Scarface Reminds Us Houston Rappers Are No Joke-He’s the Latest to Speak Truth to Power-Turns Down VH1 Honors

We have to show love and give props to Houston rappers for always stepping up to the plate over and over again, no matter what.

Case in point, when the Geto Boys came out, many did not know  but they would often lay out money and pay for legal counsel of those who were locked away in jail and needed to prove their innocence… I remember doing a show with Bushwick Bill and Scarface and them talking in great detail about the prison industrial complex, the horrors of the death penalty and why they had spent well over 200 thousand bucks trying to free those locked away on trumped-up charges…

What impressed me most was the fact that they were doing this without a whole lot of fanfare. This wasn’t a publicity stunt or anything like that. In fact the way we even wound talking about the topic in the first place was I had asked them about the uproar and controversy around the execution of Shaka Sankofa.

I recall when Katrina happened and interviewing Paul Wall and him talking about the work that him and many of his fellow Houstonian artists were doing to help victims. He talked about the clothes they had donated, much of it new. They talked about money they were raising and how they were doing what they could to make folks comfortable. The list of names involved was a who’s who. It was very impressive. I recall my man DJ Zin doing a number of radio shows from the Astrodome highlighting the efforts that many of the Houston artists had undertaken..

Speaking of Paul Wall we got to give him dap for making a trip to Africa,  learning about Blood Diamonds and then returning to Houston and firing all his suppliers to his grill shop until they could prove they weren’t using conflict diamonds..This was shown in the documentary Planet Bling.

I recall the 2008 election and getting involved in efforts to register the over one million voters not registered in Houston and radio hosts like Matt Sonzala introducing us to everyone from Slim Thug on down to K-Rino who all spoke passionately and insightfully about the day’s political climate and things they felt needed to be done. Artists after artist came through, donating time, videos, music and their likeness for a Get Out to Vote documentary we put together called ‘Texas is in Play‘ . Even though Barack Obama was making his historic run, many of the artists we ran into spoke about local issues and how folks could impact things. End result was record turn out,  all but 4 judges being swept from office and the ouster of a tyrannical sheriff named Tommy Thomas.

Bun B

We saw other Houston artist like Bun B step up. He attended the Democratic Convention in Denver and weighed in on important issues. We saw him recently get down and put together a successful fund-raiser for victims of the Haiti earthquake. Again Houston’s rap community came out in mass to show support..

Over the years we’ve seen artist like Trae Da Truth step up and do everything from visit juvenile halls to put on a festival to raise money and school supplies for kids. Recently we saw him put the gauntlet down and launch a lawsuit against powerful broadcast company Radio One and their station KBXX. This came about because Radio One decided to ban Trae and anyone associating with him after he responded in a mixtape with verbal jabs to being falsely accused by a station jock of ‘attracting a bad crowd’ to his Trae Day community event. Trae was not allowed himself to get bullied by some big time corporate media outlet..

The list of community events engaged by Houston based artists is a long one. The point being made is that many do step up to the plate, speak their minds and try to do what they think is right.

One of the people garnering a lot of attention is Scarface who recently penned an article for Ozone magazine explaining why he wasn’t gonna be apart of VH1’s Hip Hop Honors. Personally I’m  a bit conflicted because I know Fab 5 Freddy who produces the event is my man and he seemed genuinely excited that there was finally an opportunity to honor a region and many of the artists for their accomplishments which he feels are often overlooked.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvjcaVYJXn0

However, Scarface in his essay lays out some compelling points and left many of us both marveling at his conviction and re-assessing our own place in this culture we call Hip Hop.

