Last month I got the opportunity to go down to Houston for Trae Day and while I had fun hanging out and experiencing the event live, I must admit that I walked away seriously disappointed in the lack of unity among some of Houston’s artists.
The all-day celebration marked the third anniversary of the day Houston MC and noted civil servant Trae Tha Truth was given the key to the city. The event offered rides, games, free school supplies and uniform giveaways, as well as a free concert for all of the families in attendance.
Now, if you’ve been paying attention to the H-Town music scene you’d know that Trae filed suit against Houston radio station 97.9 The Box for enforcing a ban that’s seriously threatened his livelihood. The station basically will not play anything that is even remotely related to him.
For Trae, it means that it has and will continue to be difficult for him to work and collaborate with other artists because they know there’s no chance of airplay if he’s on the track. It means that promoters will be hesitant to book him for shows because advertisements for the events are banned, as well, if they mention his name. The Box wouldn’t even allow a Houston 4 Haiti benefit to run ads on their station because Trae was a guest. He ultimately backed out of the show so that it could get the publicity that it needed. The ban has even started to affect the livelihood of other people associated with Trae. The Kracker Nuttz, veteran DJs at the station, were suspended for accidentally playing a Chamillionaire song that featured Trae and radio DJ Brandi Garcia, who’d been with The Box five years, was fired for playing a Trae song at a non-work related event.
The problem is compounded by that fact that The Box is the one and only hip-hop station in Houston, so it’s not like Trae can take his business elsewhere. They’ve got a monopoly on the hip-hop market and are, in my opinion, inappropriately wielding that power to systematically block out Trae.
At this point, it’s kind of like “Is The Box serious?” As Matt Sonzala, former Houston Press music listings editor and local hip-hop promoter, pointed out in his open letter to The Box, this whole situation could’ve been cleared up months ago with a simple conversation between Trae and the radio station. The fact that it hasn’t been resolved makes me think that there’s much more to the story than meets the eye.
Now I get it—It’s politics.
While many artists are on Trae’s side, as well, they can’t necessarily act or speak on it without jeopardizing their relationship with The Box. However, that doesn’t mean that this isn’t seriously disappointing.
I wonder if people realize that as long as this is allowed to happen, it could potential happen to any other Houston artist in the future. No matter who the victim, it seems like it’s on the responsibility of all Houston artists to show up and show out… and if you get banned off the radio then so be it. If everyone banded together would The Box ban everyone? No. If people in the city of Houston stopped attending Box events how long do you think the ban would last?
It was nice to see that even with all of the controversy the streets still came out to support Trae but what was particularly upsetting was the lack of support from other Houston artists. I didn’t count one Houston artist but there were definitely a few who showed up to the Bun B album listening party across town later that night.
Why isn’t anyone doing anything?
Lupe flew out from Los Angeles and many other artists came out to support. You mean to tell me there’s not one person in Houston that’s going to stand beside Trae with more than just moral support?
Now that his case against the station has been dismissed, it makes me wonder, who’s going to stand up for Trae? —Brooklyne “I’m on Trae’s Side” Gipson