Paul Wall: Avoided the White Thing
Talk about your major-label debut, The Peoples Champ. Its got Lil Wayne on there, B.G., Bun B, the Grit Boys, T.I. and my boy Freeway. I got production by Sali. He has a production company called Carnival Beats. He did Still Tippin. He did Back End for Mike Jones. He did my next single. I also got production by the Grid Iron. They did most of the production on my previous albums. Its going down Atlantic Records/Asylum/Swisha House. We all three teaming up, three different machines pushing it out there making it happen and trying to promote the album.
But this is really like your fifth album?
Yeah, the first album I dropped was called Get Your Mind Correct. The second one was called The Chick Magnet. Then I dropped one called How To Be A Player. Then most recently was one called Controversy Sells. But this one, The Peoples Champ is going to be my major label debut. The transition from being independent to being major has been a big step being that when were independent, were taking care of everything ourselves. And on major labels other people take care of those things for you. In a sense, it leaves me more room to be me, where independent Im doing most of the business myself.
Do you enjoy being an artist full-time?
Not really. I dont like being an artist. A lot of people dont respect you as an artist but a lot of that is because of the artists whove been assholes in the past. They dont do things on time, dont do what they need to do by deadlines, so there is a lesser level of respect if youre an artist. They put you on a celebrity pedestal, but at the same time, they dont respect your mind in terms of business. I look at it all like its a business. I dont look at it like Im a celebrity and an artist. I take care of my business and do my job. The fame is bullshit. It is a headache. Its cool that people come up and ask for your autograph, but if you in a rush at the airport to make your flight and you got 20 people following you trying to get your autograph and take a picture, they dont understand if you trying to make a flight to be on 106th & Park and you miss the flight you gonna miss 106th & Park. But they dont care about that. I dont like being an artist. I like the creative side of it and making good music, but all the other bullshit that comes along with it, thats just an anchor that holds you down.
It seems like nowadays artists have to be businessmen too?
Yeah and no. It depends on the person and the situation. Being that weve been hustling for so long and been hard, diligent workers for so long, it allowed people to want to work with us. Cause they see that theyre not working for us, theyre working with us. I hear stories of other artists who didnt want to work, who just want to go home and get high all the time. This is what were working for. Im ready to do whatever I got to do to get this money and be successful with it.
Howd you hook up the collaborations on your album?
Bun B, Ive done a lot of projects with Bun B. I hope to put him on every project I ever do. Hes a hero to me, him and Pimp C. They icons and legends in Texas and in the South. They innovators and pioneers for Southern music, for gangsta music and for Texas music. Not to mention, they were some of the first Texas artists to put out albums and they still getting better with time and being consistent with their music and they still relevant to hip-hop today. Ive always been a fan of Lil Wayne and B.G. Lil Wayne was going to the University of Houston and I knew one of his boys and I hooked up his grill for him. I have a studio and I offered him access and he told me one of the problems he was having is that the engineers aunts and sisters and everybody wants to take pictures so theres no freedom for him to do his work. Our studio is more exclusive. When you working, you working. We give the artists the respect and privacy that they want. He used the studio and from there he got on my album. And the same with B.G. I have been a fan of the Hot Boys for so long. So to get B.G. and Lil Wayne on there was great. Freeway is one of my favorite rappers. Freeway and Camron. I got Camron on some future projects. I like the way they rap because they rap about hustling, but not from a rappers aspect, they rap about it from a hustlers viewpoint. They styles is so different from the type of style I do. Its different shit that you wouldnt expect. the Grit Boys, we got a crew in Texas called the 713. Its like a movement. With myself, the Grit Boys (Ghetto Reality In Texas), also the production team the Grid Iron, and my boy Young Red and Tre. We coming together and making music together and forming a united movement for Houston. Toward the end of the recording of the album, thats when we saw the success of Still Tippin, so opportunities for me to work with more major producers. Its good to have major features and production on the album because it draws the spotlight to you but with me, I didnt want the spotlight to be on who I had on the album and what production I had. I wanted it to be more of what can I bring to the table. I got a beat from KLC from the Medicine Men, Juicy J and DJ Paul from Three 6 Mafia and Sanchez (T.I.).
The independent hip-hop scene is big in Houston.
Its always been huge in Houston. The radio stations play a lot of local music. At the same time, there are a lot of rappers and every rapper doesnt have a song on the radio. I think since were so far from New York, the media didnt know about us for a long time. And since were so far from Hollywood, that side didnt know about us. The rest of the country had their respective movements, Miami, Atlanta, St. Louis. Everyone has their respective style and brand. Houston is at the bottom of the map in the middle. We got the short end of the stick for a long time in terms of props and credit go. The mixtapes we do, the DJ Screw tapes he created a whole new art form, a whole new branch of the hip-hop tree. It created a whole genre of music that we live that reflects our culture that the rest of the world is completely oblivious to. But its so huge in Houston. Screw music is Texas. It is the Houston culture. The number of mixtapes that we sell and the number of people that listen to our mixtapes by far outnumbers the DJs in New York, L.A., Florida and Atlanta. Were doing the same thing in Houston but we not getting the notoriety for it. Its no hard feelings. Its just the way it is. When I saw that, I said we aint too far off. Its real hard to step above the rest in New York. When I compare the New York to Houston in terms of productivity and sales, we aint too far off. We really are doing our thing. Its all timing. The Geto Boys, Rap-A-Lot and J. Prince set the foundation 20 years ago. If UGK was from any East Coast city or West Coast city, theyd have won Grammys. Being they from the bottom, people dont have the slightest clue.
Talk about your grill shop.
I started doing gold teeth in 98. A guy named Crime, he moved to Houston from NY. He has a couple of gold teeth shops. I wanted a grill but it was too expensive. I told him I would get him a whole bunch of business and all I ask for in return is to get the wholesale on the teeth. He did it, and all the business I brought him was overwhelming so he asked me to open up a shop for him, and I did. But then my record started picking up so I closed the shop. He plugged me directly into the people who was doing the actual diamond work, Johnny. Now we got a shop called TV Jewelry (832-661-5664) in Sharkstown Mall.
Has being White been an issue for you?
I was rapping before Eminem came to the spotlight. At that time the only rappers were Vanilla Ice and MC Serch. At the beginning, there was a lot of, you White. Me being White overshadowed my lyrics and style and the way I rapped. So I took a step back and avoided the whole White thing. It was more important for me to be White than for me to be a good rapper. As time went on, the spotlight drew to me because I was White. From there its up to me. I have to step up to the plate and either Im going to hit a home run or strike out. When I got down with Michael Watts and Swisha House and they hear me on the tapes, they dont know Im White, especially on the slowed down tapes. As time went on, I got on my first Swisha House tape in 99, some people just figuring out now Im White. I dont put it out there that Im a White rapper. Im a rapper who is White. Eminem came to the spotlight and broke down a lot of barriers for other rappers that are White. He earned respect. He kept it real. He made people say thats cool, you being you. He didnt give a fuck. And his success. The labels started looking for other White rappers. They got Bubba Sparxxx. Then Haystack. Then Lil Wyte. People started comparing me to all those. My style is nowhere near their styles. My style aint like any other rapper, no matter what they are. My style is Paul Wall. I represent the Texas culture and the culture that I grew up in.
Do you still have beef with Chamillionaire?
Nah, hes just someone in the past. Thats like asking me about my kindergarten teacher. He tried to make a big deal of it. Im on 106th & Park and hes not, sheee. Hes just somebody in the past, thats all.
For more on the People's Champ check out www.djpaulwall.com