Below is Scarface’s article.. Check out Ozone Magazine for more info..

http://www.ozonemag.com/2010/05/13/scarface-speaks-on-vh1s-dirty-south-hip-hop-honors/

Scarface

I was nominated [to be honored at the Dirty South Hip Hop Honors] but I declined to accept because I don’t wanna be classified as just “Dirty South.” I’m Hip Hop, man. I’m not going because I feel slighted. Even though it was a nice gesture, I feel like it’s just a pacifier. They’re like, “Let’s give these niggas down there a pacifier so they can stop feeling left out. We’ll make Luke and all these niggas down there look funny,” you know? “Let’s put a plate of fried chicken and some watermelon and let’s just do some nigga-ass shit.” (laughs) Quote, end quote. “Some nigga-ass shit.” Fried chicken and watermelon. “Shit, the faster we get this over with, the better.”

Honoring [Uncle] Luke and James [Prince] and [Master] P and Timbaland and JD and Dungeon Family is a good thing. I don’t wanna fuck their Honors up. They helped lay the foundation. More power to ‘em. I respect what they do and I respect what they’ve done for Hip Hop, but to put us in a category is disrespectful. Why would you categorize us as “Dirty South”? Why can’t you just honor some muthafuckers from down here and leave it like that? You ain’t gotta make us look extra country. We know where we’re from and we know where you’re from. We know where Hip Hop came from, man. We’re cool with that. I’m proud to be from Houston but don’t make a mockery of my accomplishments. We’re not “dirty” down here in the South anyway. This shit down here probably cleaner than the rest of the country, cause we got grandmas down here. Our grandmas don’t play that shit.

I was a part of the Slick Rick and De La Soul and Too $hort and Public Enemy [Hip Hop Honors]. I felt good about being a part of that. I went [to Hip Hop Honors] when they honored Def Jam because I wanted to be a part of that. I felt honored that they would even call me to do it. But this year, I totally disagree with how they’re trying to categorize us. You know how they make us look on TV? Like we live on the front porch with flies and shit flying around us, with our stomachs all big eating watermelon rinds? That ain’t us, man. Don’t fuckin’ make a mockery of us because we come from down here and you have no fuckin’ idea what it looks like. They’re gonna try to put us with some cows and just make us look fucked up, man, like we don’t know what the fuck we doin’ down here. We’re smart, man. Our life is slowed down so we don’t miss nothing. When shit gets moving too fast you miss everything. Shit’s slowed down here so we see it all.

I come from the era when New York and L.A. had the only Hip Hop, and they weren’t fuckin’ with us, at all. If you think I’m lyin’, check the history of Hip Hop. Try to pull up some footage from the 1989/1990 New Music Seminar. That’s what I base my whole fuckin’ life on: the New Music Seminar 1989/1990. They was NOT fuckin’ with us. We sold records all over the fuckin’ country and New York made a mockery of it. They fuckin’ booed the Geto Boys in New York. They sure did.

Back when Luke had Skywalker Records and J had Rap-A-Lot Records, they weren’t tryin’ to do no South shit. “It didn’t come from New York, son, so fuck that.” That was their attitude. Just because a TV was made in Japan, is it a Japanese TV? Or is it just a fucking TV? If a lightbulb was made in China is it a Chinese lightbulb?

It was hard breaking through. It was hard getting respect from the East Coast. We didn’t get no fuckin’ love from nobody. Fab Five Freddy came down here early in our career to see what we were really about, and I respected and appreciated that. But we been having money down here. We been rollin’ fuckin’ Bentleys and Ferraris down here since the 80s. Muthafuckers ain’t just started rockin’ gold and platinum chains. We had that shit in high school. Shit, we just now started running out of money. (laughs) That’s how long we been had money down here.

Everybody throws up a fuckin’ smokescreen to make the picture look how they want it to look, but I know shit stank. I ain’t no goddamn fool. I was there in the beginning. We were fighting the power for real. Our raps were considered negative rap, and we got a lot of fuckin’ flak behind that shit. And we were just telling the truth. We were under immense scrutiny, from politicians to radio stations to the media. Luke got up there talkin’ about “Pop That Pussy” and had naked hoes on the stage; they were going to jail and shit. The Geto Boys were talkin’ this politicially-charged, racist-ass, system-ran, gangsta-ass dope-dealing whoopin’-ass shit, and it wasn’t accepted in New York.

