Trae Tha Truth & Mysonne go in-depth on how 2020's BLM protests shaped their new collaborative project, "If You're Scared Stay Inside."
In retrospect, 2020 will probably be considered a turning point in society. Between the election and the pandemic, things certainly changed in under the span of a year but it was last summer’s BLM protests that have pushed towards some of the biggest changes. Anti-Black racism needs to be dismantled within the system, and slowly but surely, the voices of millions have echoed through society loudly, piercing the ears of bigots who’ve been punching the air since November 4th.
Frustration and anger spurred protests across the world, demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Elijah McClain, and the countless other innocent Black lives that have been lost at the hands of the police. The trauma and pain produced art that encapsulated the time but perhaps, none have been as effective at capturing the essence of the 2020 BLM protests as Trae Tha Truth and Mysonne’s new collaborative project, If You’re Scared Stay Inside. Recorded in Kentucky during the Breonna Taylor protests, Trae Tha Truth and Mysonne locked in for a few days between really being outside. It was a therapeutic process for both rappers, who got to unload their feelings and use it as an opportunity to swap bars with an equal.
“We coming from a march, they shooting pepper spray and all this stuff. Then we got right to the studio, and it was a way for us to release, man. It was a way for us to release some of that trauma, that energy,” said Mysonne during an exclusive interview with HNHH.
Trae added, “Believe it or not, for me, it was like a breath of fresh air just to let it out. Because sometimes, pressure busts pipes building up. And then also, it's fun in the process because it's a form of me and Mys sparring. We get there and we just do what we do.”
Following the release of their new collaborative project, If You’re Scared Stay Inside, we chopped it up with Trae Tha Truth and Mysonne who open up about their experiences at the protests, George Floyd’s legacy, and Trae offers an update on his collaborative project with Gunna and Young Thug.
Read the interview below, edited for length and clarity.
Image via publicist
HNHH: There’s a lot of religious references in this project, opening up with “Prayer For Me” ft Pastor Stephen A. Green. How do you think your spirituality and faith has assisted in your career as a musician and activist?
Trae Tha Truth: We always give praise where praise is supposed to be due. We always keep faith and hope through him. So, I mean, I'm in the right place with him, man. You know, I talk to him every night at midnight. We hold a one-on-one conversation because we've been through situations that we weren't promised to be here and we are still here. You know, from being shot to all kinds of different situations that I wasn't supposed to be in and we still here. So, God is always gonna be key.
Mysonne joins calls.
T: What's up Mys?
Mysonne: What's going on, king?
T: I'm cool.
M: Word, right there. Yes, sir. God is always key.
Mysonne, thanks for joining us. It’s a pleasure to speak to you.
M: It's a pleasure to be here.
How are you doing, first and foremost? I just got to talk with Trae a little bit. So I just want to see how you're doing out here.
M: I'm good, man. Out here in LA. Just finished doing some crazy stuff for my sister Tamika Mallory at the Grammys. Gonna be something special that she did and just about to do some more work. You know, hopefully, meet up with big uncle Snoop Dogg in a little while and build with him, but I'm good.
Perfect. I'll ask you the same question I asked Trae before you hopped on. How do you think your spirituality and faith has assisted in your career as a musician and activist? I just mean, how much of a force has your faith in God and a higher power played in moving forward through all the trials and tribulations you've experienced?
M: Ah man, that’s an excellent question. I think during my whole life, I always felt his presence in my life. As a young boy, even when dealing with poverty and all types of things in my community, I just always felt God's presence around me. And I felt at some point, he was gonna always take care of me. No matter what I went through, he always gave me strength and energy, to persevere through those things. From going to prison, you know, coming home -- a lot of my friends, they're not here. A lot of them are doing life in prison. A lot of them are doing a lot of years in prison. Some of them are dead, so the fact that I'm still here, and I'm able to make the transition that I made from the streets to where I am right now, it's just nothing but God's work. One of my own slogans is God's work. I feel like all the work I do is God's work. It don't come in a religious form, but it's more spiritual, man. You know, I'm a very spiritual individual. Not really religious, because I feel like religion, it just sectors off how we're supposed to call God or how we're supposed to celebrate God. I believe when God is in you, and he really with you, it's your own special connection to him. And my connection to him is really deep. I speak to him all the time. I ask him for strength, he gives me strength. And he's always provided for me, he's always taking care of me. So, my spirituality, and my faith is paramount to anything that I've ever done.
