Trae tha Truth is exactly what his name embodies, spitting nothing but the real in all of his songs. Hailing from Houston, Texas and putting on for the city every chance he gets, the veteran rapper has been blessing hip hop for decades, laying down the blueprint as someone who did it independently and who continues to elevate above all obstacles life throws at him.
Recently, the OG has been vocal about his struggle to gain custody of his daughter. Anyone who knows Trae knows he always prioritizes his kids despite other pressing matters in his life. Thankfully, he has music as an outlet — and he expresses himself fully on the unfortunate matter in his recent single “Hope It Don’t Change You.”
Fans also know Trae tha Truth prides himself on collaborating with like-minded, genuine artists. Last month (Feb. 11), he unleashed his project Truth Season: The United Streets of America, a 17-track album that featured some of the hottest artists to ever come out of Detroit — Icewear Vezzo, Babyface Ray, and Payroll Giovanni, specifically.
How are you coping with the custody battle for your daughter?
Man, I have my days. Some days I wake up, I’ll be alright and be busy. Some days I wake up, I just be angry because I think a week is a long time to not see your child — but imagine over 100 days not seeing your child. That’s a different type of feeling. Everybody knows how I am with my kids. My boys always here, they’re here now. I just flew in, they gon’ be here waiting for me. But it’s different with my daughter. She’s on an island by herself way out there. I feel she needs to be here with us.
How old is she now?
You said on Instagram that “Hope They Don’t Change You” is one of your most powerful records ever. The cover art features you and your daughter. What does the song mean to you?
It’s going to be one of the most important records. It’s going to be a really important moment in my life. One, because a lot of times when I do things, I’m never really thinking for myself. It’s a lot of fathers going through that. There’s a lot of mothers going through the same thing the fathers go through — whether it be from the court system not having our backs or giving us the benefit of the doubt … because they tend to lean to the mothers more. You do have a lot of situations where we get the bad end of the stick.
Like I was telling them earlier, I do everything ‘to the T.’ I make sure I don’t make no flaws so they won’t be able to say, ‘Oh well, that just messed up your right.’ I do everything ‘to the T.’ The reason why the song’s going to be so important is because, believe it or not, the outpouring of fathers and family members that’s been going through the exact same thing right now, they don’t have a voice. They don’t have nobody to speak up for them. They don’t have nobody to say, ‘Oh, they’re going through the same thing I’m going through” or ‘They feel exactly what I’m feeling right now.’ If I need to be an advocate to speak up for people who are trying to do right by their kids, I’ma do that.
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We’re all here for you and supporting you. A lot of people do say they can relate.
It’s a lot of people that can relate in many ways. If I get her, I guarantee in Houston it’s probably going to be one of the biggest welcome home parties you gon’ see. You know how I am about my kids man, so we here. See, that’s the thing. I get to talking, that’s the only thing I can think about. I be forgetting I got a whole album out right now, all kinds of other stuff.
Let’s talk Truth Season: The United Streets of America. How did you come up with the concept?
Last year, I had a real big year with accomplishments. From Billboard, Hot Wheels, the company stuff and Fashion Nova to Athletes By Nature, my sports league, Bumpboxx, the gym, the ice cream shop Howdy Homemade Ice Cream Katy. I felt like God was steadily sending blessings my way. At the bottom of the pole, because I was so busy with other things, I wasn’t able to focus on the music.
Now, since I’m accomplishing everything else, it’s time for me to focus on the music also. This is my season. I’m speaking it into existence. In the process of me making it Truth Season, I’m going to be reaching back to so many others because I’m one of the people, and I always share my blessings. Blessings come back tenfold when you share blessings with others. So first up, I did the Michigan edition. A lot of the homies who had buzz, who’s building their buzz, who had a big buzz and some who had none, I went and embraced them. Just as a big brother. Whatever I got, you got man. I want to show all my people what you’re capable of doing, too. Some of the stuff helped people maintain and go further because they don’t feel like it’s them against the world.
I did the Michigan. Now, I have the Texas edition coming. Then I have the California one, the Georgia one, then I got the New York one. We going. I got a whole bunch of other projects — me and Dave East just finished our group album. I got a group album with Conway. Me and Mozzy still have the movie.
Mozzy’s my guy!
You know, that’s my little brother. We have a movie and a tape done, too. Man, I got a lot of different stuff I’m tuned in with. Of course, a lot of my time gets taken up for pushing Bumpboxx. Me and the team there, we doing some amazing things.
For those who don’t know, what is Bumpboxx?
I’m one of the owners. It’s a collective of me, my partner Rob — well, Rob’s the founder. Rob was in China when he created it, I came in four or five months down the line. We’ve been going ever since. We started off so small, and now it even amazes us. You look on TV, you look at concerts, you look at behind-the-scenes — even the people coming out to the Super Bowl with the big radios, that’s all us. It’s happening organically, we’re not forcing it on nobody. That’s definitely a blessing.