Eventually New York came around and started fuckin’ with us. But for an East Coast-based show to call themselves showing some fuckin’ love by making a Southern watered-down version of what the show is supposed to be or what Hip Hop really is, man, I feel fucked up about that shit. Because we fought harder than a muthafucker. When [Ice] Cube was on Hip Hop Honors, it wasn’t the “Hip Hop West Coast Honors.” Every part of the ghetto is the same mu’fuckin’ story. Hip Hop is one machine, regardless if you come from New York or Bareback, Africa. It’s fuckin’ Hip Hop.

But that’s just [my opinion], and fuck me. I don’t mean nothing. I’m just a nigga who fought harder than a muthafucker to get our records played in New York and on the East Coast period. And now all a nigga needs to do is fart on a record and it gets played. So it’s fine by me. I’m cool with that. I’m not mad about it, I just feel disrespected. Whoever goes [to Hip Hop Honors], it’s fine and dandy by me. But if you wanted to do a Southern-based show you shoulda got a nigga DOWN SOUTH to do it in the South.

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

An Open Letter to 97.9 The Box-in Houston-Don’t Ban Trae the Truth

First we have to give props to Matt Sonzala for doing what so many in his position don’t do speak up for the artist in his area and step to an institution that could potentially be a future employer. Matt as well as being the man who heads up the Hip Hop potion of SXSW is first and foremost a radio cat… So while many remain silent, he at least is willing to speak up and call crap crap.. The open letter below lays out situation surrounding Trae the Truth being banned from Houston station 97.9 the Box and several DJs being fired for supporting him. He also explains the extent of the ‘ban’ which forbids DJs from engaging Trae on twitter, FB, and other activities outside the station..

To be honest if a station has beef with an artist on I can get them not wanting to mess with him to a degree.., however when were talking about Radio One there’s always some things to consider that would make you say mmmm. Case in point, While Radio One is banning indy artist Trae for insulting one of their deejays on a mixtape, they didn’t seem to have problem keeping corporate backed, commercial mainstay the Game in the mix after members of crew were accused of whupping on one of their popular jocks (Zxulu ) at WYKS in Washington DC a few years back  sending him to the hospital.

The way that incident went down was Radio One banned Game from all 69 stations but after a week they rescinded the ban. The official story according to game’s manager Jimmy ‘Henchmen’ Rosemond was they ‘cleared it up a misunderstanding’. The industry whispers amongst radio and label folks was that label heads called and deals were cut.. One of the more persistent stories was the label sunk a ton of promo money into Game  and if Radio One wasn’t  gonna play him, then they  wanted their  money back’. Weeks later even though the official line was Game’s people weren’t involved and it was all a mistake, he had no problem bragging about the beating and even issuing a veiled threat on the remix of ‘Hate it or Love it’, which on occasion could be heard on Radio One stations. Talk about being scandalous. is this really about Radio One towing amoral line of sorts or is this about the money that’s something to ponder

-Davey D-

An Open Letter to 97.9 The Box About Trae being banned

From Matt Sonzala

http://austinsurreal.blogspot.com/2010/04/open-letter-to-979-box-from-matt.html

Matt Sonzala

To Whom it May Concern,

And as this is an “open letter,” I mean all y’all. All of you who are or should be concerned about the situation happening at 97.9 The Box in Houston.”

It pains me to write this letter, as this week, I along with every lover of hip-hop music and culture have already been hit hard by the passing of Keith “Guru” Elam. When Guru, the voice behind Gang Starr, passed away on Tuesday, I and plenty of other people pulled out our old Gang Starr records and celebrated the life of one of hip-hop’s most engaging and important MC’s. We listened to his music as we mourned our collective loss.

As I listened, I personally began thinking hard about hip-hop, and what it has become. Listening to his deft word play and deep, meaningful lyrics, often about street life, I felt a jolt of energy flow through me, like something I haven’t felt in a long time. I realized while listening to this music, some of which is 20 years old, how much hip-hop music has taught me throughout my life. This week – tragically through Guru’s passing – I remembered that hip-hop music is a serious gift to our generation.

