Trae tha Truth Stands Up and Sues Radio One & KBXX the Boxx in Houston

Trae the Truth deserves major props for doing what far too many rappers won’t do. He was willing to stand up and smash on a local radio station that decided to ban his music over some petty nonsense. He filed a lawsuit against Radio One‘s KBXX the Box in Houston. Trae unlike many artists is clear in his thinking. He’s a strong community activist who’s netted proclamations from city officials and he’s easily one of the most popular artists in H-Town.. He knows that the airwaves belong to the public, and they are leased to corporations. In return a radio station at its core is supposed to serve the public good. What has been ALLOWED to happen over the years are a handful of people getting into ‘Gate Keeper’ positions and playing ‘God’ with people’s careers.

We see them charging people or demanding special favors for airplay. Many artists are required to do ‘free shows’. Why do you think every station around the country has a Summer Jam, Winter Jam, Spring Bash etc? The artists do these shows for free and the stations make millions.

Some stations make people pay them just to have their material listened to.. Not played on the air-just listened to..

Some artists are asked to pay for station vehicle wraps, purchase jackets for the street team. Some would pay for special fly aways and trips to award shows. I recall sitting in meetings where one of my  old bosses would go down the list of what was needed and put a note next to each item as to which record label/ artist would be paying for things. The list goes on.

Over the years there have been  a number of artists finding themselves at odds with radio giants who have been approached and asked to join a lawsuit or even testify before Congress or the FCC about unscrupulous radio practices, but many fearing a career ending backlash by the radio’s parent company refused. Most have been content to bite their tongue and remain silent which in turn has emboldened many of these station owners and personnel.

If folks ever wanna see a tough talking so-called gangsta, balling out of control rapper get reduced to a hat in hand subservient type of character straight outta the old Jim Crow era, show up when they go to some of these commercial outlets seeking airplay. To see what some are willing to do or put up with for airplay will make you cry. Its can be pretty sad.

Fortunately Trae is not one of those artists. He’s ready to put the serious smash on a radio network that’s notorious for hitting artists up.. and we applaud him..

Below is Trae’s press release and below that is the article in the Houston Chronicle..

Houston Rapper Trae Tha Truth files lawsuit against Radio One

Houston, TX – Houston rapper Trae Tha Truth (aka Frasier Thompson) will be holding a press conference at 9:00 AM on Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at the Harris County Civil Courthouse to announce the filing of a lawsuit in the 189th District Court of Harris County Texas, 201 Caroline, 12th Floor, Houston, Texas, against Radio One, which owns and operates Houston radio Station 97.9 KBXX, The Box.

The civil case alleges a consistent pattern of business disparagement, conspiracy and tortious interference. Defendants include Radio One, the radio station’s general manager Doug Abernathy, program manager Terri Thomas and morning show radio personality Nnete Inyangumia. Trae decided to file the lawsuit after the radio station officially banned his music from receiving airplay, and then began to interfere in his relationships with other music industry professionals. Radio One is the seventh largest radio broadcasting company in the country, and is the largest one targeting African-American audiences in the U.S. The Box is the only hip hop radio station in Houston.

The suit, which will be filed by Houston attorney ç., alleges that Trae was the subject of a radio ban after Nnete falsely accused Trae during an on-air interview of causing the violence which occurred at public festival which he sponsored. Ironically, Trae has arguably been the most active Houston rap artist when it comes to serving the local community. In 2008, Trae was honored by Houston Mayor Bill White and Council Member Peter Brown with his own “Trae Day” in honor of his outstanding community service.

After Nnete had made the disparaging remark about Trae on the radio, he later released a “mix tape” that had a humorous lyric about Nnette’s weight.

Trae notes, “I would not have filed a lawsuit, but when other people started being hurt by this ban, I knew I had to stand up.” The suit also alleges that a radio station staff member was suspended for a week and a half without pay for making a mixtape outside of work that had Trae’s music in it. The employee, in fear of losing his job, and the ability to feed his family, had to end his relationship with Trae. Another alleged incident occurred when rapper 6tre Gangsta, an artist signed to Battery/Sony Records, asked Trae to be on his new single. However when KBXX found out about the song, they notified Trae that the song would be banned. This resulted in the record community scrapping both the song and the music video that had been slated for BET.

Even Haitian earthquake victims lost out, due to the station refusing to advertise Trae’s appearance at a benefit fundraiser. Other alleged incidents are listed in the lawsuit, the most recent being the firing of the “Kracker Nuttz,” an on air DJ tandem, for their accidentally playing a song on the air by Chamillionaire, which they did not realize had Trae on one of its verses. Ironically, the “Kracker Nuttz”, who were 12-year veterans of the station, had the Number One rated radio show there.

