Hip-hop has got lots of characters but not enough cartoons. Yet, Trae tha Truth is carrying on a long tradition of animated rappers—from André's Class of 3000 to Kid 'N' Play's eponymous series in 1990. The Houston rapper's self-titled 'toonwhich follows the 'hood hijinks of his friends, family and celebrity guests, is set to return at the top of this summer and will be bigger than ever.

The series—which has already clocked 30 episodes—will premiere 10 new shorts on 420TV, a new cannabis-centric video on-demand channel, set to launch online and on mobile apps early this year. The hilarious cartoon started in 2012, quickly picking up views and gaining popularity streaming online under the shortened title Trae.

"I don’t think people realize how big this is," Trae tells XXL. "It’s a good fit for me because that start is fresh. I’m not just coming in riding the wave of what everybody got going on. We actually gonna be part of the structure, the foundation, one of the seeds that was planted. We can only grow bigger. It’s a beautiful new partnership."

Trae Tha Truth is just another feather in Trae's fitted, adding to a career that's been acclaimed in several different regards. He started out as a member of the legendary DJ Screw-founded crew Screwed Up Click, which was instrumental in the city’s rich hip-hop history. Nearly a decade after debuting with 2003’s Losing My Composure, Trae signed with T.I.’s Grand Hustle Records in 2012, where he now serves as vice president. He dropped his album Tha Truth Pt. 3 last year.

Through Trae's nonprofit Angel By Nature, he's led relief efforts for multiple natural disasters, including Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and put on Trae Day, a 10-year-old annual celebration where he gives back to the city through scholarships, reading initiatives and live performances.

Trae’s motivation to help others comes from within. “You gotta have the heart for it,” he says. “I always say, ‘What if that was my mama? What if that was my grandma?’”

XXL spoke with Trae about the upcoming season of Trae Tha Truth, his charity efforts, and how he helps Houston in every way that he can.

XXL: What have you been up to creatively, concerning your animated show?

Trae The Truth: I’ve been tryna create a formula to the secret weapon, which is my cartoon. We haven’t announced it but we announcing it now: my new home is 420TV.

What was it on before? Was it strictly YouTube?

Yeah, YouTube, Vevo, of course it’s been on WorldStar, different websites. But the cartoon itself has so much potential. You have all A-list voiceovers, whether it’s T.I., Marlon Wayans, Snoop Dogg, RiFF RAFF, Mystikal, Rick Ross. I’m even more excited for the newer episodes.

The Haunted House episode is very funny—it’s nearly seven minutes long, but it gets the point across and doesn’t feel rushed.

You gotta understand, as an entertainer it takes you out of the entertainment element, meaning you get to have fun with it. But I think that’s why so many people love doing it. Because they get to experiment. Who as a kid didn’t wanna [be] on a cartoon?

Where’d you get the idea to start the series?

So, the cartoon consists of me and my partner, Jay Sugarman. He just did a random cartoon one time, and I was one of the people in it. But it didn’t have voices. It was so well-received. I like to salute people if they doing something amazing. I reached out, and we been partners ever since, and we’ve been running it. I’m real excited now because, just like in the music, as time goes by, you grow. Where we at now with the cartoon, the potential is amazing. I don’t even wanna tell you the list of the people who gonna be on the new episodes. I could tell you one of ‘em—Redman—so you can imagine how much fun he had.

That’s gonna be great!

For me, I’m always jumping over obstacles and hurdles, from doing music to becoming the VP at Grand Hustle to [being] part of the company BumpBoxx, the radios that everybody’s getting now. Then I’m out here, saving the city from Hurricane [Harvey]—we still doing relief efforts out here. At the same time, getting back to the music and then the cartoon. I’m always going, man. Everything with me, I give it my all.

Are you releasing music that’s affiliated with the show?

I haven’t really thought about it. That’s a good idea. Usually, when we put music in there, it would be my music. My mind is always turning, so we’ll get back to you on that one.

The cartoon is authentic—all of the people you have involved, they're just being themselves.

If I was to tell you how many people call me on the regular wanting to be a part of the cartoon—I get so many calls, like, “Man, don’t leave me out this season.” It inspires people. Because I watched a lot of people try and do cartoons, but I know ours is still authentic.

How do you pick and choose people for episodes?

The main foundation of the family is my lil' brother Jay’Ton, my cousin Lil Boss, my cousin Grey, then we have a character [named] Birdfeed, and one or two other characters. Those are the main ones and we always have a guest. But, then we have relationships with all entertainers, so a lot of 'em familiar, a lot of 'em in tune, so a lot of 'em are automatically like, “Man, put me in there.” It's just a matter of when are we doing episodes and who fits that episode. We tryna get everybody in there, man.

Is there a cartoon that you remembered really loving?

On the daily, I watch Family Guy. I love Family Guy so much that [I watch] The Cleveland Show. I can just be sitting somewhere chillin’, and let the episodes play. I always tuned in. Those are definitely my two favorites right now—Family Guy and The Cleveland Show.

You mentioned your relief efforts earlier—you're always giving back to Houston. Where does the desire to help people come from?

It comes from the heart, first and foremost. Being genuine and humble. I always think in my situation, "What if it was me?" And then I always think my situation ain’t as bad as the next person’s. For instance, yesterday we helped a lady rebuild her home, she’s sleeping in a tent, inside her home. They don’t have a stove, oven, they use an electrical pan. Too many people are in desperate situations. It was a 98-year-old we met that was sleeping on a loveseat in a house full of mold. Nobody came to help her; no one even heard her story. So we rebuilt hers.

Anybody who’s concerned with helping Houston and Texas, they can always go to my non-profit website, AngelByNature. They can donate to keep the efforts going. Because right now, it looks like it's gonna be another five or six years before Houston can even slightly be back decently on track.

How has Trae Day and your non-profit evolved over time?

I started off small, but you gotta realize on an average Trae Day I spend anywhere over 100,000 on these kids. So, it definitely grew to where it’s at probably one of the biggest places you can be at in Houston, which is Discovery Green. It’d be tens of thousands of people that come out, to the point it’s an outside event, but it gets so many people that they won’t even let other people in. That lets you know how big it gets. Over the holidays, me and my partner Mr. Rogers gave out at least $120,000. I’ve taken 180 families on a JCPenney shopping spree—$72,000. A lot of that stuff has improved, as opposed to me just wanting to give kids some candy. I’m the head of the city now. Everybody turns to me, so it’s just work, man.

Were you surprised when you received the key to the city of Houston?

I was actually awarded the key last year, during my holiday, on the 10-year anniversary of Trae Day. It got postponed because Harvey hit and I was out full-speed, from rescuing people, doing relief efforts, to where they found the time like, “Aye, we need to get him here, so we can give him this key.” It was an event where the mayor, police, fire department—they were doing a city vs. county celebrity game. They had me come out and presented it to me there, which is even more crazy. I got the key to the city, and the next week an award from the U.S. Congress—Congressional Hero Award. They were back-to-back.

That’s gotta mean a lot to you.

It do. I'ma be honest—I get so many awards, I just keep moving. Maybe one day when I actually take a break the reality will sink in of what really happened. I was the first rapper in Houston with his own holiday, the first with the key to the city, first one with a Congressional Hero Award, first one that [went] to the White House. I've accomplished probably 90 percent more than people across the world. And now, look at me! I’m on TV!

See New Music Releases for January 2018