And the loss of Guru made me think about how much we need to respect its power.

When I heard about 97.9 The Box (KBXX) banning Trae tha Truth, I honestly brushed it off. Fact of the matter is, Trae has the support of the streets of Houston. And I figured that an MC of his stature in the community probably doesn’t really even need a station like The Box.

Then on the night of Wednesday April 21st, I got the news that the Kracker Nuttz – a group of three incredible DJ’s who have been on KBXX for over 12 years, and were always rated extremely high in the market as they were not afraid to take chances and play certain hip-hop music that exists “outside the box,” – had been fired from KBXX for playing a Chamillionaire song that featured a verse from Trae.

I then realized that this situation affects a lot more than just Trae.

For anyone reading this letter who does not know what went down, allow me to try to briefly explain.

A couple years back, the City of Houston and its former Mayor Bill White, issued Trae tha Truth a proclamation and a humanitarian award in honor of all of the community work he has done in his city. The day this proclamation was given has now become known as Trae Day in Houston.

On the second anniversary of Trae Day, Trae held a concert and carnival of sorts for families on the campus of Texas Southern University. After a positive day of music, fun and games, and after Trae and all of the other artists, presenters and much of the crowd had left, there was an altercation that involved gun play.

The next morning, KBXX conducted an interview with Trae. On air personality Nnete made some off color comments that from all accounts I have received, implied that a situation like this would of course happen at an event produced by Trae Tha Truth. Basically she said that these are the kinds of people that he and his music attract.

Bun B phoned in to the station immediately after hearing that and told them that they were wrong for what they said.

Trae of course took offense to the statements made against him and on his next mix CD, mentioned Nnete on two songs. The rhymes were insulting, but not threatening.

After that he was banned from KBXX, and rumor has it, all Radio 1 owned stations.

This is the email that was allegedly sent to all staff at KBXX:

“URGENT: – Effective Immediately: DO NOT AIR: “Trae tha Truth” on our station. No interviews, no calls, no comments, no posts on our website, no station twitter, no station facebook, no songs in mix show no verses on remixes, or songs in regular rotation. No exceptions. The current online postings will be removed shortly. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors. Thank u. Have a great weekend!”

So in effect, Trae has been banned from KBXX because of some words he said on a mixtape that were derogatory towards a KBXX employee.

I can semi-understand that as I am quite often quick to defend my people as well (as evidenced by this letter). But fact of the matter is, this is America and here we are supposed to have free speech. A man insulting another man or woman generally should not merit an all out ban.

But if you want to go deeper, KBXX boasts day in and day out that it is Houston’s Home for “Interactive Hip-Hop and R&B.” Meaning, in some way they represent hip-hop culture, and have even built a “home” for and from it in Houston.

Well, if this is the case, then this “hip-hop” station should recognize that what Trae did represents the essence of hip-hop. Before you go and label me some backpacker, who is overly sensitive about hip-hop (and uses words like “essence”), you, KBXX, have to realize that what you say every day about representing for hip-hop is serious to many of us.

Trae did not come down to the station and grab Nnete by the neck, he wrote a song that took some verbal stabs at her. Trae did not attack or disrupt any business being done by Nnete in the name of KBXX or otherwise. He wrote a song that she found to be insulting.

Nnete used her platform, under the banner of hip-hop, to air out her grievance with Trae, and Trae used his platform, under the banner of hip-hop, to air out his grievance with Nnete. And for this he has been banned? That is extremely petty, and goes very much against what hip-hop is and has been since it’s inception.

Closing the door to dialogue is never positive, and that is exactly what KBXX has done.

In the time since the ban, DJ GT was suspended without pay for a week and a half for responding to a Twitter post that questioned his involvement in the ban (and supposedly mentioned his mother). DJ Baby Jae of the Kracker Nuttz was suspended for a week and a half without pay for making a mixtape – totally outside of the work environment – that featured Trae.

