Matt Sonzala's Open Letter To 97.9 The Box: "You Are In The Wrong Here"

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UPDATE: DJ Klean Cutt has confired via text-message that the Kracker Nuttz were dimissed by 97.9 The Box on Wednesday. The DJs were let go in individual meetings with Box management shortly after playing a Chamillionaire song featuering Trae, but did not say that was the explicit decision for their dismissal.

Former Houston Press music listings editor and local hip-hop promoter Matt Sonzala sent Rocks Off and other media outlets an open letter to Houston radio station 97.9 The Box Thursday night. In it, he criticizes the station for its alleged ban of Trae the Truth. The ban, Sonzala says, extends not only to any of the rapper's songs but any mention of Trae at all on any of the Box's media platforms including its Facebook and Twitter pages, and has led to several suspensions and dismissals at Houston's main hip-hop outlet.

As have many others in the local hip-hop community, Rocks Off has been hearing rumors about this supposed ban for months, but the Box has never made an official statement on the matter and we have yet to talk to anyone willing to officially confirm - or, for that matter, deny - its existence. Friday afternoon, Rocks Off left messages for 97.9 Program Director Terri Thomas and co-Music Director J-Que and at press time had not heard back.

"KBXX - you are in the wrong here," writes Sonzala, who now lives in Austin and books hip-hop for SXSW. "You initiated this problem, and now refuse to work to fix it."

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Rick Ross (left), Bun B and Trae at Trae Day 200
Among the allegations Sonzala makes in his letter, which he also posted on his Austin Surreal blog, is that one DJ was suspended for responding to a Twitter post about the ban, and that the station refuses to run advertising on-air promotion for any show with Trae on the bill. Additionally, Sonzala claims that Swisha House Records CEO Michael "5000" Watts' weekly show on the Box has been shortened because Houston rapper Killa Kyleon gave a shout-out to Trae on Watts' show two weeks ago. (Sonzala also said the Box had likewise banned Kyleon, but has since retracted that.)

Furthermore, Sonzala writes, longtime local DJs the Kracker Nuttz were fired this past week for playing a Chamillionaire song that contained a guest verse by Trae. The trio of DJs, Klean Cutt, Ron E G and Baby Jae, held down the station's 7 p.m.-midnight shift. Responding to a text from Rocks Off's Shea Serrano, the Kracker Nuttz said nothing beyond that they were in the studio Friday afternoon. However, they are no longer listed on the DJ section of the Box's Web site, nor is any other Box on-air personality currently listed under those hours. Trae and the Box's problems began after this past summer's annual Trae Day concert at Texas Southern University, when several people were wounded by gunfire at the very end of the festivities.

During an on-air interview the next morning, Trae and Box personality Nnete got into a verbal altercation. "Basically," Sonzala writes, "she said that these are the kinds of people that he and his music attract." Trae then took the beef to the studio, disparaging Nnete in a pair of songs on his The Incredible Truth mixtape. As Serrano reported this past October, when The Incredible Truth first leaked, the remix of the song "Uptown" contains the following lyrics:

"Look at you with your bad built ass, you're trash/ I'm so far gone you ain't even in the past." Then, less cryptically, he concludes, "I guess it's understood while I'm rolling on glass/ And the world hating on me like Nnete fat ass."
Trae's publicist, Nancy Byron, would not comment any of the specific allegations in Sonzala's letter, but did say the situation is "having a very negative impact on the city as a whole." "It's gone way beyond Trae," she said. "It's a very dark and negative thing for the City of Houston and its music scene."
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