Dirty power house Houston, Texas has been atop the mix-tape circuit far longer than heads realize. Follow if you will. Important, but often overlooked segments of the mixtape underworld are DJ Screw, the Swisha House and the Freestyle Kings. Now, one Freestyle King that garnered national attention happens to be Lil Flip, who broke platinum independently last year. Part of his crew is a duo, Chamillionaire and Paul Wall. They made their debut on Swisha House mix tapes, then released Get Your Mind Correct through Houston’s indie label, Paid in Full Records. Plowing forward left lanes style, their first album moved almost 70,000 units. Allhiphop.com talks shop with the duo that’s now being courted by the majors.
AllHipHop.com: How did yall meet?
Paul: just grew up together. we lived on the same block since we were about 6 or 7 years old. My parents know his parents, his parents know my parents. So we’ve been knowing each other for a long, long time.
AHH: When did yall decide you were gonna start rhyming?
Paul: Shoot, it was about the same time. we were little youngsters, about 6 or 7 years old. We were trying to rap back then.
Chamillion: Yeah, all we did was rap and play basketball. We really started getting serious about it because everybody around us was rapping and they was just doubting us. So me, him and my brother started rapping all together. And now all of us rap. Me and Paul actually just made a group because we took it more seriously than everybody else.
AHH: Your group was the Color Changin’ Click?
Chamillion: That name into effect a little bit later. As you mature you get comfortable with your style and how you want to present yourself and the Color Changin’ Click just evolved. We went through a whole bunch of face changes and group name changes, just like every other rap group.
AHH: When did you first get in on the mix tape circuit out there in Houston?
Paul: It was at the end of 1999. Michael Watts was doing the mix CDs and Swisha House tapes and we was always cool with Watts, because he knew us through other things. We used to do street promotions for a lot of clubs and parties and events and record labels. I was only 18 back then but we had known Watts since we were 14. Me and Chamillion had a big, strong street reputation for doing street promotions even though we were only like 15, 16 years old. Michael Watts knew us from doing that and he knew we rapped too and we were just some cool dudes. So we naturally had to hook up with him. We were just waiting for the right time. And when the time came around, next thing you know, we’re on a mix CD.
AHH: The Dirty South sound is finally getting recognized nationally, when do you think the turning point was?
Chamillion: Like we’re not really respected. That’s why really I think people really feel me and Paul. I feel like we’re good representatives for that Southern style of music. Even though we’re doing it in a Southern flavor, people from other coasts can still feel it because it’s more of a nationwide feel.
Paul: A lot of East Coast artists started recognizing the potential of putting a down South artist on their album, how it just expanded their record sales. Like if the Wu Tang Clan put UGK on their CD, there’s going to be a whole bunch of UGK fans that might hate Wu Tang Clan but they’ll buy it just because of UGK.
AHH: What makes the chopped and screwed sound so tight for yall?
Paul: It’s crazy because at first, when we were younger we didn’t feel screwed music. And I just started catching on to it, listening to Slim Thug rap and listening to Watts do his CDs. And it’s like, growing up, DJ Screw, when he put out his tapes they’d be screaming South Side and we were from the North Side. It was kinda disrespectful. like if somebody on the North Side got caught with a DJ Screw tape they’d get talked about. There was still people that jammed it, but for the most part a lot of people on the South Side was the ones supporting DJ Screw first. So when Michael Watts started doing CDs it kinda gave a lot of the people on the North Side something to really embrace. And that’s when I started listening to it. And I was cool with Michael Watts, and I was trying to make a dollar too, so I got in the game distributing CDs even before I was rapping on them. At first I really didn’t like it, but I thought about how much money it could make me and eventually it grew on me and I started liking it. It grew on me pretty quick.
AHH: What cities have yall toured to?
Paul: Everywhere in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama. We’ve got a show coming up in Cleveland, Ohio. We have a strong following. A lot of the people from Houston, from Texas or just from the Dirty South that jams Screw. They move or whatever, there’s a lot of people that moved to New York but they still jam Screw.
Chamillion: And that just comes from those underground mix tapes. You put some mix tapes out in every city and you might sell a certain amount of units then that triples because most of the people out there bootlegging it, and you’re getting new fans daily. The mix tapes are promoting us. And that’s why we named our album “Get Your Mind Correct” because people know who we are now. And all the retailers is like “how are these dudes selling like this and we’ve never even heard of them?” We been in the game, you know.
AHH: Get Your Mind Correct, is an independent release right?
Paul: The label that we’re on now is Paid In Full Records. Some people think we’re still on Swisha House Records, but they’re just a label we started with on the mix tapes.
AHH: Who’s on the production on your albums?
Chamillion: We’ve got a guy named Blue Note and he does some stuff for Wreck Shop, freelance stuff. And he also does some stuff for Paid In Full. We’ve got a guy named Drathoven. We’ve got a guy named Tim. Who else we got Paul?
Paul: It’s like, with the beats, in the game, people come so fly and then they want to charge you this much or they wanna “okay, I’ll give you a beat if you get on my CD or this and that.” And a lot of their stuff just don’t be as quality. See, us, we’re real, real picky with what we’re feeling. And if we’re feeling something then we’re feeling it. For real. We aint trying to pay $8,000 a beat and have like one beat by some beat person. We aint trying to pay $20,000 for a beat from Manny Fresh and all the rest be from DJ Do-it-All or whatever. We aint really worried about that. We’re worried about the quality.
AHH: Well as long as you have a tight product, the name really doesn’t matter. So, what other artists out there would you like to work with?
Paul: We’re open to work with any artists. I’m a good example, like, there’s a lot of artists out there that I don’t feel. But when I meet them and I kinda get to know them, it kinda just opens my eyes up to their music more.
Chamillion: So really, as far as working with artists, we’re willing to work with anybody.
AHH: Your flows go really well together. Describe your style.
Chamillion: Southern, but the best word I’d say for me and Paul is nationwide.