Two weeks ago, Houston rapper Killa Kyleon visited Michael Watts on his Swisha House mix show and shouted out Trae. The next day we learned that Kyleon was also banned from KBXX (though this has not been officially confirmed to me as of yet) and that the Swisha House show was cut down to only two hours.

Now we come to learn that three of Houston’s most respected DJ’s, who served over 12 years on the air at KBXX, have been fired for playing a Chamillionaire song that features Trae.

It’s just ridiculous.

In addition to these firings, other problems arise from the banning of Trae from KBXX. For one, Trae is an artist who can draw a strong crowd at a Houston club. KBXX is the main means of promoting a lot of the urban club nights that happen in Houston. If the promoter adds Trae to a show, he or she cannot have Trae mentioned in an advertisement, Trae music cannot be played in the advertisement, and nothing about Trae can be used in any sort of promotion on KBXX.

This limits many promoters ability to make money and survive in Houston.

It may not seem like much to you, but consider this scenario. In the days following the tragic earthquake in Haiti, Bun B put together a benefit concert with a lot of Houston hip-hop artists to raise money for the impoverished nation. Trae, being a popular artist and a man of the community was of course invited to be a part of it.

The event organizers were informed that KBXX would not support it at all, if Trae was a part of it. Trae decided to back out of the show so that it could be advertised and promoted on Houston’s main urban radio outlet – but still showed up in support of the cause.

This ban affects a lot of things on a lot of levels and is a gross abuse of power on the part of KBXX. This especially pains me, as for years KBXX was one of the premier urban radio stations in the nation. I personally saw their ascent, as I interned on their promotions team for their first two years of existence. For two years in the early 1990’s, I was out in the streets, driving their van and promoting their station. And at the time they were at war with Majic 102 to become the top urban station in the city.

They ended up winning, and winning big. You want to know how? They listened to and supported the community. They played records by UGK, Big Mello, Geto Boys, Scarface, all sorts of Houston rappers, many before anyone outside the city had ever heard of them. They kept it fresh, supported the city and stayed in the streets.

And they became an extreme force to be reckoned with in the Houston hip-hop community.

I’m not sure what happened after that, but it sure isn’t like it was.

So I have a few questions for KBXX and Radio 1, but first I have to make this statement.

KBXX – you are in the wrong here. You initiated this problem, and now refuse to work to fix it. Your ban on Trae, and the subsequent actions you have taken on fairly innocent parties, is reprehensible and cowardly. It’s also lazy. I realize that in the age of 140 character tweets and Facebook updates, genuine conversations often take a back seat. This situation merits a genuine conversation, and a solution.

Your half assed, one sided solution is not the answer.

My questions:

You play a song called “Mr. Hit That Hoe” almost every hour, every day. It plays like a mantra to the youth, spewing the nonsensical line over and over again “Hit that hoe, hit that hoe, hit that hoe, hit that hoe.” How do you justify banning an artist who instead of hitting a woman when he was angry, wrote a song and attempted to make a point, rather than hurt someone? (And yes I understand the “sort of hip-hop” meaning of this song, but still, over and over it states “Hit that hoe, hit that hoe, hit that hoe, hit that hoe.” And KBXX plays it, a lot.)

Do you recognize how far and wide this ban reaches, and how many people you are really affecting with this? Do you really want your actions to force supporters of your station to turn their backs on YOU?

Are you willing to talk to Trae and come to some sort of an agreement? Will you realize that you were wrong to fire the Kracker Nutz before some other station comes to town, snatches them up and destroys you from 7 p.m. – Midnight (or whatever slot they put them in)?

Will you admit to the city that you were hasty in making the decisions that you have made?

Or, will you tell the city the real reason you banned Trae the Truth? If there’s another reason out there, and it is legitimate, this will save you from the backlash that you are about to endure.

