Welcome back to Five Spot. Every Friday, we'll examine a recent bit of music news and, albeit sometimes awkwardly, tie it to a bit of Houston rap. We'll incorporate the number five in there somewhere. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday night, Trae and his camp hosted a Town Hall Meeting at the Shape Community Center to open a community discussion regarding the increasingly involved Trae vs. The Box saga that seems to grow more and more surreal each day. The objective of the meeting was to a) for what might have been the first official time, allow Trae to address the situation in a public forum; and b) encourage the community to plant its feet thick in the firmament of the "I'm On Trae's Side" grass-roots campaign. It ended with the a series of boycotts looming for 97.9 The Box. A bunch of bulleted notes from the evening for you to peruse are after the jump, including more details about the boycott.
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- Shape is the quintessential inner-city community center. It recently celebrated its 41st anniversary, and just feels like an important place. That Shape not only welcomed Trae et. al, but have fully embraced him and his cause, is a monumental co-sign. For cripe's sake, Shape has a group there called The Elder's Institute of Wisdom. How can they ever be wrong about anything? It's like having Kobe Bryant co-sign for you at a pick-up game.
- Prior to the evening, there was a debate via email among a few regular Rocks Off readers regarding what the evening's soundtrack should include if compiled from Trae's discography. Songs that definitely made the final cut: "Stressin' Me," "Days of My Life," "Ain't No Turning Back" and "How Could You" from Losing Compsure; "Had Enough" and "Let Me Live" from Same Thing Different Day; "Restless" and "Matter of Time" from Restless; "Life Goes On" from Life Goes On; and "I Could Use Somebody" from The Incredible Truth.
- They handed out T-shirts to everyone that read "I'm On Trae's Side." We asked Brother Derek, one of the guys in charge of the evening's event, if there were some "I'm Not On Trae's Side" T-shirts that would be available for any dissenters that might show up. He didn't think it near as humorous as we did.
- Another note about the shirts, because we know that's what you're interested in: Trae was handing them out beforehand personally. He asked what size we needed. Small, we said. His response: "...Damn."
- The place was almost empty at about 7:40 p.m.. By 7:45 though, it was absolutely packed. There were at least 200 people crammed into the room the discussion was being held. Maybe they all rode together?
- K-Rino showed up and was on the panel. Other people up on the panel: TroubleSum; Deloyd Parker (from Shape); Brother Derek; two of the people from Rice who - we think - were responsible for organizing that Celebrating 25 Years of Houston Hip-Hop discussion at their campus, longtime music industrialite Cathryn Griffin Townsend, whose dad wrote Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On"; the lady from No More Victims, Inc., a non-profit that helps kids with both parents in prison that Trae has worked with numerous times in the past; Warren Fitzgerald Jr., Trae's attorney; and one or two other people we didn't immediately recognize.
- K-Rino cited arrogance as "the key character trait" of the people at The Box. Did you know that he too had a diss track he launched at The Box? Yeah, it was called "Fuck The Radio." He destroyed J-Mac and Madd Hatta in it. It came out back in early 2000. Probably not a coincidence, but he hasn't been played on The Boxx since then.
- Mama Trae was in the crowd. She mostly sat there quietly, but got up at the very end to speak a bit. She was very calm, talked about "we'll make it through this, but we have to do it together." Then she turned and looked at Trae and said in that way only a mom can, "and Mama loves you." He couldn't hold back a smile.
- Brother Derek (right) directed the evening's discussion. He had a bunch of really good sound bites. Stuff about how "all men are works in progress" and how he "is generally a supporter of that which is right over that which is wrong" and whatnot. He likened Trae's situation with The Box to that of an actress who's been instructed by a movie director that he can get her a part in a movie if she sleeps with him. The subtle implication: Trae's getting fucked.
- They played two videos at the beginning of the meeting made up of clips of Trae doing various community service-type events. One of the clips was of the time he went and visited with Devin, that young man that was paralyzed (watch this video if you don't know what we're talking about). Devin showed up to the meeting too. Strong stuff.
- When Trae talked, he acknowledged that the lawsuit was going to be a long, drawn-out process. He referenced repeatedly that even if didn't win in court, he won in the streets, which he feels is more important. "You don't let nobody handle you any kind of way," he said. That seems to be the general mission statement of Trae's existence.
- At the end, members of the crowd were encouraged to take the microphone and offer up suggestions as to how to end all of this. Big Ram from Optimo Radio (left) popped up. His suggestion was pretty simple: "If they don't wanna help us, we'll do it ourselves." Then he pulled up his radio station using his cell phone and put it to the mic. They were playing Trae's "Swang." It was a pretty slick move. After that there was a bit of the "I'm [name] from [record label]" nonsense.
- One guy was brazen enough to actually hand out fliers while talks were still being had. And one lady curiously chastised the people who came to the meeting for there not being even more people in attendance, but not before she mentioned that she was a model escort or something for Pimp C. But mostly it was just a bunch of people trying to figure out a way to get all of this to stop. Which led to the proposed boycott of The Box, the one concrete thing that came from the talks.
- Supporters of the movement - we're unofficially dubbing this the "I'm On Trae's Side" movement - will implement a week-long boycott of 97.9 The Box beginning Sunday at midnight. It will be the first of a series of steps aimed at relaying to the station that there is a growing group of people who do not appreciate what they are doing. During the boycott, a Web site will be established that will direct subsequent I'm On Trae's Side actions. In the approaching days, you can expect to see bits of this floating around on Twitter and Facebook. (And MySpace, we suppose; does anybody even use that anymore?)
- We spoke with Trae afterwards. He was proud of the turnout. And he was proud that so many people were so eager to share their thoughts on the situation. He's eager to see how this next phase plays out. Apparently, a bunch of other people are too.