Hip-Hop has birthed an entire bling culture. Everything from hats and chains to belt buckles and watches have been adorned with diamonds and worn by industry heavyweights to hopefuls. At the forefront of this movement is a small group of jewelers, among which is Houston rapper Paul Wall and partner TV Johnny. AllHipHop.com decided to reach out to Paul Wall, busy on the road promoting his just released album Get Money Stay True, and see if he would be able to successfully appraise jewelry made by another jeweler. Los Angeles' Vibrant Jewelry stepped up to the task of providing a few of their pieces for the grill master to appraise.
Being a jeweler though, Paul was unable to come to grips with simply appraising the pieces and decided to flip the script on us and instead offered to share how he would give the frugal baller the chance to get a similar piece with slight modifications and at least a little discount. While not all of these varieties are in stock, Paul quotes any prospective buyers.
In today’s industry an iced out wrist seems to be the least you can do if you want to be taken seriously by others around you. Vibrant offers a 13-carat timepiece that is sure to make your gleam visible for miles. While this five-time-zone piece won’t be yours until you shell out a cool $13,000, Paul offers the aspiring artist a chance to buy a similar watch for $1,900. Buyer beware, this 86% discount comes with a drop to a single carat. A watch alone can’t take care of your wrists and so VJ offers a 12.5-carat bracelet for $55,000. This price tag could leave the rapping hopeful with no studio time for a while so Paul offers a 10-carat substitute with only a $20,000 price tag.
If your wrist is already gleaming, it’s time to move on to rings for your fingers. VJ has a cleverly designed ring, with three glistening rows of diamonds. But this 2-carat beauty won’t be on your hand without $13,000 leaving it first. The baller on a budget will be glad to find Paul’s “summer super special” which offers the same ring upgraded to a 4-carat for only $7,000.
While artists once attempted to one up each other with their verses, they now pull status with their chains. If you’re serious about being in the same league as your favorite rappers, Vibrant offers Scarface fans with a 13.5-carat “World Is Mine” chain which will set you back $74,000. If you want a similar chain, but need enough money left over for the Benz you’ve always wanted, Paul offers a 12-carat version for only $27,000.
Maybe you’re not on your Tony Montana steez, VJ offers a cross as well. Not your ordinary cross, this cross features a 20-carat helping of clear and blue diamonds. Trade an 11-carat for a 9-carat version, and Paul quotes the less fortunate only $22,000.
The rapper behind Expensive Taste creates thrifty alternatives for folks looking to get icy without being too pricey.
AllHipHop.com: You say you have lower prices for jewelry, so what are your guidelines to set prices for the jewelry you sell?
Paul Wall: It depends on the piece of jewelry and the customer. We don't want to give it away for free, but at the same time, we have the ability to make our prices lower then average because we manufacture and sell the products. We have eliminated the middleman.
AllHipHop.com: What is the most expensive piece of jewelry you’ve made and sold so far?
Paul Wall: I have to check with [TV] Johnny on that one. But our most expensive grill went to T.I., and it sold for $30,000. We’ve sold necklaces for over $100,000 before, plenty of watches are at least $50,000, but I'm not sure [of] the most expensive.
AllHipHop.com: Are you making yourself a new set of grills to help your promotion of the new album?
Paul Wall: Yeah, I broke them out at the Grammy [Awards] when I was representing in my Famous Stars and Straps cashmere suit. It’s the yellow gold with yellow diamonds crushed grill. I had to bring it back to when grills first started and were yellow gold. I am a big fan of the yellow gold.
AllHipHop.com: This is one of the first really major releases this year. How do you think that helps and hurts you?
Paul Wall: I don't get caught up in the hype. I'm just trying to make good music and sell records. So even if there were 10 other people dropping the same day as me, it wouldn't matter to me. I'm not in competition with anybody. I'm gonna do my best to make a great album, I'm gonna go out and promote my ass off until I'm so exhausted from working that I have to go to the emergency room for lack of sleep. I'm gonna do my best to perform my heart out every time I touch the mic. After all of that, I know God is gonna have His will be done. However many albums I am supposed to sell, I have already accepted it and I am grateful to be so extremely blessed. Even if the album doesn't sell and it flops, then it must be God’s will, so I am grateful for that too.
AllHipHop.com: If money wasn't an issue and you could make any chain you wanted what would you make? You have to be able to wear and move around though so it can't be bigger than you can carry.
Paul Wall: I got my Famous Stars and Straps chain, I got my Swisha House chain; I got all I need or want already.
AllHipHop.com: I know you've been on the road a lot recently. What other cities besides Houston do you consider a home away from home?
Paul Wall: Definitely Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, but outside of Texas, Skid Row [also known as] downtown L.A. I love coming to L.A. I also always have a lot of fun in D.C. [too].
AllHipHop.com: Do you prefer flying or taking a tour bus while you're on the road and why?
Paul Wall: Tour bus, baby. It’s easier to sleep and less exhausting; it’s easier to pack around bags too. I'm so used to driving everywhere all the time when I was first coming up, that this reminds me of those days. It’s relaxing for me. Flying wears me out.
AllHipHop.com: The track “I’m Throwed” with JD is crazy. How did you decide you wanted to work with JD on that track and what was it like in the studio when you recorded that together?
Paul Wall: We had a lot of fun recording and performing "Grillz" with Nelly, Ali and Gipp, so we already planned on eventually working together again. But he's the president of a major record label, [an] extremely talented producer in demand, as well as being an artist himself. He's definitely got a full schedule. He really showed me a lot of love by making room for me in his schedule. He stopped everything to help me out. I went to Atlanta with my boys T-Farris and G. Roberson, and it was destiny! When I heard the beat, I fell in love with it immediately. JD came up with the concept and the hook and killed it. It really didn't matter what my verses sounded like, the beat and chorus are so on point I could've said the [alphabet] and it would've still went hard. We shot the video with Syndrome, a team of guys in L.A.; they killed the video. It was icing on the cake for the song. The video was like a fresh set of Texas Wire Wheel ‘84s to match my 3rd Coast Custom Candy Paint. Much props to JD and Syndrome. They've been a blessing.
AllHipHop.com: What's going on with Expensive Taste? I heard that some issues with the record labels is keeping the album from coming out so the tracks are just being split between your album and Skinhead Rob's album.
Paul Wall: Well up until recently when we released a new free mixtape with DJ Skee, we hadn't really let many people hear our music. So now that we released the free mixtape we've been getting a lot of interest from a lot of labels. JD even talked with us a couple times about it. I put one of our songs "Slidin’ on that Oil" on my new album to give people a taste. Hopefully we'll get a deal for the group and be able to put something out. We'll see! Skinhead Rob is also in a group with our homie Damu from San Diego. The group is called Warfare. I'll be featured on their album a little as well.