Trae mentioned that this was recorded in Kentucky. So where does this project begin, take me to the beginning of where these conversations started, and how it kind of developed from the early seed that was planted?
M: If you know anything about Trae, you say one thing one time, and five minutes later, it's done. Like, Trae is not a person to procrastinate. And that's one thing I love about him. When he says he’s gonna do something, you know it's gonna be done.
So, we were in Kentucky, you know, already protesting for Breonna Taylor. We went to jail a couple times already, and we had protests where we didn't know if we was gonna make it out. You know, we had drones following us, you had all types of situations that were serious, and we just realized that we were living in a historical moment. We realized that this situation was something that would be documented and the story would be told about this for years to come. And one day we were just sittin’ here, like, ‘Oh, we're actually living in history and we probably should do something. Do some little recording.’ And he's like, ‘You know what? Let's just make an album.’ And as soon as we said that, the next couple of days, Trae called the engineer and the producer. And he was there, he was sending me beats, like, ‘Hey, we got this, this and that.’ And it was just instantaneous. It wasn't like a seed was planted weeks later, nah. We said that and in one week, next three or four days, the engineer was there.
"A lot of people look at us both and they see the hard exterior and understand that we’re both street. A lot of them don't even know the connection and passion that we have for the community and how we actually got there. So there's a lot of people that are confused."
It was something we knew was needed. Something that we knew we wanted to document the emotions, we were going through, just us as individuals trying to give people an understanding. Because a lot of times, Trae doesn't talk much unless it's about something that's really going on in the community and having to step up. So, a lot of people look at us both and they see the hard exterior and understand that we’re both street. A lot of them don't even know the connection and passion that we have for the community and how we actually got there. So there's a lot of people that are confused. We want them to know even though we are from the streets, and we represent that, and we understand what it is, but we definitely for our people. So, that's what you get in this music -- understanding the mindset and the hearts of both of us.
How did both of you guys find working on this project together? Aside from your own creative processes of approaching an album.
T: Yeah, I think it just happens naturally, man. There's no, oh -- we don't have a process. Oh, I'm not going in there [like] I gotta do 50 pushups before I record or tell Mysonne to drink a bottle of liquor. We just go in and do what we do. It's natural because it's just a form of us venting. It's a form of us getting it off our chest, you know what I'm saying? So, there's no ritual or certain process. It's just, I'm feeling what I'm feeling and I gotta let it out.
How therapeutic was recording this process in the midst of the protests and then just the trauma that comes from the news of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others?
T: Yeah, believe it or not, it was like, for me, a breath of fresh air just to let it out. Because sometimes, pressure busts pipes building up. And then also, it's fun in the process because it's a form of me and Mys sparring. We get there and we just do what we do.
M: Yeah, that's exactly what it was. Like, when you cook, when you are creating with somebody who has the same passion as you and the same level of skill and all of that, it challenges you. And we both love music. So we are both competitive. Every time you hear a verse, it's like, okay, we got to put this together, you know what I'm saying? So, he'll send me a verse and I'm like, I can't be playing around ‘cause Trae ain't playing around, and vice versa.
That gave us something else to release while we was dealing with -- we coming from a march, having to, you know, they shooting pepper spray and all this stuff. Then we got right to the studio, and it was a way for us to release, man. It was a way for us to release some of that trauma, that energy. Like, music has always been my release. I think that's what is a passion of mine because I'm able to talk about what I'm actually feeling. I'm not one of those artists that’s just going in and just saying whatever comes to my head or whatever. It's really me giving you my story. So, you know, every time we did a song it was us venting and talking about things that we were feeling, emotions that we're feeling so it definitely was very therapeutic.
