Houston rapper Paul Wall took time to speak to AllHipHop.com today (August 21) about his motivations to participate in his third USO tour, as he prepared to embark on a nearly day-long journey.
Paul Wall, and Florida-based DJ Smallz, departed Washington, DC on a mission to show their support for US troops deployed in Southwest Asia.
The trip, which was announced earlier this week, has been a year in the making, revealed Paul Wall, who previously visited Kuwait and Iraq on separate USO tours.
This was actually something that Smallz has been wanting to do, Paul Wall told AllHipHop.com. Weve been going back and forth, trying to find the right time to go. But you know, well get last minute shows and things like that. We finally decided to just pick a date.
The decision to return to the Middle East region was also personal for Wall.
My grandfather was a Lieutenant Colonel in the military and I grew up in a very small family, shared the 28-year-old father of two. He was all I knew for a long time. And then I have a lot of friends who were in the military, I lost a couple friends in Iraq. And then I heard a statistic that 80% of the military in the Middle East is either from Texas or stationed in Texas.
So, going over there, it was just an amazing feeling, he continued, [To see] 5,000 troops with their assault riffles on their backs, they got their bulletproof vests on and everything, and their just going crazy, holding up Texas flags.
During his visit to Iraq, Wall was accompanied by two friends, a far cry from the group of 12 he travelled with to Kuwait, as part of a Hip-Hop comedy tour organized by actor/comedian Jamie Kennedy. The smaller entourage allowed for the opportunity to explore Iraq and to forge a much more personal bond with the troops.
During the visit, Wall befriended two soldiers deployed from Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas, about three hours from Houston; both about his age and had been married for approximately the same amount of time.
While he was in Iraq, Wall saw one of his new friends, who happens to have a son about the same age as Walls own son. His friend received news that, despite having served his full deployment, he would be remaining in Iraq for an additional six months due to a stop loss.
I was there a week and I was already going crazy missing my son, Paul Wall recalled. I could only imagine what he was going through. Feeling that and seeing it just made me wanna do my duty and go over there even more to perform.
Once he makes it back to the States, Paul Wall will be back to work, continuing his recent recording schedule, which finds him in the studio working on several collaborations and laying the foundation for his third major label release.
But his primary focus, he says, will be on the continued success of Expensive Taste, the clothing line he launched with close friends Travis Barker and Skinhead Rob. The clothing label was born almost out of frustration, after Paul Walls contractual obligations to Atlantic Records prevented the trio from pursuing a recording contract as a group also named Expensive Taste.
We actually started the line as t-shirt to sell as merchandise to our fans, explained Paul Wall. We took the logo Mr. Cartoon had created for our group, and put them on shirts to promote the music. And it got real popular. So we took it one step further and said, F**k it, since Atlantic wont let us do the group, well just make it a clothing line.
Immediately following Walls return to the States, Expensive Taste will launch its latest collection at the Magic Fashion Tradeshow in Las Vegas August 31 September 2.