The People's Champ

Artist: Paul WallTitle: The People's ChampRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Jessica Dufresne

What it do? The champ is officially here with his long-awaited debut, and he shows why you need to believe the hype. Paul Wall has been on the grind for years and while heads below the Mason-Dixon always knew about this Swisha House representative’s skills, it wasn’t until a few months ago that the North finally took notice. The People’s Champ (Swishahouse/Asylum) is all that was expected of him, albeit with minor flaws.

The 17-track album gets right into it with grimy, perfect-for-tearing- the-club up tracks like “I’m A Playa,” featuring Three Six Mafia and “They Don’t Know,” with Mike Jones, an ode to Texas. Producer Grid.Iron, who did six tracks, slows down the frantic pace a little for the laid-back but still hard “Ridin’ Dirty,” that has Wall laying down the Houston hustling game while newjack R&B singer Trey Songz takes care of the hook. The predictable production takes a turn on the East-coast inspired head-nodder, “State to State,” which finds “the chick magnet” holding his own lyrically with Freeway, but unfortunately, that’s only one of a few breaks in the beat monotony. The majority of the songs seem to be infused with what appears to be the southern producer’s favorite beat building block—the organ. While you could get tired of that, the lyrics certainly make up for it. Wall gets busy on the slow-creep worthy “So Many Diamonds” with T.I. and with Bun B and B.G. on “Trill.” However, no song except for maybe “Sippin’ the Barre,” truly demonstrates Paul Wall’s talents as a lyricist and his tight flow. Rhyming alone to a track befitting cruising down the strip in his candy-painted whip, Wall breaks down his long road to success and determination to keep doing it: “I’m comin’ live from the block/I got my mind on my hustle/I’m trying to make it to the top/So I put in work and stackin’ knot/Determination is all I got/On the grind/I scheme and plot/Whatever it takes to raise my stock.” Other standout tracks include the lead single, “Sittin’ Sidewayz,” the narcotic-loving “Sip-N-Get High,” with Swisha fam Aqualeo and the clap-a-long “Got Plex,” a bass-heavy warning to anyone wanting to start static with Wall and labelmates Archie Lee and Cootabang. The album comes to an introspective close with “Just Paul Wall,” where he breaks down his humble beginnings describing how his drug addicted father left the family and the hard times that followed.

The People’s Champ as Paul Wall’s first major-label release is a superior introduction perfect for winning over new fans and is proof to the old ones that he’s still that purple drinking, platinum grilled hustler stackin’ ends.