two or three years. Has the atmosphere there changed? It seems like a lot things are changing. You’re not there anymore, Devin’s not there, Dirty is gone, then of course with Pimp C’s passing, how are things?

Trae: I don’t know. I’m not really over there to see what’s going on. But they still got artists. They got Z-RO, they got Bun, they got I think Pimp C’s next solo. Scarface, I think they got Gravy, the dude that played Notorious. J. [Prince] got a ear for talent. He’s always going to keep his ear to the street and get what’s hot. That was a smart answer.

Trae: I’m being honest with you. That’s my homie. He’ll tell you he knows that I have the business mind and the hustle to get out here and do it. Actually, the reason me and him are as close as we are [is because] a lot of people didn’t believe I would be capable of doing what I’m doing. A lot of people kinda — didn’t believe him when he said “Y’all are sleeping on the wrong one.” He got a ear for talent. With that being said, he even had that ear when it came to me. If he was wrong he wouldn’t be in his position right now. Your brother Jay’Ton is back home.

Trae: Yeah he just got back. How has this reconciliation affected your creativity? Are you getting more work done with him being home? Has his homecoming catalyzed your creativity or reinvigorated?

Trae: Both. That’s my little brother, so at the end of the day, brothers are going to be brothers. Sometimes we work, sometimes we f*** off. I mean that is just what it is. For the most part, it’s good. I got him working on his next mixtape, Got IT By The Ton. We’ve shot two videos already. We got a lot of stuff going. He has a new single coming with him Blood Raw and Rich Boy. You know, Lil’ Boss is doing his thing. Our whole family do what they do. For your supporters that have been down since the beginning, what’s the next Trae album they should look out for?

Trae: The Truth. When does that drop?

Trae: I haven’t slated a date yet. Just know it probably ain’t going to be classic. I’ve made classics … that would be an understatement. Any time I work on something I never take a step back. So with that being said, I’m not going to come until I know it will be a step above the last one. On my last project, I feel I got that buzz in the streets. So, this one here, I feel this one will be my best volume of work. Will you be leaking any singles?

Trae: I don’t know. “Great Percent” just took off on its own. It was just a song on the album and on a mixtape, but everybody loves “Great Percent,” you know? I actually haven’t picked my first single. I haven’t sat with Fontana to see what single they thought, because you have to keep in mind, with this album I got sh** left and right. I got songs with Wayne, I got songs with Ross, I got songs with Shawty Lo, I got songs with Buck, songs with Luda, songs with Jadakiss. I’ve got so much work done. I ain’t dropped a solo in two years, so I’ll be damned if I don’t come back out the woodwork swinging. Knocking ’em out, right?

Trae: It Is What It Is was a good work, but that was a group effort. So as far as my solo, I haven’t come with a solo in a minute. It got to be right when I come with it. But everybody in the industry that has heard the album can say I motivated them to go and get they sh** together. So, you’re challenging your competition?

Trae: Well with the ones I really deal with heavily, it ain’t really competition it’s motivation. They’re my brothers; you’re not really trying to outdo them. You want to make that n**** work too, let them know there’s no easy way. I like your perspective.

Trae: Thank you very much. You mentioned different artists, what about producers?

Trae: The album’s done. I’m just, actually, I’m finishing one of the last songs with me, Lloyd, Game and Rick Ross. Production wise, it’s crazy. I found a lot of cats that are just hungry. I didn’t go for the names that everybody knew. I got Platinum Hands that did some tracks. I got Incredible, I got GL Beats. I got Beano, I got Sci-Fi. I mean just a lot of young, hungry cats that are in the same situation that I’m in. I’d rather work with a young, hungry cat that’s trying to get on a song and tear it up. I did get Street Runner. He did a lot of stuff on Tha Carter III and a lot of other stuff. Will there be anything unexpected?

Trae: In what aspect? As far as collaborations, lyrical growth?

Trae: There’s different ways you can look at it. I wouldn’t say that nothing’s unexpected because over the last year I’ve been collaborating with everybody. There’s nobody that I ain’t really worked with. It depends on the vibe that I’m in at the time. Maybe a month ago, me, Krayzie Bone and Twista did a song, you know? After that I got to doing something with me and Buck. Me and Maino did joints. I just be working. When we’re in that vibe that’s what we do. According to Trae, when it comes to hip-hop, where do you draw the line between using poetic license and just telling lies to the fans?

TraeTrae: I don’t really tend to that kinda of sh**. My focus is just doing me. I feel I really can’t speak on nobody else’s actions [because] I ain’t lived their life. In mine I speak what I speak, which is the truth, you know what I’m saying? It might be in the negative, it might be in the positive. I can only focus on me. I really can’t worry about who lying or who doing what. At the end of the day, they got to look in the mirror and deal with that themselves. I’m going to focus and do me and keep it moving. As long as they don’t disrespect me, I’m good. That’s good. But that be a lot of these industry n****s’ problems: everybody worried about what the next man is doing. How you going to do what you got to do if you steady in this man mix? And all the while this man might be right, but you just so much in his mix you feel he might be wrong. You’re just taking away time from what you’re doing. I play by the rules of the game and I play by the rules of the streets. As an MC, do you feel you need to give your fans all access to your past?

Trae: Some can, some don’t. Me, I feel that one thing you have to understand about the fans I have is that they’re loyal no matter what I drop. When I drop it, they’ll cop it because they’re loyal. For those that have been there since day one, they have the right to know just about anything, anything that I feel comfortable to let out. They have the right to know [because] they’ve been there. Some of them fans, when I go to do my in-stores, when I go where I go and they got sh** when I was a baby — I started rapping when I was 12. When they got something from me when I was 16 years old telling me, “Man, such and such.” I’m 28 right now, how can that not touch me? I’ll always do that, I’ll always let them know the joy in what I got going on.

Sometimes you can’t let everybody know everything, maybe later on down the line, but not all at one time.