Category Archives: CHECK THE LEVELS

The saga continues…Trae Tha Truth vs. KBXX (aka THE BOX)

Two Houston rap legends: Trae and K-Rino sat on panel Thursday night

Power to the people!

On May 5, 2010, Trae Tha Truth held a press conference announcing his inentions to sue 97.9 KBXX (a Radio One affiliate).  This past Thursday, Trae held a community meeting to discuss his case directly with the people in the historic SHAPE CENTER (3rd Ward – Houston).


Friday, Jun. 4 2010

by Shea Serrano

Thursday night, Trae and his camp hosted a Town Hall Meeting at the Shape Community Center to open a community discussion regarding the increasingly involved Trae vs. The Box saga that seems to grow more and more surreal each day. The objective of the meeting was to a) for what might have been the first official time, allow Trae to address the situation in a public forum; and b) encourage the community to plant its feet thick in the firmament of the “I’m On Trae’s Side” grass-roots campaign. It ended with the a series of boycotts looming for 97.9 The Box. A bunch of bulleted notes from the evening for you to peruse are after the jump, including more details about the boycott.


CHECK THE LEVELS: VIDEO from Press Conference (MAY 5)

CHECK THE LEVELS: some history behind the ban of Trae’s music


CHECK THE LEVELS: Lil Randy offers a peoples’ history of DJ SCREW

The Legendary DJ SCREW is a world-renowned innovator.

If you are like us, and from the North, you might not have heard of DJ SCREW.  I remember first hearing about ‘chopped and screwed’ music when all the Swissha House artists were making noise for Houston, but I didn’t know much about DJ SCREW’s legend until we sat down with Lil Randy, member of the infamous S.U.C. (Screwed Up Click).  In this CHECK THE LEVELS interview, Lil Randy describes the history of the man behind the myth.  It was amazing to sit back and hear how DJ SCREW put his Southern twist on hip hop, and in turn, changed the face of rap music in the South (and around the globe) forever.  A true innovator, in the  tradition of Afrika Bambaataa and Kool Herc, DJ SCREW (aka Robert Earl Davis, Jr.) surely carved his name in the tree of hip hop history, and even became a branch on his own.

Check it out:

CHECK THE LEVELS: Trae Tha Truth sues Radio One (part 2)

After Trae’s May 5th Press Conference, we spoke with a few of his supporters, and also got some of The Kracker Nuttz’s side of the story.  For those that don’t know, The Kracker Nuttz are a DJ crew that was fired from KBXX (in April) for playing Trae’s music during their show.  This firing was the straw that broke the camel’s back – leading to Trae’s official press conference/announcement on May 5.
Check it out:

SCARFACE (of Geto Boys) drops some jewels about why he is skipping the VH-1 Hip Hop honors this year

Scarface: A powerful lyricist and storyteller

I had much respect for this brother before, but now I have even more.  Damn that just rhymed.  I’m a natural!

In this OZONE MAGAZINE exclusive interview Scarface drops about why he felt disrespected by the upcoming “Dirty South” award recognition at this year’s Hip Hop honors show.  His thoughts are on point, in my opinion.  What do YOU think?

Ozone Exclusive: Scarface Feels “Slighted” by VH1’s “Disrespectful” Dirty South Hip Hop Honors, Will Not Attend

“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.”


[VIDEO] SCARFACE and GETO BOYS address the issue of Police Brutality through music…

CHECK THE LEVELS: Trae Tha Truth sues 97.9 KBXX/RADIO ONE…

It went down on May 5, 2010.  For those that don’t know, Houston rapper Trae Tha Truth (featured in two other blog posts) has officially filed a lawsuit against Radio One for banning his music from its station.  The story is deep, and there will be more to come in the future.  For now, check this video I shot at the press conference at the Harris County Courthouse (Houston, TX).

Also, check these links for more on the story:



CHECK THE LEVELS: RAS spends a day with Trae Tha Truth (PART 2)

Trae Tha Truth Bobble Heads lined up in factory.

Day two with Trae was interesting as well.  We got a chance to be with his folks during the Young Quis video shoot.  Later on in the day, Trae received his first shipment of Trae Tha Truth bobblehead toys, and immediately started giving them out to kids and friends in the area while he chilled at the tattoo shop.  He also talked with us about his connection to ‘the streets.’  Finally, we caught some footage of Trae getting a tattoo of his son’s birthdate.

HIP HOP HEALERS: Afrika Bambaataa


Many may know by now, but some may not.  Tiger and I call ourselves ‘HIP HOP HEALERS.’  What this means is that we use hip hop culture as a tool for healing ourselves, and those in our community.  We make no separation between ourselves and our community because we all depend on someone else, or some other being (plant, animal, etc.) to maintain our existence on this planet.  There is a ‘natural mystic’ (Bob Marley) flowing through the air, connecting us all as ONE.

Back in the days, when the South Bronx was known as the ‘bombed-out Bronx,’ there was a young man who recognized the power of hip hop, and its ability to unite his fellow brothers from the hood.  His name was AFRIKA BAMBAATAA.  Like many other youth in hoods around the country in the 70s, Bambaata was originally part of a street organization (what some call, a ‘gang’) known as the Black Spades.

Bambaataa rose to the position of warlord as member of the Black Spades.  As a warlord, Bambaataa’s work was to expand the turf of the Black Spades. Known as a peacemaker and an ambassador, he was not afraid to cross into rival areas to build relationships with other gang members, and with other gangs. Through his work, the Spades became a huge force in the city in terms of both membership and turf.

There were many street organizations in the South Bronx at this time.  Most of these groups were heavily influenced by the politics of the Black Panthers and the Young Lords.  Thus, most gangs took the over the act of policing and governing their territories.

Bambaataa ultimately took the leadership skills he learned as a member of the Spades and formed the Mighty Zulu Nation, which he named after the Zulus of South Africa that fought the colonial rule of the Dutch.  Today it is known as the Universal Zulu Nation, with tens of thousands of members in countries across the globe.

The Universal Zulu Nation began in the mid-70s after Bambaataa received inspiration from DJ Kool Herc.  He started organizing Block parties, and throwing jams, using his newly formed hip hop organization as an alternative to gang life.

Also known as THE ‘GODFATHER OF HIP HOP,Bambaataa’s legacy is a great one, serving to inspire and direct our work today.  We thank him for embodying the essence of hip hop as a tool for liberation and self-development.