You received the Change Maker Award at the 2021 Billboard Music Awards for your work in the community. How did it feel to be recognized?
I didn’t know how big it was at the beginning. I’m a realistic person, I’ma give it you real. At first, I was doing it because Killer Mike called me, and my partner Datwon Thomas (editor in chief at Vibe Magazine) was over it. I’m going to do it because that’s my brother. As it started getting closer, it was really starting to show me, ‘Hey, this is not normal. This is something huge.’
I do what I do. I don’t really care for awards. I’m going to do the work regardless. It got even crazier because Ms. Tina was the one presenting the award — Beyonce’s mama. Shout out to them, we align ourselves all the time. That’s family. You gotta realize, Dave Chapelle ain’t do interviews about people but if you look at it, he’s letting people know how he feels about me and other people. All the way from celebs to Nipsey’s sister, everybody man. I’m glad everybody took part. We were able to do things that show the world the type of things we got going on right now.
You were also honored with Joe Biden’s Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award. How was that moment for you?
Cool. It was another Billboard moment where I didn’t really realize how important or big it was. Again, I’m doing what I do. I’m not doing it for the awards. I’m not even thinking in that moment. I’m just doing what needs to be done. Me and my Relief Gang team. Sonia White ended up reaching out to me. I said, ‘Is this real? What is this? Everything’s legit?’ Because you gotta think, coming from the streets of Houston, Texas, we never think these things can happen. I have my own Hot Wheels — who would have thought I’d be doing a lot of things I’m doing.
Fans couldn’t wait for you and Dave East to drop. How did you guys tap in?
East been my little brother for a long time. Again, the relationship I have with a lot [of people is], it’s never really about music. Whether it may be me and East, me and Mozzy, me and Nipsey, me and J. Cole, me and Kendrick … it’s always been relationships. Even me and Andre 3000, we have relationships outside of ‘I need to do these records with you.’ So when the time is right, we always figure out ways to get it done.
You built this all completely independent, right?
Yeah, I just left New York. I met with quite a few labels.
Oh shit! Is it time?
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I want to talk about the cover art for Truth Season. Is there any significant reason you’re in a ski mask?
It was a picture that Dave Chapelle’s photographer Mathieu Bitton took. We were doing a photo shoot for my merch. Matter of fact, make sure they do go to my website TraeMerch.com. Every piece that people buy, a percentage of it goes to charity. We were doing a merch shoot, and I liked that picture at the time. The picture for the Houston cover will be a lot different. I’m one of the people, I pick the moments and moods right then and there.
What was your relationship with Young Dolph? Rest in peace.
It’s so crazy. If you go back to look at the history, I’m probably one of his first features. We go way back. Even the video, he definitely looked like a kid (laughs). We were all young as can be. Even the same if you go all the way back to one of Young Thug’s first videos, you’ll see I was one of the first ones with him. Shout out to him, that’s the little bro. He’s doing a lot of amazing things. It’s a lot of history when it comes to me and the music side, and it’s a lot more to come. The crazy thing — I have one of DMX’s verses. I haven’t released it yet. I got a lot of different stuff just sitting.
You’re saving that one?
It’s multiple reasons. One, I’m a realist, so I never ever want to seem as if I’m benefitting off any one of my brothers. At the same time, I want it to be a special moment. Whenever I come with my real album and it really counts, then I want to make sure I showcase them and keep their name going even more. I want to make sure it’s right. I’m not in a rush.
I think people know your character enough to know your intentions are solid.
You know what I realized? Somebody told me this today: ‘Man, you so solid. Even with you feeling how you feel about everything you’re going through with your daughter, you’ve never bashed the mother not one time.’ And I haven’t, because that’s not what I’m here to do. All I’m trying to do is fight to be the father that I need to be. I don’t want to interrupt what she got going on. Nobody should interrupt what I got going on … I fly from one coast to another coast just to spend time with my child. Look at any of my interviews, I don’t bash nobody. Even being banned from radio worldwide, I’m one of the ones I stand on my own.
Your fans have been supporting you unconditionally. It’s beautiful to see.
It means a lot to me because they’re who keep me going. The people in general are who push me. At the same time, I work hard to make sure I make them proud too. I’m a representation of them so anything I do — when I win, they win. It’s always important to me.
Is there anyone that you still hope to work with?
Can you hit up Tina real quick?
(laughs) She’s always been supportive, her whole team. That would be big for Houston … just what we mean for Houston. Other than that, I got music with just about everybody. There’s probably a handful of people I don’t have music with.
I hope your fans put the word out because Trae x Beyonce, we need that!
Yeah, it’ll be super big for the city. Nobody wouldn’t rock with that. We both make dope music, so we’d make it count.