T: It's exactly what it is. It's a form of us being able to let it out. You know, just coming up in the hood and just the community, in general, you know, you have a lot of built-up frustration. You have a lot of mental issues. A lot of stuff because people don't have the option to get it out, or to even release it anyway. So, you know, we were blessed to be able to do what we do.
Is there a song you recorded that came about immediately after a particular incident at the protests?
T: I mean, I don't remember exactly what happened. I know we were in the midst of dealing with stuff, but I think nothing. It was the thing where we will go out and then, come in and record. We only did that in the span of two days. So, of course, a lot happened, but it was way more traumatic stuff that happened in the process, before and after recording.
Can you guys just tell me the significance of the album's title? Why did it seem important to call it If You’re Scared Stay Inside, especially in these COVID times?
M: I think for us, that was one of the things because we were getting a lot of pushback, a lot of people will say, ‘Oh, you shouldn't be going outside,’ and this and that. One of the things that I said was, you know, I can’t be safe in my home while my people are outside dying. The work that we do, when you are on the frontline, it ain't for everybody and that's what it was. We were just letting people know our job is different. We’re gonna be on the front line every time. We don't expect everybody to do it. It ain't for everybody. It ain't for the faint [of] heart. The work that we do, the way that we live our life as generals, it's just not for the faint [of] heart. So, we were giving those people who wanted to bash us and try to make it seem like we're doing something wrong. If you scared, you stay inside. We ain't judging you because you stay inside. That's just not where we belong.
T: And also, they might get in the way.
M: Exactly. If you ain't out there really, because you're supposed to be out there, you basically gon’ get somebody hurt. So, stay in the house.
I’m not sure if either of you can speak on this directly but I know your charges from protesting at Kentucky A.G. Daniel Cameron’s house was changed to felonies. Are either of you able to speak on this in any capacity?
T: Right now, to my knowledge -- Mys can probably back me -- I believe the felonies have been dropped and dismissed. The one thing I'll tell you about Kentucky is you never know what the hell's gonna happen to you. So, as of now, I think that's where it at.
Trae, can you tell me more about Big Floyd's legacy as part of the Screwed Up Click in Houston and what it means now?
T: Floyd’s impact definitely is set in stone in Houston. You know, our relationship wasn't music-based. Our relationship was -- that was my partner, you know what I'm saying? As far as what we do in the community and stuff I have going on, he'd always be there.
I think everything about what he had going on set an impact, you know, even at the time of his death, which I hate [that] it had to happen to him. Because a situation like that, that's heartbreaking. But I will say, the fact that it happened to him, it opened the door and it changed ways and options for people to continue pushing forward, even though it may be hard in the process. It still definitely changed a lot of things because it brought a lot of people who did need to stand up, who had the heart to stand up, and just didn't have the kick to kick it off, you know what I'm saying? So, he planted that seed definitely, man.
"Floyd’s impact definitely is set in stone in Houston. You know, our relationship wasn't music-based. Our relationship was -- that was my partner, you know what I'm saying? As far as what we do in the community and stuff I have going on, he'd always be there."
How is his family doing?
T: They good. His nephew was with me who we raised like a son, probably about a week ago. His daughter's mother, Roxy, was with us last week when we were giving out food in the projects. I mean, they always around, man. I was with his little brother Cal Wayne about a week ago. So, I'm constantly in the field everywhere so I'm always around them.
Thank you for sharing that. I wanted to jump back into the project. “Somewhere In Between” is a stand-out for me because you both are reflecting on your growth. Trae one line that sticks out to me is when you say, “Crazy, how I handle my business, I'm so amazing/ I used to have a vision of going out while it's blazing.” Talk to me about that line.
T: I think it's the mentality of the hood. You know, when you come from where we come from, the only way you think you're gonna go out is -- how it was ingrained into us, if you a real one, is either dead or in jail. And on top of that, just being through a lot of the situations we’ve been through. Like, shit, that’s the way I just, you know -- at the beginning, as a youngster, that was my vision. Shit, these n***as gon’ have to be in a full-fledged war to get me out.
