Screwston, Texas

Trae Tha Truth's Decade of Giving Back

Trae Day marks its 10th year this weekend at Discovery Green.
Trae Day marks its 10th year this weekend at Discovery Green. Image Courtesy of Audible Treats
Trae Tha Truth is one of those stalwarts of not just Houston hip-hop, but Southern rap in general. This weekend will mark the 10th anniversary of his city celebration and mini-rapfest known as Trae Day.

And according to the rapper, who’s probably more known for his stoic look, this celebration is all about faith and hope and bringing smiles to kids’ faces.

He’s also encouraging kids to read and helping to finance college scholarships. It’s nothing new for Trae, the humanitarian and legendary Asshole By Nature.

Although he’s more apt to crack a rhyme than crack open a book these days (he admits to not being much of a reader), he still encourages kids to take part in the local library’s Hip-Hop For Literacy project, because as they use to say back in the day, Reading is Fundamental.

“[At] last year’s Trae Day me and the library teamed up the day after Trae Day to give away a few scholarships. There were quite a few of them," he says. "This year we did it again but on a larger scale since more people know about it. And with this being the 10th anniversary of Trae Day, we did real big and we’re going to be giving away a whole bunch of scholarships,” he explains.

Trae says he’s put money into some of the awards, which will help pay for a range of things from barber college and beauty school to a scholarship for young entrepreneurs and a recording-studio scholarship that includes a consultation with producer June the Genius.

For people who have been taking part in Trae Day over the last decade, it’s common knowledge the day is more than about one man. It’s about “being part of the community and the city, and not only for the celebration of music, but for the celebration for the City of Houston — everything that we’ve accomplished together,” Trae says. “It’s a blessing, man. You gotta understand that I’m a reflection of Houston.

Coming from where we come from, we happy to even have birthday parties in the hood, let alone have the whole city come out and celebrate,” Trae explains.

And even McDonald’s is helping out with Trae Day this year. “I actually just did a deal with McDonald’s; my album comes out Friday, July 21, and they picked a song off of Tha Truth Three to promote for the campaign of what we do in the community.”

It’s still a shock to the superstar, who says he grew up watching McDonald’s commercials and eating at the establishment. “Who would have ever thought I would partner up with them?” he wonders.

Just as important, though, is his work with the Houston Public Library. Trae says he grew up participating in different library programs. His favorite book, he says, was The Cat In the Hat.

The Houston rapper will also talk that good talk with 75 people following a scholarship reception on Sunday. Those 75 will have received a special pass during Trae Day to meet the rapper at the library as part of the hip-hop for literacy project from 1:30 to 4 p.m.

It’s his way of returning the favor to an important city institution.

“They would have reading contests, and you could get passes to AstroWorld and other things,” he reminisces. He admits that city programs like that, which still exist in some form, were key to his achievements today. “Shit, if I ain’t learn how to read I wouldn’t know how to rap, let alone write a rap.”

Trae Day goes down from 3-8 p.m. Saturday, July 22 at Discovery Green.

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Camilo Hannibal Smith started writing for the Houston Press in 2014. A former copy editor, he was inspired to focus on writing about pop culture and entertainment after a colleague wrote a story about Paul Wall's grills. His work has been published in the Los Angeles Times and the Source magazine.