Click HERE to see more photos from Trae tha Truth Press Conference courtesy of Matt Sonzala and Austinsurreal

Rap-A-Lot Records CEO, James Prince states, “I had been excited about being involved with the next Trae album, but with this ban taking place, not only in his home town, but likely also in the second best place for airplay, which is Dallas, it would be impossible to promote the album. This ban is sabotaging his career, because those cities are the foundation for breaking his records.” Prince adds, “Having run a record label for over twenty years, I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Says Trae, “I just could not let any more people suffer and be punished by the radio station over this ridiculous vendetta.”

Trae’s attorney Warren Fitzgerald Jr. comments, “We believe that the defendants have gone beyond the parameters of legally sanctioned activity in first banning Trae’s music, then going so far as to intentionally interfere with his business relationships and thus destroy his career. I find this behavior repulsive, especially for a radio station that daily champions itself as music artists “best friend.”

Trae is suing for general damages to his reputation, character, standing in the community, mental suffering, loss of professional opportunities, performance revenue, record royalties and other damages.

Judge Randy Williams issued a restraining order prohibiting the radio station from destroying any evidence, including memoranda or emails surrounding the ban on Trae’s music.

A preliminary hearing is set for May 14, 2010 at 1:30 pm.


Guess I gotta roll to Houston in the morning…


Houston rapper Trae: “You can’t ban the truth”

Trae addressing reporters at press conference about lawsuit

Houston rapper Trae Tha Truth filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Radio One, which owns 97.9 FM (KBXX The Box), citing “a consistent pattern of business disparagement, conspiracy and tortious interference.”

“I’m not only doing this for me. I’m doing this so that our futures and others can have a fair chance,” Trae said during a Wednesday morning press conference on the steps of the Harris County Civil Courthouse downtown.

“I need to do the right thing. I need to stand up. I also work hard for this community — very hard. You can’t ban the truth.”

Trae (whose real name is Frasier Thompson III) and attorney Warren Fitzgerald, Jr. allege that 97.9 FM banned the rapper’s music after he was involved in an on-air altercation with Madd Hatta Morning Show DJ Nnete Inyangumia. During a 2009 radio interview, Trae says Inyangumia falsely accused him of inciting violence at a festival celebrating “Trae Day.” The rapper, whose real name is Frasier Thompson III, was honored July 24, 2008 by Mayor Bill White and the Houston City Council for his community work.

Trae then mentioned Inyangumia’s weight in a mixtape, which is when he says the ban was put into effect.

“It’s personal, and it’s not business. There’s no reason to ban his music. His music is no more or no less violent than any other music that’s being played on the radio station” Fitzgerald said.

“We know for sure that people are being intimidated, people are being retaliated against for their involvement with him.”

Also named in the suit are general manager Doug Abernathy and program manager Terri Thomas. The suit alleges a staff member was suspended for making a mixtape featuring Trae and that popular on-air trio the Kracker Nuttz was recently fired after playing a song that featured Trae.

“Seems strange to say, but things for us at the station hadn’t been the same (or at least what it used to be) for a very long time,” the Kracker Nuttz wrote in a recent blog post. The group was at the courthouse Wednesday to show their support for Trae.

Houston rapper TroubleSum called the situation “preposterous.”

“As an artist, you vent through your music. We get caught up in our emotions, and we’ll write about it,” she said. “(Inyangumia) used her platform to voice her concerns and her opinions about Trae. He did the same thing in return.

“Things were said. Let’s move on. It’s ridiculous.”

Trae is suing for general damages to his reputation, character, standing in the community, mental suffering, loss of professional opportunities, performance revenue and record royalties. A temporary restraining order has been issued prohibiting 97.9 FM from destroying any evidence, including memoranda or emails relating to the ban. A hearing is scheduled for May 14.

Derick Muhammad of the Millions More Movement Ministry of Justice says they are “exploring” boycotts of the radio station and its advertisers. Matt Sonzala, a longtime champion of Texas rap and hip-hop who runs the popular Austin Surreal blog, called Trae “one of the more straight dudes in this scene – for real.”

“We believe that the airwaves are sacred and that nobody should have the power or the authority to use the airwaves against an individual to settle a personal vendetta,” Muhammad said.

“It’s a way bigger picture than (my music). I’m kind of looking at myself to be a sacrifice right now,” Trae said. “My son raps. Other people’s sons rap and sing. This can happen to anybody.”

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

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