Paul Wall will forever go down in history as one of the legends in the rap game, putting Houston and its culture on the map any chance he can. Of course, you probably recognize the name from his viral hit with Nelly on “Grillz,” one of rap’s most nostalgic bangers to date. All those rappers you see today rocking diamond grillz? Paul and celebrity jeweler Johnny Dang did it first.
Beyond his own bangers, Paul has collaborated with all the elites. From his features on Mike Jones’ “Still Tippin’” to Kanye West’s “Drive Slow,” the rapper and entrepreneur continues to bring passion, bars, hard ass beats, and of course, the finest grillz in the game.
Now, he returns with his 12th studio album called SUBCULTURE, in conjunction with Red Bull Music. This year also serves as the 15-year anniversary for his classic studio debut, The People’s Champ, which included hit singles “Sittin’ Sidewayz” and “Girl.” Wall created the project at Red Bull Studios in Santa Monica, working and staying creative all day and all night long.
AllHipHop: How long have you had the beard going?
Paul Wall: I’ve been growing this since Thanksgiving of last year. We got into a car accident real bad, I was out of commission for a few weeks. I couldn’t go nowhere. My wife’s been trying to get me to grow a full beard. I said why not? Grew it out a little bit and stuck with it. COVID hit so I got plenty of time for it to grew. It got crazy for a while, it was out there.
AllHipHop: Do you like it?
Paul Wall: Yeah, because I don’t really have to do nothing. Don’t have to shave. My hair grows fast too, so I had to shave in the morning and at night.
AllHipHop: How’s it feel to have so many artists make it big out of H-Town?
Paul Wall: It feels great man! I’m the unofficial president of the Houston fanclub, always been a champion for all Houston artists. Growing up, there weren’t a lot of mainstream artists in Houston besides Geto Boys. Now, it’s an explosion of so many of them. Megan Thee Stallion, Lizzo, Maxo Kream, Travis Scott, Sauce Walka, Beatking. So many people been around for a while so we got to see their introduction, first time on the scene.
Beatking’s been around for 10 years, he’s been coming out with music. All ratchet music, a lot of it is too nasty and too dirty to go mainstream. It’s surreal when I see or hear people say “hey, you heard this new artist Beatking?” New artist? That’s how it was when we came up, people from my generation all came from the underground. He came from a different underground, the stripclub. We came up in that too, but from the mixtapes. You make your mark and hustle on the underground, there’s different types of aspects, skills, progression. You get opportunities and you take it. He could do a show right now for an hour and every song would be a hit. A lot of his songs, people would say “I didn’t know that was him. That was him too?!”
AllHipHop: You guys have worked together too.
Paul Wall: We got multiple songs together on his project, my project, for the last 10 years. We have that type of community where we support one another. It’s somewhat competitive but at the end of the day, we all support each other.
AllHipHop: You always do back to school drives in Houston. How did you guys shift with COVID-19 restrictions?
Paul Wall: This year’s been different, we didn’t get to do that. We had a tablet drive where we had people mail in, drop off tablets. It was dope. I got multiple kids in my household so we got multiple tablets. Some people don’t have no tablets. The school district does provide a tablet and a hot spot, but there are limitations. The first week of school, the whole hub was crashing. My nieces are living with me. If you got two or three kids in the house, you gon’ pick and choose who goes to class that day? What if it’s a broken tablet? Or you have to get internet? We’re doing what we can because it’s all been affecting everybody in different ways.
AllHipHop: Your new album SUBCULTURE is out now, what inspires you to make music today?
Paul Wall: Just the love and the passion for it. When I fell in love with hip-hop, that style of music still gets me hype today. The Screwed Up style, they’re dropping bars on fire beats. Anytime I hear anybody with fire beats spitting bars, I’m hype. Sean Price is spitting, it’s gon’ have me hype. The Jacka, Husulah, it’s gon’ get me hype. These are more underground artists, it’s about dropping bars and beats. It’s not about catchy hooks, who got the best hairdo or the flyest clothes. You talk about it in your lyrics, doesn’t matter. What you look like, what you wearing, how many followers or likes you got, those things don’t matter at all unless you can translate that into a bar. You translate that into a bar, then it matters what you look like.
AllHipHop: You’re spitting that real on your new single, “Ice Man.”
Paul Wall: If I say I got all this ice on me in bars and I walk around with no ice, then it matters. If I’m not dropping the info in my bars, then these descriptive things are meaningless from my era, my subgenre of hip-hop which is the underground. We want the beats. We want the bars. A lot of people out there have fire beats, who are dropping bars. In and out of the mainstream, not just underground. Whoever’s doing it, wherever you at, usually the underground is really what gets me the hypest. When I see someone kicking a freestyle or doing whatever challenge over somebody else’s beat, they drop bars their own way, that gets me hype. I know a lot times it’s marketing to get their songs on but hey, whoever got the best verse I’ma give you a chain. I’ma put you on song. Sometimes it just be to get people to start some people doing it. I’m one of those people that be looking through the hashtags looking at people’s videos like they saying something right there. It’s what get my hype right there.
AllHipHop: What are your favorite grillz?
Paul Wall: Me personally, whatever’s new, I want to get. I got some pretty good teeth underneath. When there’s a new style, I’m definitely upgrading. I’ma update whatever the newest style is, change it up. I change my grill up all the time. Your watch or chain you got on right now, if you put that chain in a frappuccino, then dip it in soup, then dip it in lasagna, that’s really what you’re doing with your grill. Anytime you eat, smoke, do anything, it’s all affecting how your diamonds look, how the gold looks, the tarnish of it.
A lot of people do clean, but it’s something you have to do every single day. If you don’t, it starts looking like you haven’t cleaned the grill in days. A lot of people get the grillz, then don’t brush their teeth anymore. You still have to have proper hygiene no matter what you got going on. Me being somebody who likes to eat a lot of them foods, I’ma clean mine. I clean my teeth, to each his own. You might see me walking down with the permanents. If the Astros would’ve won last year, I was gon’ get them permanent. But they didn’t.
AllHipHop: That was the bet you made?
Paul Wall: Yeah, the grill gods didn’t have it in my timing then. They said “no, not yet.” [laughs]