I think as time goes by and you wise up and you mature, when it's time for war and battles, you always be ready, but just doing it just to do it doesn't make sense. Because, you know, you have kids now, you have things to live for. At one point in time, I didn't have nothing to live for.
"I think as time goes by and you wise up and you mature, when it's time for war and battles, you always be ready, but just doing it just to do it doesn't make sense. Because, you know, you have kids now, you have things to live for. At one point in time, I didn't have nothing to live for."
Was there a specific point when you had that realization?
T: I think, as time went by, just realizing I was a lot more solid than a lot of dudes that I even used to look up to. And when I seen that, it was just like, man, I’ve always been my own leader. It was just like, shit. Watching my brother get two life sentences, [both of] my nieces mothers get killed. It's just like, I watched the after-effect of what people have to go through, and then, it's like me thinking in my brain, it's evil of me, living for the moment. That shit gonna affect everybody else, too. So, you know, I got to the point where I just stopped thinking of myself and I started thinking for me and others, and that's when a lot more wisdom started coming. So, before I go do some dumb shit that will jeopardize everything and everybody, it'll have to make sense before I do it. That's just something that just hit me instantly, right then and there. There's no time to think, you just gotta have the ability.
Mysonne, one line from your verse that stood out to me is, "I'm somewhere in between a trapper and a preacher." Can you talk to me about that balance and navigating those two positions?
M: I think that line pretty much sums it up. Like, understanding that when you talk, people actually listen. You know, that's a lot of power. I think the most powerful thing in the world is words. If you look at all of our leaders, and people who made history, it wasn't the people who shot the most people, the people who was the strongest, or who had the most money, it was those people who were able to speak life and change the perspective and mind frame of people. And, you know, I realized that power is a skill that I had. And understanding that I've come from the street life, I come from hustling, I come from survival mode, and where that was our only option and survival. The only vision of success that I seen growing up was a drug dealer. The drug dealer had all the cars that I wanted. He had the girls I wanted. He had the respect I wanted. I didn't live next door to lawyers, and doctors and attorneys. None of those people live next door.
So, I didn't even know that was a real reality. With a drug dealer, his level of success was something that was attainable. It was something that was close to me. You know, they say you gotta see it to be it. So, understanding that mentality, and understanding that that's what these kids are seeing and that's why they gravitate to it, because I know that's what I was thinking. They understand that I have the power to actually utilize my words and make people pay attention and change their perspective. I have a unique ability to connect to so many different worlds. To connect to the streets and connect to the suites, as we say. You know, connect to certain people that's not in the streets. And being a spiritual person, I’m able to balance that and be able to give a message that's gonna help these young kids evolve to someone else. So you know, I don't call it preaching, I call it teaching, but understand that it's a thin line between both because they hold on to your words, the same way that they hold on to the preachers' words. So, it's important to make sure that you tell them so.
Nah for sure. Another track I wanted to talk to you guys track two, “Who Raised You” ft. Jim Jones. Tell me about the significance of that song and why was Jones an important voice to have on this record?
T: I remember Mys used to talk and just see a lot of goofy stuff going on. It'd be, like, ‘Man, who raising these n***as?’ Like, bro, they ain't stand up for nothing. Like, everything they doing. It's just a total opposite of what the code is.
M: Pretty much. When I look at a lot of even so-called OG's, do they think that they’re influencing these young kids? You know, when I was young, even though we were in the streets and we was doing negative things, and our OGs was hustlers and all that, they was trying to protect us. When they see you was on the right path, they was trying to support you in doing something positive, man. They never tried to steer you away from positivity to negativity. When they see you was on a path and you was in the streets, they try to help you navigate through the streets, you know? And try to get you get you home, and try to even deter you from the lifestyle that they were dealing with. And these days, it's like, they try to recruit these young kids that may have opportunities, that have something else better to do with they life. They actually don't know you're trying to recruit them, and they have false narratives about what manhood is. So that track was basically, like, what kinda OG's did y’all have? Who raised y’all?
