In the wake of the August 2017 storm, which hurled winds up to 130 mph, left 88 people dead and at least $180 billion in damages, Trae (a Screwed Up Click alumni), along with Houston DJ Mr. Rogers created #ReliefGang, an organization dedicated to rebuilding the hard-hit Harris County. The artist who was once banned from radio was suddenly seen as the most caring person in the U.S.
In a recent interview with Billboard, Trae spoke about pressing pause on his daily obligations to help his city. “Once the hurricane hit, my whole life went on hold to try and help others because they needed it,” Trae said to Billboard‘s Mark Eliber.
Now that #HoustonStrong citizens are moving forward with their lives, Trae was able to re-focus on his music career. The 37-year-old released a brand new album on Friday (Mar. 16) titled, Hometown Hero, which boasts singles including “What About Us,” the Young Thug-assisted “Don’t Know Me,” and “No Pressure” featuring Mozzy. The 12-song album finds Trae venting about the devastation that ripped through H-Town.
Before Hurricane Harvey cut through Harris County, VIBE briefly spoke to the rapper about his brother Dinky, who’s serving three life sentences for a capital murder conviction, and his son Nikko’s autism diagnosis.
On creating fresh and relevant content throughout his career:
“S**t, that’s where I’m at the most, in the ‘hood [laughs]. It’s just life, something that God blessed me with. I don’t have an exact answer. I kind of go with the flow. I don’t recycle raps – I have never said the same rap over a different beat. I don’t believe in that s**t. So being in this game for 20 years and finding ways to keep making it make sense, it isn’t easy, but the s**t just comes fluently.”
On his brother Dinky inspiring him to rap:
“My older brother Dinky, that’s who got me rapping. I was just following what he wanted me to do. He was locked up, and I would get those calls from him every day and he had a million requests for me to rap s**t. It was just me looking up to a big brother, and I just been riding it out ever since.”
On his son Nikko:
“My son was born disabled. I use it as fuel, just understanding that I’m not fighting for myself. I’m fighting for me, my family and fans. One thing they can say is that I went all out for them. That’s definitely what’s going to keep me going. I have little brothers, little homies that look up to me and depend on me. I make them proud, even with the community stuff. They know at some point during the year, they are going to get some school supplies or something major that’ll make the load lighter.”
On Trae’s reserved personality:
“Some people think the loudest mouths and the ones who talk about it and be in that light, that’s what it is. Any street solid street cat, we’re humble people and calculating. You have to take us there. But if you take us there and we go there, you have to be prepared to deal with everything that comes with it. We know what’s going to come with it when we hit that go button. Some people have it confused and believe thinking that these people putting on for the camera are the ones. People like myself and J. Prince don’t even talk. But we’re the same people that you have to know that if you play with [us] we’re going to take you there.”
On Hometown Hero:
“Life and struggles build characteristics of a person. Everything that I’ve been through built me up for that. My music is my therapy, it’s just venting. It’s good if it comes out and people embrace it, but if they don’t I can sit and listen to it myself. That’s my medicine.”
Stream Hometown Hero below.