Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Houston Chronicle Blog Post: Houston Rapper Trae; "YOU CAN'T BAN THE TRUTH"

By: Joey Guerra (Houston Chronicle Blog Contributor)

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."

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