Fatherhood will change you—mostly for the better. A newborn spells sleepless nights and frustrating mornings, but a newborn also spells the unlocking of the depth of unfathomable love. For artists, this love manifests in ways unseen to us fans: new recording hours, new creative process, a different relationship with press runs. Everything changes once a baby enters the picture and Houston royalty Trae Tha Truth knows this well.
Being with his children has taught Trae to appreciate life for all its worth and allowed him to create a legacy for himself. That’s the biggest lesson his kids have taught him: Find something to cherish in every moment together.
“Appreciate everything, man, never take nothing for granted,” Trae tells me. “I’ve witnessed a lot of people lose they kids, [whether] it be to violence or diseases. You gotta appreciate every moment you can.”
From that appreciation comes a change in lifestyle. Between his community work and time with his children, Trae doesn’t get to the studio as often as he might like. That didn’t stop him from recording an incredible album in 2019’s Exhale, out August 23, which features both a letter to his daughter and an ode to the late, great Nipsey Hussle. The album is as guttural, honest, and of-the-soul as we’ve come to expect from the Houston-native. Trae delivers each bar with an overstated passion. We believe in Trae down to the last breath. This, too, is a byproduct of his children.
“It makes me go harder, and it gives me a new set of wings,” he says of how fatherhood has changed his creative process. “When you a fighter, and you feel like you about to tap out, it rejuvenates you.”
Considering how much heart Trae Tha Truth placed on wax, it’s not difficult to imagine him keeping his children close to the chest as he went through the process of making Exhale. The album, true to its title, feels like breathing, a necessary addition to the man’s rap canon.
“It motivates you to be a better man than you ever been,” Trae waxes on being a dad. Spitting some of the most touching bars of his life on Exhale, we come to believe this fact to be true. Fatherhood will rock your world in the best possible way, pushing you to be the man you were always meant to be. Moreover, with the prospect of no longer living for solely yourself, as an artist, it becomes easier to create cathartic and giving music.
On that front, the Nipsey Hussle tribute on Exhale is more than an ode to the fallen Crenshaw hero; it is a gesture to the entire community Nipsey touched, and to Nip’s family. There is tenderness and an astonishing amount of heart to each lyric. Over a somber piano line, Trae admits to crying and wishing Nip’s passing was a lie. He admits to not being strong enough for this loss. The bite in his delivery comes from a place of irreverence for the tragic truth of the matter. Spitting about being hopeless, Trae sounds beyond devastated but incensed enough to carry on Nipsey’s vast legacy.
With that, Trae and I get on the topic of lessons. While his children teach him to love life for all it’s worth, he hopes to teach them to move with morality. “Stay solid, and you gotta stand for something at all times,” he details. “Even if that means you’re gonna be the outcast.” Trae’s unwavering and unabashed nature is what makes him such an engaging rapper, but also, what makes him a formidable man and father.
This is most evident on “Letter 2 Truth,” a note to his daughter, where Trae pours his heart out on her behalf. He recounts falling in love with her at first touch, finally having a daughter to adore, and promising to love her with his whole self. It’s a touching moment that humanizes the rapper whose hard persona often goes unchecked.
That is how fatherhood is making a man of Trae Tha Truth: it’s pushing him to show his genuine emotions at all times. For that reason alone, we should celebrate Trae and look to him as an example.
With that, Trae has but one note for expecting fathers: Get ready.
“It’s gon’ be a hell of a ride, and that’s good and bad,” Trae tells me with a hearty laugh. “One hell of a ride.”