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When Slim Thug picked up the phone, I could hear the muffled voices of friends or a team in the background. He’d obviously just gotten into a car or truck. Probably an Escalade. You know the one I’m thinking of: candy paint spinning in the light, 22-inch-rims revolving on its axis like the Earth around the sun. Then I checked myself. This is isn’t the Slim Thug of my youth.

He’s moved past being an entertainer. He’s a businessman, philanthropist, and writer first. We all remember how mean his pen game was when he recounted how mixing business with pleasure cost him some real estate in The New York Times. But in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Thug has been a consistent champion for Houston. Even going so far as to raise money for the tragedy by having some friends roast him last year for charity. Now he’s doing even more. His Hurricane Harvey REPRESENT initiative done with his construction company Boss Life Construction is donating a home to one person who lost it all in the storm.

Malevolent and disastrous, it’s been one year since Hurricane Harvey became the deadliest tropical cyclone on record, decimating most of of the city. It inflicted $125 billion in damage, the costliest storm to a major city in U.S. history. Harvey released a cauldron of demons as well. Flood waters shot down Main street into downtown Houston with force, taking with it cars, homes, and futures. Images fettered across our screens of people, bearded and wet. Slim Thug knows about it first hand. 

As humans, as people, Houston rallied.

“The city was devastated by the Hurricane [but] not all of it,” he shares with CASSIUS. “Some of the city just got a lot of rain. So we had to get down and help out however we could to help people who lost everything—their houses, everything— back on their feet.”

Watching the waters fill Houston, there was an acute sense of dread as though the specters of Hurricane Katrina lived in every drop; every wish washed away in a torrent of wrath from the heavens. But as humans, as people, Houston rallied. Thug has been busy in his community for years. Turkeys on Thanksgiving; toys-for-tots on Christmas; rebuilding whole neighborhoods in North Houston. But the storm became a beacon for him, a call, and he’s tried to answer it.

Now, he’s giving a home away to a person who lost it all during the hurricane and he’s using his company, Boss Life Construction, to do it. That’s how the Hurricane Harvey REPRESENT initiative was born. “With Boss [Life] Construction we’re donating a home to one person who lost everything in the storm,” he says. “This month is the anniversary of the storm so we wanted to do something special.”

We also asked Thug about the sluggish FEMA response to the disaster. He made sure to let us know the government isn’t involved. “Nah, we’re not working with the government on this one. It’s just us out here, trying to take care of our community and Houston.”

For Houston artists, the music community is mostly homegrown and close knit. Early on, before the big box stores rolled in, Thug and co would get distribution handled by Southwest Wholesale. That outfit was a “blessing,” said Thug in a piece at Forbes. “They were kind of like a distributor, and could get your records all over the country. That helped us out a lot.”

Now, it can feel like the focus has shifted almost completely to Atlanta, which Thug says has become the “epicenter of current hip-hop.” “It’s like the new MoTown,” he says. “All the producers are there, the artists all work together and share and the music is more upbeat. It’s tough for the old H-Town sound, that slower sound, to blend into radio right now.”

What we’re doing in and around our town is something we’ve been working towards for years.

But don’t count the Boss Hogg out. He released 2017s The World Is Yours independently and he’s featured on Bun B’s upcoming Return Of The Trill, which he says was a “dream come true.” “I grew up listening to Bun and being a fan so to be able to hop on a record with someone I looked up to in that way is beautiful,” he adds.

He isn’t just listening to greatest hits, either. He recognizes how much Travis Scott is representing H-Town right now, as well. “What Travis Scott is doing with a number one album and making huge records goes to show you can’t count Houston out,” he states. Scott’s Astroworld is doing miraculous merch sales and streaming numbers right now. Yet there’s only one Boss Hogg and his mission remains the same.

“What we’re doing in and around our town is something we’ve been working towards for years,” he says. “Usually it’s the negative stuff that goes viral so we can’t help it if what we’re doing isn’t known. But it’s not about social media, it’s about helping who you can.” With that in mind, the winner will be drawn on September 26.

Contribute your donation to Thugga’s REPRESENT initiative here.