T: I think, actually, in the midst of the record, me and Jim was on FaceTime and I was just like, man, we’re gonna find something and make sure to get you on. We had summed up the project and I sent him a few records and that's the one he picked.
How did you guys get Black Thought on the record?
T: Just reached out to him. And when I hear certain beats, I can tell you exactly who I could hear on it. When I heard it, I already knew which direction me and Mysonne was going. So, who better? Who better than one of the greats. Black Thought is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to jumping on the mic.
M: And that's my brother, too. So, he was always welcomed to have him on the track, man. It's a blessing.
How is it like sparring with Black Thought on a record? Because as you mentioned he's a force to be reckoned with.
M: You know, you're on the record, you got to make sure that you're equal. You know, you got to make sure that they're paying attention to what you're saying, man, ‘cause Black Thought will drown you out, man. It's like the third record that I have with Black Thought. And you know, our Funk Flex freestyles are always comparable, even though I always tell people he got the best one ever. Well, he always tells me that mine is the best. So, you know, it's always love, respect but it’s always as a lyricist. You know that you have to come hard whenever you are on a track with him.
Trae, what’s the status of the collaborative project with Young Thug & Gunna.
T: That's been done but we never really got a chance to put it out. Bro, it's so crazy. So many life changing situations come about, whether it be disasters or anything. It's just timing, man. Timing wise, it got lost in the shuffle. You know, I have over 2000 unreleased records, man. I got three projects just sitting over here. I got an album with Mozzy that was supposed to come out a year and a half ago. It’s just timing man.
It's not to say some of the music will never come out, it’s just to say it's just all about timing. ‘Cause you got to think, even me and Mys almost didn't necessarily come out because look what we going through in Houston right now in the midst of both of us moving around the world. So it's just, with this, we felt like, man, we're gonna put it out there regardless of what it does just for the people who we can touch. That's all that matters. And that was the process of trying to get it done.
"[Collab project with Young and Gunna] been done but we never really got a chance to put it out. Bro, it's so crazy. So many life changing situations come about, whether it be disasters or anything."
So two more questions for you guys. I know you mentioned everything that was going on in Houston. How can people outside of Texas help?
T: I think, one, just to continue bringing awareness to it. And we need to keep pressing on some of these so-called leaders and people in positions that's over the whole state to make them be held accountable or removed. They can always donate or whatever they want to do, bro. It's a collective effort of all things. There's no certain one thing that can be done. Some people are able to help financially. Some people are able to help because they may have the means of getting the supplies out here or the trucks. It's just different things. And it's not just Houston. It's all over Texas. It's Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, everywhere.
Mysonne, you shared a flyer for the march for Breonna Taylor happening on March 13. For people who aren't going to be on the grounds there, what are some other things people could do to raise awareness and apply pressure on the politicians?
M: Well, you know, there's so many different ways, man. They have the Breonna Taylor Foundation. You can do local rallies. You know, sister rallies in different states, because it is the one year anniversary of her passing. So, you know, if you're in a different city and you can't make it to Kentucky, you can do your own local rally. You can find out how to donate to the organization. You know, we are still pushing trying to get the Breonna Law passed in every state. So, you can start to figure out how to be an advocate to start pushing your legislators to present Breonna’s Law in the legislation.
And it's just different ways. There's no one way, everybody has some way that they can contribute to this movement. And so finding out your way even if you just share a post on Instagram or your Facebook or let somebody know. And that's all you can do. You know, just so many different ways.
Dope. And any final words from each of you?
T: Make sure you check out the project, man. I hope you enjoy it. This is just a kick off. More videos to come, more creative things that come with it.
M: That's right, man. Please go ahead and get that album, If You're Scared Stay Inside. Mysonne and Trae Tha Truth. Brothers who really believe in fighting for our people and believe in standing up all the time, man. We appreciate all your support. Thanks for this interview.