Seriously, this issue has been blown way out of proportion, and a solution needs to be found. I don’t really expect you or your corporate cronies to really care about the words that I am writing on this matter, but I do ask you to think about hip-hop, the culture that you misrepresent, and the effect you are having as a whole on the Houston Hip-Hop Community.

Sincerely (Thank u. Have a great weekend!),

Matt Sonzala

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

An Interview w/ SXSW Hip Hop Director Matt Sonzala

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Matt Sonzala

Matt Sonzala is a long time fixture in the Texas, Hip Hop scene. he started off doing a popular radio show in Houston on our sister station KPFT called Damage Control. Him and co-host Zin who now does SOS Radio we key in granting many of Houston’s now big time stars from Paul Wall to Bun B to Chamillionaire crucial exposure when many were content in  overlooking music coming from Texas…

Over the years Matt expanded his range and began penning articles for various magazines including the Bay Area’s Murder Dog. He then decided it was time to start highlighting many of the artist he was exposing via his radio show, by becoming the Hip Hop director for South By Southwest (SXSW) music convention.

We sat down and spoke with Matt about a variety of topics most notably all the artists that he’s managed to swing through SXSW. When he first started several years ago, Matt did a couple of showcases in what was overwhelmingly an indie rock showcase. He brought artist like Dizzie Rascal from the UK and gave love to some of the local Texas acts. Years later he had more than a dozen Hip Hop showcases and several panels with an impressive line up of artists ranging from members of Wu-Tang to Kanye West to Public Enemy to numerous artists from overseas. In this interview, Matt lays out the dense line up for this years gathering thus reminding us just why  SXSW is an important destination place if for any reason just to network…

In his recent blog found at  Matt laid out this line up for South By South West on his popular blog http://austinsurreal.blogspot.com

Wednesday March 17, 2010
La Zona Rosa, Austin, TX
SXSW Night 1
SXSW & OGPR Presents The Best in Texas
Chamillionaire & Paul Wall Reunion Show (Houston)
Trae tha Truth (Houston)
Chalie Boy (Hearne/Calvert)
Dorrough (Dallas)
J. Kapone (Austin)
Fat Pimp (Dallas)
Big Sid (San Angelo)
Kyle Lee (San Antonio)
Question? (San Antonio)
League of Extraordinary G’z (Austin)

International Hip-Hop at SXSW

La Melodia (The Netherlands)
The Arab Summit (Palestine/Lebanon)
Invincible Voice (Palestine/Lebanon)
David Dallas (New Zealand)
Young Sidd (New Zealand)
Mr. Sicc (New Zealand)
Bliss N Eso (Australia)
Anita Tijoux (Chile)
ChocQuibTown (Colombia)
Sweatshop Union (Canada)
Binary Audio Misfits (France/Texas)

Coolooloosh (Israel)
Adam Tensta (Sweden)
Looptroop Rockers (Sweden)
Timbuktu (Sweden)
LidoLido (Norway)
4th Pyramid (Canada)
K-Os (Canada)
Young Fathers (Scotland)
Nach (Spain)
At Versaris (Spain)
Bubbz (UK)

Friday March 19th
Scoot Inn
Duck Down 15th Anniversary Show

Buckshot
Smif-N-Wessun
Sean Price
B-Real of Cypress Hill
Kids in the Hall
Blue Scholars
9th Wonder
Promise
Ruste Juxx

Bun B

We talk to Matt about the history of Houston ‘s rap scene and how he’s seen it evolve over the years. He tal;ks about the key roles that artists like K-Rino, The Geto Boys, South park CoalitionTrae, Chingo Bling  and many more have played. He touched upon the innovative tech savy nature of artists like Chamillionaire who recently headlined a Silicon valley tech gathering. he also talked about the nurturing role icons like Bun B has played toward younger artists..  We also talked about the hustling independent aspect of Houston artists and compared the way the Bay Area has approached the game in similar fashion.

