Last Night: Trae Tha Truth At House Of Blues
Photos by Marco Torres
See Pimp C's mom, Lupe Fiasco and more take the stage with Trae Tha Truth in our slideshow.
Trae Tha Truth Street King CD release feat. Jadakiss, Waka Flocka, Yung Joc, Yung Quis, Lupe Fiasco & Pimp C's mom House of Blues June 28, 2011
10:16 p.m.: So here we are again. Trae, the man who walked face-first into a war with corporate radio because his morals dictated he do so, has planned a concert tonight to celebrate next month's release of Street King, his first solo album in more than three years. In addition to advertised guests, there have been whispers about a proper stage show and various high-end merchandise giveaways. Should be fun. Prop bets for the night:
Yung Joc is the first guest pulled out: 1:1 Someone asks, "Wait, who's that?" when Yung Joc comes out: 1:1 Trae ends the show with "Swang": -13:1 Trae references 97.9 The Box more than twice: 1:3 Z-Ro makes an appearance: 1:40 Someone says, "Oh shit. I think I just saw someone get stabbed in the restroom": 5:2
And we're off.
10:17: Baby Jae, former Boxx DJ, incidental victim in the war, is mixing tonight. Nice touch.
10:23: Ack, ack, ack. That Amber Rose haircut, don't do that, ladies.
10:48: Lights out. The band - we forgot to mention Trae has a live band with him - is warming up.
10:50: Don Cannon, music tastemaker and host of Trae's last mixtape, is onstage. Cool. Wasn't expecting that. Surprise no. 1.
10:52: So we guess you'll just wear a Chad Ochocinco T-shirt then, concertgoer? Cool, cool.
10:53: Show's starting. Lights are low. The song that opens Trae's last mixtape that uses the Adele vocals (very somber, very heavy) is playing. It's dark and spooky and the mood is set.
10:54: Oh snap. Trae just came riding out on a lowrider bike. He's like Jody from Baby Boy. Trae just pulled a Jody, bros. He stops at the center of the stage, bows his head, raises his handmade H and the crowd pop, trunk, waves all over the place. Surprise no. 2.
10:56: There are two versions of Trae you generally get at a show, each dictated by the type of song he's doing. If he's going to do a song where he raps fast (think "Real Talk"), he roots himself into the stage, bracing himself like a fireman holding a hose that's about to kick on. He hunches down a little more than normal, focuses inward, and then BLAM!, words come rocketing out in that wispy swordswipe he's perfected.
When he's in Fast Rap Trae mode, it's like he's bolted to the floor. He looks as stable as an oak tree. With Slow Rap Trae mode ("Swang," "No Help," all of the songs from It Is What It Is that are considered classics), his hip-hop bounce is considerably more obvious. He's not necessarily carefree, his likely never been described as such in his life*, but he's certainly less weighty. Right now, he's doing "Still Throwed."
*To wit: In "Hypa" he reveals that, upon his birth, drugs were placed in his diaper. Of course that's hyperbole, but still, the fact that it might not be is good enough.
10:59: ...aaannnddd the first guest of the evening is Joc. Even money paid for that one.
11:01: "Hey, you're done with your drink?" Yep. "Cool. There's a trash can right over there." Nah, I'm good. I'm just gonna throw it on the floor. "Bro, it's like, two steps away." Nah, nah. Right here, right on the floor, this is good.
11:03: "Grey Cassette"
11:07: Oh snap. Remember that girl on YouTube that Trae linked to a while back, the one who was playing his songs on violin? She's onstage right now, black evening gown and sunglasses, violining the shit out of her violin. Surprise No. 3.
11:09: "Hypa." Slow Rap Trae.
11:13: Quis, who made this impressive tape earlier this year, is onstage.
11:18: HO.....LEE....SHIT. So from backstage, Trae announced that he was going to, as he is wont to do, "keep it gangster." Then he came lurching out from behind the curtains in a black shirt, black ski mask clinging to the top of his head, towtrucking ten other guys in black shirts wearing ski masks.
They situate themselves behind him. He launches into Fast Trae mode. The crowd is apoplectic. This is America's nightmare. Excellent, excellent moment. It's pretty clear that Trae viewed this as an important show. We've seen him in concert at least ten times. He's never showed this kind of forethought. Surprise no. 4.
11:20: Blammo! One of the ski-masked gentleman yanks his mask off. It's PyRexx, the tattooed, tattooed intimidating white guy that we first noticed back at this show. He looks murderous.
