Aftermath: Trae Day (Pre-Shooting) at TSU Stadium

[Note: These are the notes from Trae Day prior to that whole pesky "six people getting shot" thing. For more info on that, check out our reports here and here.]

Aftermath and hip-hop blogger Rizoh from The Rap Up arrived nearly two hours after Trae Day was supposed to start, and we're still too early. There are maybe 200 people here. On the bright side, at least it's really hot.

There are two ambulances parked near the entrance of the parking. Always a good sign. At the time, this seemed like an easy joke to make. Knowing what eventually happened, though, we're fairly certain this is actual proof that we're psychic. Or possibly racist. Whatever. Still called it.

Horrible idea: wearing pants. There's a cop dressed head to toe in black. He looks really cool, until I notice that he has a friggin' baby mohawk. Geez. Even cops are hipsters nowadays.

There's a booth out here promoting Venom energy drink. Naturally, they're blaring Chamillionaire, so kudos for making that connection. But Aftermath isn't so sure we're interested in drinking anything venom-related. That might be the second-worst name for a drink I've ever heard, right behind Rat Piss soda. Never mind - there's no such thing as Rat Piss soda, so Venom is officially the worst drink name of all time.

Man, it is cooking out here now. But not so hot that you can't bring your months-old infant daughter out to enjoy the festivities.

Some guy is wearing a shirt that simply reads "FUCK YA'LL I'M FROM HOUSTON." No kidding, dummy. That's hardly as incendiary a piece of commentary as he assumes it to be, considering we're a) in Houston; b) at a show put on by a man dubbed Mr. Houston; and c) celebrating the day given to him by - yep, you guessed it - the city of Houston.

Earlier, Twank Star, one of T-Pain's new artists, was up on stage. Now there's a guy by the name of Yung Quis up there. Rappers really need to step their name game up. He's, like, three letters away from being called Yung Quiche, which is easily the least intimidating of all custard-based food dishes.

We have a sneaking suspicion that the lady standing in front of me trusts no man and fears no bitch. She's just got this look to her that's giving off this street-tough aura. Also, there's a large tattoo on her back that reads "Trust no man, fear no bitch."

Now a 13-year-old is on stage singing Beyonce's "If I Were A Boy." She does a good job. So much so, in fact, that at the end of her performance a hypeman onstage hollers into a mic, "Make some more muh-fucki-" before he remembers she's 13. Hype men are smart. One of the show promoters just said Trae is 30 minutes away. Great. Trae is still an hour and a half away.

Still not scary: White thugs.

There's a woman dancing in a very whorish manner while holding a baby. A few paces over is a 13- or 14-year-old kid pushing a stroller with (what we assume is) his own baby in it. Earlier we saw a guy in a tiny tank top getting what appeared to be foundation applied to his cheeks by another guy. None of these situations struck us as odd. We've been in Houston too long.

Looking Incredibly Comfortabe With His Surroundings: Mayoral candidate Peter Brown (above). And the award for Worst Parent of the Day goes to... the lovely young lady near the front row, thrusting her baby into the air to the beat of some D-Town boogie track. Beautiful. ...and we're backstage. No VIP pass, no bracelet, no nothing. Just a co-sign from PR mistress extraordinaire Nancy Byron. It's a good look back here. There are plenty of drinks and food we plan on swiping shortly.

Oh, good. There's a leashed pit bull skulking around back here as well. That's great, because nothing ups the ante at a rap concert like the possibility of getting mauled to death.

Okay, through absolutely blind luck I've unintentionally infiltrated Trae's camp and am currently sitting at a table with his mother's best friend, a few other relatives, and his pregnant girlfriend. We introduce ourselves and everyone is super nice, but we can't stop thinking about how there's a tiny Trae inside his girlfriend's belly. We remember reading something about how baby rattlesnakes are more dangerous than full-grown ones - that ob-gyn better be careful, is all we're saying.

We just saw Trae flash a real, actual smile. Note to self: buy lottery ticket on the way home. Shawty Lo (who is actually kinda cool) is back here. He's a tiny fella who definitely ranks high on the Rappers We Might Fight If We Were Drunk. Also on that list: Chamillionaire, Kid Cudi, T.I. and Hollywood FLOSS.

Trae is prepping to go onstage soon. He's constantly surrounded by a horde of people. It seems like madness around him at all times, but as soon as he starts talking, they all go silent. Nutsos. We can't even get our two-year-olds to be quiet for four seconds. Okay, there are no less than two girls behind the stage wearing pants that completely (and deliberately) show their butt cracks. Fashion has gone too far.

Rumors are flying around back here that Z-Ro is on his way. Our immediate thought: God, please no.

Slim Thug is up onstage now. He's wearing a pair of Levi's. So are we. Should Slim Thug not be available to make a cameo at your next party, we probably will.

It's friggin' packed back here now. Rick Ross just showed up. Some lady is hollering "Southwest" at him. That seems a reasonable thing to do. We're heading back out front. Peter Brown is onstage talking right now. The crowd seems less than enthusiastic. He should discuss his policies directed at governmental reform - surely that will pique their interests.

Trae is (finally) performing. He blisters through snips of several hits before eventually making his way to "Swang," arguably his second-best song ever (behind "No Help"). He acknowledges it by saying something along the lines of "this is the song that made me." He doesn't explicitly shout out H.A.W.K., but everyone seems to understand that's what he's thinking about.

Rick Ross, Bun B, Rich Boy and Shawty Lo are all onstage with Trae. They perform bits of their songs as well, but Slim Thug oes more songs than almost all of them combined. It feels really short. Somehow, Rick Ross's "Hustlin'" is the most well-received. Everything is going unexpectedly well.

Trae just announced that the fire marshal has apparently shut down the block party due to overcrowding. What the hell? I wasn't even aware that "outside" could get overcrowded. But then again, I don't take tiny newborn babies to rap concerts, so what do I know? Good time, all in all.

Seriously, before the shooting, things couldn't have gone better. There wasn't even so much as a shoving match seen. Slim Thug was respectful enough to leave out all the curse words and "nigga"s from his raps. (Shawty Lo apparently didn't get that memo.) At one point, Trae even reprimanded a few kids that were grabbing at a backpack that had just been thrown from the stage near some smaller children. Terrible that it ended the way it did.

Here's to hoping that this doesn't derail an otherwise needed event. By all accounts, Trae is a solid person - from the time he showed up until the time he left, he was handing out all kinds of things and doing his best to make time for everyone that he could - and deserves his own day.

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Shea Serrano