Friday: Bun B, Lupe Fiasco & Lola Monroe Hail Trae Day
Photos by Shea Serrano
Trae Day feat. Trae Tha Truth, Bun B, Lupe Fiasco, Lola Monroe, Jay'Ton, Pyrexx, etc. Delmar/Dyer Sports Complex July 22, 2011
5:01 p.m.:Pulling up to the fourth annual Trae Day. Good crowd already. Good. Some immediate questions:
First, How long will it be before you can go to/talk about Trae Day and not have to mention the way 2009's ended? We put this question to a bunch of people. Most of them said it'd be about 2013 before, barring it being absolutely pertinent to the conversation, you could ignore it. The most unexpected answer came from a woman:
"Two years after the shooting. I'm gonna say two years because if you go get a pap smear and it comes back abnormal, they check you for abnormal pap smears at your next two doctor appointments. If they come back normal twice, then they stop checking. If nobody got shot last year, and nobody gets shot this year, then you can forget about it. Write about that. Call it the Abnormal Pap Smear Timetable."
It makes sense, we suppose. But in the grossest way possible.
Second: Has Trae become indispensable yet? He seems extra vital to the Houston hip-hop landscape these days. And if he's not yet indispensable, he's at least become indestructible, right? The man simply will not die. Two movie quotes come to mind:
Ever seen Rounders? It's a movie from the late nineties where Matt Damon plays a card player. John Malkovich plays this Russian guy that Damon has to play at the end of the movie. During their heads-up match, Malkovich, having bloodied Damon early, remarks on how difficult it is to beat him, saying, "[I] can't get rid of him; kid's got alligator blood." Trae has alligator blood.
Remember in Casino when Robert de Niro's character Sam Rothstein says of Joe Pesci's character Nicky Santoro, "No matter how big a guy might be, Nicky would take him on. You beat Nicky with fists, he comes back with a bat. You beat him with a knife, he comes back with a gun. And you beat him with a gun, you better kill him, because he'll keep comin' back and back until one of you is dead." Trae is Nicky Santoro.
5:07: Because this year's Trae Day is taking place on HISD property, Trae had to: 1) get about a dozen HISD police officers to serve as security; and 2) gate everything in.
So, rather than before where you could wander in from any direction, there are two spaces to enter, each of which has a set of officers wanding people down to make sure they aren't carrying a weapon. Makes enough sense. The funny part though: The officers are wanding little kids too. Not 13-year-old-type kids; 5-year-olds and whatnot. Have you ever seen a 5-year-old get wanded for weapons? That shit is extra bizarre.
5:48: This year, there are a bunch of aired-up bouncey things for the kids to play in (house, rock wall, obstacle course, basketball goals, velcro wall), as well as a train ride and free school supplies. If you've not yet taken your kids to Trae Day, you might consider doing so. It's fun.
6:12: Oh snap. A guy in a sleeveless button-up shirt? Awesome. That's pretty much the definition of business casual.
6:20: Did you know that when you drink drank, you're supposed to use two Styrofoam cups because the second cup acts as extra insulation? There's even a saying that's become popular - "Two cups to keep the ice cold," as it were. We mention this not because they serve drank at Trae Day (they don't), but because they serve sno-cones, and several guys here have adapted the extra cup philosophy to better enjoy them. It's like the time our uncle came home from prison and showed us how to make a grilled cheese sandwich using an iron and a paper bag. Thug survival tactics are the best kind of survival tactics.
6:24: To this point, several performers have already been onstage. Show was up there, Killa Cal-Wayne was up there, Onehunnidt was up there, a 14-year-old with three white backup dancers was up there. Right now, Rod C, intimidating because his spine throws his head forward like Vertigo from Primal Rage, and Jay'Ton, intimidating because he's goddamn Jay'Ton, are up.
Lupe Fiasco (center, denim shirt) and many, many bystanders
6:26: Attn, Guys That Stand On The Stage During A Rap Show: Stop doing that shit. Nobody likes it. NOBODY. Guys in the crowd don't think you're cool and women in the crowd aren't impressed. No woman has ever been like, "Oooh, Sheila. Look at that one guy onstage. See the way he's just standing there, in the way, doing nothing. Ooh, that gets me hot. I wanna blow him soooo bad."
6:35: There's a guy walking around in a shirt that reads, "My Wallet Is Like My Bitch... Thick." Cute. He has his lady with him. She is advertised. He must have another shirt at home that he wears on other days that reads, "My Wallet Is Like My Bitch... Stuck With A Moron."