Below are the links to the podcast Interview w/ Matt Sonzala

Interview w/ Matt Sonzala pt1

Interview w/ Matt Sonzala pt2

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here’s an interview from a couple of years back…

http://24hrgrind.com/matt.htm

We get to square off with Matt Sonzala. One of Houston Texas finest pioneers in bringing the underground to the surface in all types of formats ranging from his radio show on KPFT every Wednesday at midnight to amazing interviews in Murder dog magazine among other things..

OTG – Let’s start this off right. What’s your name? What’s your hood? And what do you claim?

Matt Sonzala. I live just outside the Heights, two blocks exactly from the car lot where Rap-A-Lot Records first started. The Heights is like just below the north side, kind of north edge of the center of the city. I claim the whole world because I want it all. I get real restless and want to live everywhere sometimes to be real with you man.

OTG – How does it feel to be a pioneer in covering the sound that has been coming out of the state of Texas these past years? You have the Damage Control radio, the publishing’s and the infamous HoustonSoReal blog. Let’s not forget the photography. That sure is a lot of media and format to cover?

Man like I said, I get restless. I can’t handle having a real job. I don’t like doing the same shit day after day, so I just tackle whatever comes at me. I started writing in 1989 or so, and really began writing about Houston, and Rap-A-Lot in particular for magazines out here like Texas Beat in 1991, so I been on it for quite a while. It feels good to be me right now though because seriously I’m starting to get some recognition and some real money. Before I didn’t want to be recognized, and I’m still not the type who just goes way out there, but I really like that my work is being recognized and respected right now.

I’m completely obsessed with radio and wish that more of it was better. I used to sit up at night and like, turn the dial on the radio so slowly, trying to find the faintest trace of a station and check what they were playing. I’m originally from Pennsylvania, so when I was real young I’d hear stations in Canada, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, cuz I lived close to Lake Erie so there was not much in between me and those places, I could hear all kinds of shit.

And in high school I started writing for the school paper, publishing my own little Xeroxed fanzines and taking pictures with the schools camera. It was like my hall pass, I’d grab the camera and tell teachers I was on my way to take a photo for the school paper. I was just always way into radio, reading/writing and taking photos. Now I make money doing the writing and photography and have a lot of fun doing the radio. I need to turn that shit into a paid gig, but I’d have to have full control like on Damage Control.

OTG – How did you get your spot on Damage Control radio?

Man I did my first radio show in like 1989, a reggae show in Pennsylvania. Then in like 1991 I had been in Houston for two years and my man Richard Hanna asked me if I wanted to try and do a show on KPFT. I said yes and like 6 months later they put us on and we played hip hop from 3 a.m. – 5 a.m. Monday mornings. That later became Strictly Hip-Hop Sundays when they gave us the midnight till 5:30 a.m. slot. Then I moved to New York in 1994, and moved around a lot throughout the 90’s. New York, Austin, Amsterdam, Austin again, Chicago and then back to Houston in 2001. When I got back KPFT was going through some changes so I just got with a bunch of the people there, got them on my side and bugged the Program Director till I got a show. That was like 6 months after moving back here. I just stayed on them like crazy till I got it.

OTG – How did that start and how do you feel about what it has grown into?

Really it started as an idea to give independent artists from Houston and the south some real airtime. Some time to expose their music and talk about things outside the typical box of the typical rap interview. I feel like we’ve definitely achieved that. The show is sometimes half talk, half music because we really want to introduce these artists to the public. Most hip hop shows on college or community radio only play the hot 12”s from the indy hip hop cats from New York, LA, or whatever, the shit they report to in CMJ and whatever the indy college promoters send out. They really think they are breaking things when they play B Sides from major label records and shit like that. I don’t give a fuck about that. I want to hear what is going on here and now. I don’t really even talk to any record promoters at all, ever. This dude out here Lump is my man, I talk to him, but he knows we play local music and respects that. I talk to my girl Jessica at Spectre, but she knows we don’t play half that shit cuz we just don’t have time. We only have a couple hours a week and man, we have like 100-200 people pass through the studio literally every week. Most wanting something played or a chance to talk. We try to accommodate them all. We don’t need promo people to tell us things, the artists walk right up to us. I prefer it that way.

