Houston Calling

SXSW preview: Tre9

March 4th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Most hip hop artists are hard workers, but rapper Tre9 seems to work harder than most. Besides his music, Tre9 also runs his own Houston-based record label (he started Much Luvv Records in 1998), produces music, puts together the annual All Eyes On Me Achievement Awards, and continues work on “The Fence,” a documentary about Christianity and hip hop — two things the rapper cherishes.

At this year’s South By Southwest, Tre9 — along with journalist and The Fence co-director Sketch — hosts a slew of “holy hip hop” artists at an official showcase on Saturday, 3.21.09. Tre9 (aka Bobby Herring) recently answered a few questions for Houston Calling.

Houston Calling: You’ve never played SXSW before — are you excited about the opportunity to have a Christian hip hop showcase this year? How did that come about?

Tre9: I am extremely excited to be a part of such a huge festival like this. Mainly because it is not a Christian music festival, it is a festival which includes all genres of music. Anytime we can take our message to a general audience, I get excited and I am challenged as well. It is one thing to entertain Christians, it is another to be able to hold the attention of those who aren’t. So the challenge lies in keeping this type of crowd just as engaged in your set as the hundreds of other hip hop acts in the conference. Without question, the line-up we have this year won’t have any problem doing that.

It all begins with Matt Sonzala, who I met here in Houston at 90.1FM KPFT during a radio interview. He moved to Austin and was put over the hip hop showcases for SXSW. Since he attended our 7th Annual All Eyes On Me Achievement Awards in 2007, I believe he was impressed by the workshops which he was a part of. I think he got a bit more understanding of the heart of the Christian hip hop movement and felt the need to help us take it to a mainstream audience, which we strongly desire to do. Sketch is the organizer of our workshops, and upon receiving an email from Matt, he forwarded it to me. Sketch, Jimmie McDowell, and I thought it would be a great opportunity and we began organizing.

HC: Obviously, you’ve got experience organizing shows, with the annual Christian hip hop awards show in Houston. How did you decide which acts would be on the inaugural SXSW bill? You’ve got some from Memphis, San Diego, and some Houston and Austin guys too, right?

Tre9: Well, to be honest, it was a no-brainer to utilize some of the livest Christian artists in Texas, considering they would promote it heavy and draw attendance from their local fan base. This is why you see Tex-natives Dooney (Dallas), B.L.U.E. (Austin), The W.A.R.R.I.O.R.S (Austin), and the entire Much Luvv Records roster (S.O.M., Von Won, Gifted, CY & ColCutz of Houston). Outside of Texas, Syntax Records wanted to be a part and when they spoke of Braille, Kaboose, and Red Cloud we knew they offered a unique sound that would further show the diversity of our genre. Finally, the undeniable talent of our most popular emcee in Christian hip hop today is Lecrae. When we were able to lock him in, we knew we had a line-up that was sure to pack that place out with ease. As a matter of fact, there isn’t enough space in that building to hold the amount of people that will want to attend this concert. It only holds a maximum of 140 people, we could easily pull 400 in. I don’t know how all that is going to pan out, but at least we will have a full house.

HC: What can you tell me about the documentary you’ve been working on? Word is you’ve got a lot of famous (and infamous) people on it — Bushwick Bill, for example. I figured you’d throw him on the SXSW bill for sure — just for some name recognition, if nothing else…

Tre9: As for Bushwick, he is out of touch right now. I don’t even know how to reach him. I was in constant communication with him for a year and a half, assisting him with his album, and then once it was completed, we lost touch. I am sure he will pop up on me again, but for now I definitely am not trying to chase him around. As far as his name recognition, we won’t need it to pack this 140-capacity building.

As for The Fence documentary, all I can say is a huge task to take on, but a phenomenal DVD it will be. With Sketch contributing to the direction of the documentary, we have made progress, but have a long way to go on completion. We have learned so much about our industry that I felt compelled to put out a film that would reflect the issues we have within the Christian rap community, and shed some light the secular/mainstream artists that profess to be Christians. The documentary has everyone from Christin rappers such as Lacrae, KJ 52, Tedashii, & Braille to mainstream artists such as Rick Ross, David Banner, Paul Wall, Chamillionaire, and Too Short. Visit www.fencedocumentary.com for the trailer.

HC: What would you say to people who ask why they should come see the showcase?

Tre9: Because with all the bad news regarding the economy, which you are hearing in the news everyday, why would you want to go listen to other rappers bragging on how big their house it, how many women they got, and how they have so much money that they can make it rain on you. I would think people are in search of some authenticity, truth, hope, and straight up real hip hop. Our music offers that, it is one of the few venues you can watch and truly feel like what you see is what you get: absolute truth through music.

HC: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s SXSW?

Tre9: Being in the company of fellow MC’s who share the same vision of reaching people through hip hop. Of course, I love being on stage, especially with the rock band Laden (That was a surprise, but oh well) and the Much Luvv Fam, but ultimately I feel like this is a part of history for Christian hip hop. We have never been given this opportunity before, yet it has arrived and we are doing it, finally.

HC: Are there any acts in particular that you’re looking forward to seeing during SXSW?

Tre9: I haven’t really peeped the main headliners, but as far as the others, I don’t know many of them.

HC: Are you hoping to make this an annual showcase event? What’s your goal for the showcase?

Tre9: If all goes well and we are asked to come back, of course. My ultimate industry goal is to grow the Christian hip hop industry in both Christian and mainstream music markets. I feel this is one more avenue to accomplish that.

Tre9 performs at an South By Southwest official holy hip hop showcase at Carver Museum Boyd Vance Theater (1165 Angelina St.) on Saturday, 3.21.09. For more information on Tre9’s music and projects, visit his MySpace page. For more about the All Eyes On Me Achievement Awards, visit www.alleyesonmeawards.com.

Tags: Interviews · Music · Show listings · SXSW

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 SXSW previews // Mar 21, 2009 at 4:38 pm

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