Grind would have to be the best word to describe the Houston Hip-Hop scene. It’s prevalent in both the lyrics and general maneuverings of most artists from the area. Paul Wall is no exception as he’s back with his third album, eager to let the world know he’s still on the block posted like a mailbox. Full of tales on grinding, gripping grain and late night endeavors; he unveils very little more about who he is at a point in his career when most artists begin to define who they are. Sadly, instead of aiming for higher heights, he’s still caught up in living the Fast Life.
While both of his “Still Tippin’” cohorts forsook their region’s signature sound chasing wider acceptance, Wall for the most part stayed true to his roots. “Got To Get It,” has the screwed up chorus and pulsating bass line which immediately puts you in a Texas state of mind. It’s all but impossible to not nod your head, as he gives a bevy of punchlines on how he grinds. Ironically, it’s the guitar riff on “I Need Mo,” which adds a new wrinkle to a familiar topic. The rock tinged production adds a sense of urgency and desperation to his hustler’s ambition. It’s funny, because this is one of the few times you feel he actually needs to hustle and isn’t just spouting of repackaged quips of thug motivation.
“Daddy Wasn’t Home” gives even more insight to his grind. Backed by organs and a Master P sample, he gives us a glimpse of his childhood growing up in a single parent household. He lets the guard down for once and peels a layer of the onion back, showing where that desire to succeed stemmed from. Sadly, it’s only an aberration from his never-ending allegiance to the grind and staying fly. Coincidentally, it’s when he eases up on his grind does Paul falter. Songs like “Lemon Drop” and “Pop One Of These” find him in uncharted water, as he banally attempts to tackle the upbeat club song. Neither of the songs rise above amateur status and the likes of Baby Bash, Skinhead Rob, Too $Short & The Federation do little to help his cause. He scores slightly higher on “Bizzy Body” featuring Webbie and Mouse, unfortunately most people will think this a Webbie song. The same can be said for “Fly” where he trades lyrical barbwire with Yung Joc and Gorilla Zoe.
This stems from the fact that Paul is content to let his guests continually have the opening verse and in turn set the tone for the song. It’s a peculiar choice, because it’s not like a majority of them have the capability to upstage him. Too many superficial and rudimentary verses full of clichés give the listeners little time to connect with Paul. So when he does try to open up on the aforementioned “Daddy Wasn’t Home” or “Look At Me Now” it comes off as a trivial attempt to connect with the listener. Instead of portraying his past in broad sweeps, he should have broken it down into key situations which pushed him to the Fast Life. Maybe then we’d have a reason to actually root for the self-proclaimed “Peoples Champ.”
Previously Posted — TSS Presents Fifteen Minutes With Paul Wall