Over The Weekend: Trae tha Truth, JMack and Big Hud at Trees

Trae Tha Truth, JMack, Big Hud
August 13, 2011

Better than: trying to act like Dallas has a hip-hop pedigree to compete with Houston.

There wasn't much of a build-up to Trae The Truth's entrance at Trees on Saturday night. After a particularly high-energy set from JMack and a funny offering from Big Hud that saw the rapper calling out a heckler in the crowd, the on-stage DJ who'd been spinning for 20 or so minutes before Trae's headlining set simply asked the crowd if it was ready for Trae to perform.

A modest cheer came in response. And then, suddenly, there he was. Trae, probably the biggest rapper going in Houston at the moment, walked on stage, a booming presence with an even more chilling voice.

On a Texas tour in support of his new release, Street King, which finds the Houston mainstay collaborating with Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Wyclef Jean, Big Boi, Lupe Fiasco, Wiz Khalifa and Scarface, among others, Trae didn't have any star power joining him on stage on this night -- well, unless you count his fellow Houstonian and ABN collective partner Pyrexx -- but he didn't need any either.

With a voice like sub-bass and 10-plus years of streetwise offerings at his disposal, the prolific and somewhat controversial rapper (his music is banned from Houston's KBXX-97.9 FM The Box), performed an hour-long set of songs from throughout his career, just barely touching on Street Kings, but fortunately making sure to include that album's standout, the Lil Wayne-featuring "That's Not Luv." Instead, it was a romp down memory lane, for the most part, including one medley in particular, which took the audience back to his earliest material.

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And perhaps as much was justified: Aside from club appearances, this was the first proper Dallas performance from Trae in a while. He didn't disappoint, although the night felt more like Dallas hip-hop giving Houston hip-hop a big hug more than anything else. There were shout-outs to the fallen DJ Screw and other Houston rap icons, and plenty of talk about that scene to boot.

As Trae stalked the stage, lights blaring behind him and Trees' stellar bass-heavy sound system once again proving itself likely the best venue in town for hip-hop, it became clear: Much as the Dallas rap scene has improved in recent years, it still can't hold a candle to Houston's, and not even in its hometown. But rather than compete, Dallas simply embraced as much on this night, following Trae's commands and instructions and, generally, just appearing happy to host him. Or join him on stage at the end of the night, per his request. Or meet him out in the crowd for an autograph session afterward. Or, really, whatever.

Houston 1, Dallas 0. And probably not that close.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I do like me some of the hippity hop. Only own one Trae album, though -- the latest one. Never seen him live before, either.

Random Note: JMack had the best line of the night, swiping Soulja Boy's "Pretty Boy Swag" hook while wearing a backpack and rapping that "This, right here, is my? Bag."

By The Way: Trees owner Clint Barlow wasn't present for this show; instead, he was up in Illinois, performing with Vanilla Ice at Insane Clown Posse's The Gathering.

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