Trae tha Truth has been the king of the streets in his beloved hometown of Houston for some time now. With the release of his latest mixtape, ‘I Am King,’ the Hustle Gang rapper ensures that the rest of the world embraces the title.

It isn’t just something he’s saying either; Trae truly believes in the attributes it takes to be a “king.” “Of course, you need the crown,” he tells The Boombox with a laugh. “I would say the heart of a lion -- those are the ones who go through it the most because they wear their problems as well as everyone else’s on their shoulders. Last but not least, is that they take care of their people, their family, their palace and be willing to go all out to protect it all.”

As head of the ABN collective, Trae tha Truth is taking care of his own by keeping several different projects in the works at once. Most recently, he and cartoonist Jay Sugarman signed a deal with the production company What the Funny and comedian Marlon Wayans to take his popular 'Adventures of Trae tha Truth' cartoon to new heights.

He says that his involvement with the animated clips only came after seeing Sugarman’s all-inclusive ‘Welcome to the South’ cartoon years ago. “I liked it,” he recalls. “So I just called him to congratulate him, ‘This is dope. I f--- with it,’ at the same time, he’s telling me, ‘That’s dope, I f--- with your music.’ From there, we just tried some s--- and it spiraled into what we have now.”

“Right now it’s going at a rapid pace,” Trae adds. “What’s so funny is that people will either run up to me talking about the ‘I Am King’ project or they run up to me like, ‘Aww man. I die laughing at your cartoon.’ It’s two different worlds.”

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It’s his desire to always have options available -- that’s what keeps Trae inspired. He has room to do the unexpected, after all. He’s been the director of his career since its inception, down to the featured artists on his tracks.

Due to the respect earned in H-Town, Trae’s built quite a Rolodex of artists he can call on at any time to come through and grace records, from Jadakiss to Da Brat. The 33-year-old rhymer carefully thinks about his collaborations before they happen. He seems to have a knack for which artist will fit on a record best --  a trait prominently displayed on ‘I Am King.’

“I’m always working so I always have tracks,” he shares. “Some of them are older, like the one with Lil Reese, but when I started working on ‘I Am King,’ I sat up for about two weeks, just critiquing and putting different formulas to it, to make it what it was.”

“A lot of people and artists, including Tip, will ask me why I don’t do any A&R-ing because for some reason I just got it in my head, when I hear certain tracks, I can tell you instantly who should be on there. It’s just something I’ve been blessed to be able to do.”

‘I Am King’ boasts levels of variety that remain unseen by many rappers trapped in a self-created box. From the summertime vibe of ‘Old School’ featuring his youngest son Baby Houston to the unyielding urgency of ‘Ghetto Life,’ Trae knows the importance of being able to mix it up on a project. “If you’re in that club mood, there’s a track for that,” he says. “If you’re in that riding mood, there’s a track for that. If you’re in that tame mood, there’s a track for that. If you’re in that ‘leave me the f--- alone’ mood, there’s a track for that. It all depends on the mood and what you’re going through.”

Trae is also considering voiceover work and possibly even filming his own movies in addition to plans of reconvening with Tip and the Hustle Gang collective this year. 2013 was good to him, from touring with T.I. and Lil Wayne last summer to his most recent production deal for the Trae series. One moment that stands out in his mind was being able to kick it with Andre 3000 while on tour. “He was familiar with everything that I had going on. That was a blessing. He was cool as hell, man. Very humble dude,” Trae shares.

Then there is the rapper’s non-profit organization, Angels By Nature, which is still a major part of his movement year-round. Even outside of Houston’s Trae Day activities in the summer -- the 24 hours appointed to him by the city’s mayor five years ago.

With a plate full of projects and new music in constant production, the one downside is the fact that a few of Trae's best friends aren’t around to help him celebrate the fruits of his labor. “My only regret is that my brother Clip couldn’t be here to see the success of what all I have going on now, knowing how much he believed in it,” he says. “And my brother Dog Man was deported and isn’t able to be here but they were two strong supporters.”

“The fact that I can’t have everybody that was in the picture here... Me and Clip were always together, you rarely saw one without the other and he passed before I even did the deal with Tip so...,” Trae explains.

More often than not, great experiences come with bittersweet moments. Trae tha Truth is doing all that he can to make the best out of what's presented to him -- the true makings of a king. “I don’t like looking at it as if I’m royalty,” he admits. “I look at it like, I worked hard from nothing to something.”

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