Welcome back to Five Spot. Every Friday, we'll examine a recent bit of music news and, sometimes awkwardly, tie it to a bit of Houston rap. It's five videos and occasional cussing. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What a fortnight it's been for Trae. First, his Restless album was named the 14th best rap album to ever come out of Houston. Then his newest son, Houston, was born. Then he released the anticipated The Incredible Truth mixtape. (We're assuming those are listed in order of importance.) And THEN, early this week, a minor controversy erupted on Twitter when a rumor began circulating that his music had been banned by 97.9 The Boxx. Which left everyone asking the same question: Does the only rap station in Houston really have the gall to ban not only one of the city's key rappers, but a noted civil servant? Basically, no. Or maybe yes. But really, this is mostly a non-story. Or an old story that's become a new non-story. Ack. All of this (it appears) can be traced back to the Trae Day shooting. If you'll recall, there was an interview on The Boxx shortly after Trae Day where Nnete - and we're recalling this from memory now - asked Trae, in a somewhat derisive manner, why he was not holding the event closer to his home base in Katy. We met Nnete once at a wedding, and she came off as a nice enough person. Her tone here, however, seemed to imply that Trae was somehow responsible for the shootings that took place, leading to a somewhat tense remainder of the interview. So that was that.
But soon enough, everybody not directly involved with the incident forgot about it, leaving it to trail off into the ether. Fast-forward to earlier this month when the "Uptown" remix from The Incredible Truth leaked, and here's where it gets sticky. At the end of the first verse, Trae cryptically states, "Look at you with your bad built ass, you're trash/ I'm so far gone you ain't even in the past." Then, less cryptically, he concludes, "I guess it's understood while I'm rolling on glass/ And the world hating on me like Nnete fat ass." Now, this is a nice little jab. And surely there was some rumbling at The Boxx when the song inevitably found its way to Nnete's ears. But a source who spoke with Nnete about the situation relayed that there has been no official ban set in place by her, J-Mac or any other Box personnel. (Although it is curious that no statement has been made there isn't a ban in place.) And it should also be noted that none of the tweets regarding this issue have come from Trae's twitter, but from a subsidiary ABN News Twitter feed. There are probably only a handful of people that know the entire backstory of what's gone on here, but mostly it seems like the type of thing that shouldn't be dwelled on (beyond this column, of course). If there is a ban on Trae's music, official or otherwise, that's downright terrible. Like him or not, he's a meaningful artist to a lot of people and his music deserves to be heard. Which really brings us to the central point of why we wrote this: You need to hear The Incredible Truth. It is one of the better, more well-rounded mixtapes of the year, featuring spots from Jada, The Dream, Gravy and samples from Drake and Kings of friggin' Leon. Here are five songs that have sadly been overshadowed by the non-controversy that might actually be a controversy but probably isn't but very well could be."I Could Use Somebody"
Oh my word. This is the type of obscure, unexpected, yet completely appropriate unofficial sample that makes mixtapes utterly indispensable. This is a top five song of the year, easy. Trae has always addressed the issues of abandonment and loneliness head on, but here he seems to have almost perfected the formula. Three noteworthy parts: 1. In the third verse he whisper-sings "All I know is that pain got me feeling ashamed and I can't breathe." The contextual nature of that single line could serve as the thesis statement for the bulk of his career. If there were an "applause" button on our keyboard, we'd be pressing the shit out of it right now. 2. The second verse of this song will age to be one of the finer performances of his career, right up there with his work on "Swang," "Song Cry" and "Give My Last Breath." Guaranteed. 3. In the first verse he mentions someone named Clip losing his mother. Clip is Trae's main handler, and he's a bad motherfucker. If you've ever seen Trae, you likely saw Clip several minutes beforehand. He is probably the most organized, professional person we've ever met that wore an a-shirt for the majority of the time that we spent around him. He remains to be one of the more reliable people in the music industry we have worked with. Our condolences go out to him and his family for their loss."South Shit"
Damn. Pimp C, man. Pimp C."Rock Bread"
Somehow, Trae sounds to have gotten meaner since we last heard him on Street's Advocate. He might be entering the post-grieving "Fuck You, For Sure" phase of his career. After this comes the humanizing "I'm A Soldier, But I'm A Man With Feelings Too" phase. If he ever makes a better album thanRestless
, it'll come during that stretch."23, 24"
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Trae has long been compared to Atlanta's Young Jeezy. Their flip here of Jeezy's "Thug Motivation 101" from Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101 all but confirms they're parallels to one another. Wait. Can two people be parallels of one another if one is clearly better than the other? Because Trae > Young Jeezy."Forever"
There's this guy named Chaz that we always sit around to dissect new Houston rap with whenever it comes out; we may have mentioned him before, we can't remember. At any rate, we typically judge a song's quality on whether or not it can force Chaz, currently a college student at U of H and teacher's assistant at Sharpstown high school with an adequate grasp on grammar, to drop the "-ed" from his verbs and replace them with "t"s; i.e. "he killt this song," or "he wreckt that shit, man." Chaz hates Drake thoroughly, but he conceded that this song was wreckt. Thank you for your support. Have a safe weekend.