Every gangster rapper everywhere should be required to, at some point, emerge from a group of masked would-be murderers as a stage entrance. Remember that part in Chris Nolan's first Batman where Christian Bale hides himself in that group of ninjas, only to emerge a few moments later, sword to Liam Neeson's neck? That's basically what just happened here.
11:22: Gangsters gone. Trae stops the show to make mention of how, no matter what you're doing, you can always hear your mother's voice, then acknowledges his own mother in the crowd. Following that, he introduces Mama C, Pimp C's mother, who comes slowly out to the head of the stage, using a cane for support. (Surprise No. 5) The first thing she says: "Let me explain the cane first." She goes into a story about how she was recently in a car wreck, that "a nigga tried to take me out." Crowd erupts.
She says that she's coming from Port Arthur, that the doctors told her she "wasn't to ride in a car for longer than 30 minutes, so I told Pops to drive fast." Swoon, swoon, swoon. She says some nice things about Trae, ending with how she absolutely had "to come my baby, my angel face, my Trae." He's actually blushing, inasmuch as he's ever blushed.
"I told Pops to drive fast": Pimp C's mom
11:22:15: FYI, in the span of four minutes there, Trae went from gargantuan gangster to gushing. Let no one argue that he's not a dynamic fellow.
11:27: Lights out. Second guest coming. It's...
11:27:15: WAKA! He jumps into that song about how it's a party, it's a party. Neat.
11:28: Waka Flocka is big as shit. Had no idea he was that large. His music just got better.
11:30: Jay'Ton and Rod C.
11:39: And now Big Hawk's wife is on stage. (Surprise No. 6.) Trae announces that she's going to be giving away two diamond watches that TV Johnny donated, says she can give them however she chooses. Take a guess what she does. Did you say, "Throws them into the crowd"? Yep. To reiterate: Two diamond watches (of untold value) were just thrown into a crowd of amped up rap fans. Somebody just got there arms ripped off, no doubt.
11:42: "Inkredible." Question: Is that song the most impressively produced song in Trae's songagraphy? It's beautifully done. Trae hints that another guest is coming. He's peaking off to the side of the stage. Here comes...
11:42:30: Jadakiss! Was he on the bill? Cool. Surprise no. 7
11:47: And we've wandered into a mix of Trae's older cuts, highlighted by the excessively funky "In My City." No kidding, he has literally touched on just about every song you'd want him to tonight, going so far as to bring out Dougie D (from Guerilla Maab).
11:52: There are actual lighters in the air. Like, real actual lighters.
11:54: The opening salvo of "Bad Don't Seem So Wrong" tinkers on. The crowd loses its shit. Lupe Fiasco, head covered by a fashionable summer scarf, tip-toes out. He oozes charm. Lu does his verse, stands back, then, at the end of the song, parries Trae's attempt to pay him a compliment by saying, "Nah, fuck that. Make some noise Trae, the king of Houston."
11:58: Nearing the end of the show, likely. Trae calls out J. Prince to the stage, acknowledges his impact, then makes a bet with him. The conditions: If the crowd does not go nuts when the next song starts, Trae will pay Prince $1,000, right here, right now. However, if they do go yo-yo, Prince has to give Trae $2,000. What's that thing about how if you make a bet with the devil you've already lost?
11:58:15: P.S. Um, Mr. Prince, should you happen to read this, that was a joke. Please, please, please, that was a joke. You're not the devil. You're not even close. Matter of fact, you're the opposite. You're God. You're amazing, fantastic, wonderful. Just wanted to clear the that up. J. Prince: Not the devil. Thanks.
11:58:30: P.P.S. The song he played next was "No Help." The crowd went nuts.
11:58:45: P.P.P.S. But for real; like, fa'real real: J. Prince: Not the devil.
12:10: Show's ending... stage is packed... Trae, Waka, Jada, Joc, Lu, fleets of hangers-on... "Getting' Paid"... money flying... getting crazy...
12:16: Booyah. Last song of the night: "Swang."
[Ed. Note: Pay the man.]
J. Prince and Trae
Personal Bias: In addition to the watches, two sets of really expensive rims (swangers) were given away. White guys won both sets. Somebody needs to start a White Guys Winning Swangers Tumblr.
The Crowd: Whiter than you'd have anticipated it to be.
Overheard In the Crowd: "That's not who I think it is, is it?" There was a part when they played the intro to the song that Wayne and Trae did and everyone though for a half-second that Wayne was going to jump out. You know you're doing something right when the possibility of an unadvertised Wayne cameo becomes an actual possibility.
Random Notebook Dump: This was very likely the best live show that Trae has ever put together.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.