OTG – Last but not least did Bizzy Bone scare you?

Naw I had fun that night man. It was crazy all around yeah, but it was fun to me. I mean shit we have like 100 people in the studio at any one time. Nothings gonna jump off cuz we all respect what the station and the show represents so it’s all good. And he was real cool actually, fairly cordial, just a little strange. I wasn’t trippin’. I was glad he was there. You heard it.

OTG – How do you feel about watching underground artists from Houston climb into the spotlight of main stream America? It must be weird seeing Paul Wall on MTV talking about sittin sideways!

Man I’m happy about it. Real happy about it. I want these guys and girls to gain fame and make money. I wish more of them could, but it’s a testament to the grind. Swishahouse hustled hard. Most of the folks with deals came from Swishahouse in some capacity. Not all of them, but a lot of them, so what can you say? They been at this shit for years and deserve it. There’s a lot more talent down here though and there’s a lot of people eating off the music so we really don’t need MTV and BET. And to be honest I only saw Paul Wall on MTV talking about that once cuz I never turn that shit on. I liked My Block: Houston, but aside from that I don’t think I have even seen 10 other minutes of MTV or BET this year. I fucking hate music videos. They destroyed popular music a long time ago. Especially rap.

OTG – Now do you think Austin TX rappers like Bavu Blakes who are a bit more socially conscious in there records will ever get mainstream coverage now that the door has been cracked for Texas?

Man I mean, I don’t think that all of these artists really have to rely on the current trends or whatever. They just need to keep plugging away, make appealing songs and just do it for themselves. I personally think that Bavu Blakes is one of the best MC’s in the world and he is hands down the best live performer in hip hop. New York folks a lot of the time get scared when they see him cuz he’s not the typical Texas rapper and they don’t know what to make of him. He shows people how this shit is supposed to be done. I think he needs to get on the road and grind it out in front of a wider, more open mided audience than the Texas audience and he’ll do fine. Seriously that dude needs to tour. Now socially conscious artists in general? Shit, Scarface is the most socially conscious rapper of all time to me. Bun B is way up there. People seem to accept their messages. I wish they did more message oriented stuff.

OTG – I noticed while living many places in the south and interacting with rappers from Houston that the hustle mentality of people from H-Town touches no other. How do you think this mentality was built and framed into the minds of this generation?

Man the shit comes from way back in the blues days. No one ever reaches out and helps Texas man, these folks had to do it themselves from Day 1 man. And always have. Plus there’s a lot of money down here. Even the broke people have money cuz the cost of living is low and man, people just generally support people out here. Its southern hospitality at its finest. We’re not just rats in some race.

OTG – What artists do you think are next to come out of Texas that people should look out and have an ear for?

Definitely Bavu Blakes, this kid KB has a hot single, Cl’che is kilin’ em. SLAB is amazing, Rapid Ric is the best young DJ in the game, DJ Chill and DJ Ryno have some dope mixtapes in the works, there’s lots man.

OTG – What is next for Matt Sonzala? What new venteures do you having coming out that you are able to speak about?

I got the HoustonSoReal compilation and DVD project coming possibly on a major label, more shows in New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, Amsterdam, London and wherever they’ll have us. I’m working on setting up an international booking agency,writing a book and just staying busy raising kids and being a family man.

OTG – Last but not least. Who are your top 5 artists out of Houston of all time?

Man! I don’t want to hurt anybody but Scarface, Devin, Willie D, Fat Pat, K-Otix.

OTG – Thank you so much Matt for letting us pick your brain. Any last words? Shout outs? Plugs?

Man I just want to shout out everyone who has love for music and art in general. Holler at me for anything Houston. I got dat. matt@damagecontrolradio.orghttp://houstonsoreal.blogspot.com and listen to Damage Control every Wednesday night from midnight till 2 am central time on www.kpft.org 90.1 FM in Houston 89.5 in Galveston. THANKS MAYNE!

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