6:39: The emcee today just made a remark about how you should buy Trae's new CD, Street King, because Trae works hard for Houston and Houstonians benefit from that, and since buying his music allows him to do so, it's really like you're making an investment. That'd be a gangster-ass investment firm, right. Imagine that. Imagine walking into an office building downtown and being greeted by Jay'Ton, CFO of ABN Financial.
Jay'Ton: Hi, welcome. What can I do for you today?
You: Well, I have some money I'm looking to invest.
Jay'Ton: Great. Well let me tell you a little about what we do at ABN Financial.
Jay'Ton: We're mainly an Open-End Management Investment Opportunity, which means we deal in mutual funds.
You: Oh, excellent.
Jay'Ton: But we do work with various holding companies too, dabble in closed-end funds, chin-check bitches, so on.
You: Awesome. Wait, what? You do what?
Jay'Ton: Chin-check fake bitches, sir. In this market, you really gotta diversify.
You: Uh, I have to go.
Jay'Ton: [stares into eyes without blinking]
You: Shit. Here's my money.
Jay'Ton: We appreciate your business.
ABN Financial would never lose a customer.
6:41: Holy Christ. There's a dude here with his head shaved, but with an edge-up tattooed on. What's more, he's eating a sno-cone. So happy that they brought that sno-cone machine out here.
6:41:15: By the way, the way this works: We go to a concert, type notes into our phone as things happen, then transcribe it once we get home. For that last timestamp, we tried to write "Guy with tattooed hair is eating a sno-cone," except the phone's autocorrect program changed "snowcone" to "snowboard," so the note says, "Guy with tattooed hair is eating a snowboard." Not sure if that would've been more weird than the sno-cone, or less weird.
6:52: ...And Trae is onstage. First song he performs: "Still Throwed."
6:52:05: He's rapping over a version of the song with the words already on it. Come now, sir.
6:56: Lola Monroe is up. All of the boys are besides themselves. You might recognize Monroe as the girl from that "You're A Jerk (Remix)" video that showed up on 50 Cent's site. She effectively cut every dude's legs off with the line, "Money make me cum, you just kinda get me by."
7:03: Earlier in the day, comedian Lil Duval was taking shots at the crowd, making note of how subdued everyone was at that particular time. Right now, Trae mentioned that he was about to hand out a free diamond watch to someone in the crowd. Everyone went crazy, and Duval snipes, "Oh, now you motherfuckers wanna have energy?!" Funny.
7:08: 2 Chainz is up. Most famously, he's one half of the group that did that "Duffle Bag Money" song back in 2007. Man, that was a GOOD song.
7:17: Tropical Storm Freeman has just breezed through the thicket of bodies onstage. Trae tells him that he wants him to choose who it is that will win the set of swangers that are about to be given away. Bun laughs, "Don't put that on me. I just wanted to come support." Bun B, folks: Ever the diplomat.
7:21: A white woman won the swangers. Neat.
7:21:15: You know, come to think of it, we've seen Trae give away four sets of swangers at various shows. Each time, a white person has won. Weird.
7:39: Trae is mentioning his sons, getting the crowd to give Neeko a "Happy Birthday" yell because today is his birthday, but Neeko is off playing somewhere so he doesn't materialize. Baby Houston, his youngest, is being by held by someone at the front of the stage. Trae asks if he wants to do something, then places the microphone up to Houston's mouth.
Houston, not even two, seems to understand the gravity of the situation. He shakes his head no and buries it into the person's shoulder that's holding him. Trae laughs, the crowd laughs, and it looks like for that finger snap of time, there is nothing wrong in Trae's world. The relationship between a father and son is a remarkably powerful thing, know that.
7:42: Lupe comes out. He has to be considered an honorary Houstonian already, right? Trae says a bunch of nice things about him, then gives him a set of swangers too (a black guy finally won some!) and turns him loose. Lu does three songs before eventually succumbing to the demands of the Fire Marshal. Trae Day is over. Goodness all the way around.
Personal Bias: I took my sons along with me this year. They ran like maniacs, ate barbecue sandwiches, watched a couple of songs, asked 400 questions and used two cups to keep the ice cold. Probably why I was overly sentimental at the 7:39 timestamp. Whatevs. Being a dad is a good gig.
The Crowd: Really wanted that watch.
Overheard in the Crowd: (Regarding Lola Monroe) "That's my wife!"
Random Notebook Dump: One guy that performed that didn't get mentioned here is Pyrexx, a growing force in the ABN rap camp. That guy is neat. Looking forward to hearing what he's capable of doing on his own.
Get the Music Newsletter