Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT TV’s “Drink Champs,” which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. In honor of such a one-of-a-kind show, REVOLT will be recapping each weekly “Drink Champs” episode, so you can always catch the gems that are dropped in each lit interview.
In the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” Houston rapper Paul Wall makes his debut to chop it up with N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN about his career. First making waves as one-half of The Color Changin’ Click alongside Chamillionaire, the duo were at the forefront of Houston’s burgeoning indie rap scene, which bubbled over in the mid aughts with Wall, Chamillionaire and several local artists securing major label record deals. After falling out with Chamillionaire, Wall embarked on a solo career and released his chart-topping debut album, The Peoples Champ, in 2005. Boasting multiple hit singles, the album minted Wall as one of the more popular and beloved rappers out of the south. Currently independent, the star continues to release music while working on his side hustle as a jeweler, and shows no signs of taking his foot off the gas anytime soon.
To help give fans a recap of the conversation, REVOLT compiled a list of nine things we learned from the Paul Wall episode of “Drink Champs.” Take a look at them below.
1. On Houston’s Rap Scene Being Overlooked In The Past
Houston may boast one of the most vibrant rap scenes in 2019, but thirty years ago, aside from the Geto Boys, the city was a blip on the radar for the average rap fan. Wall recalls this period of his city and Rap-A-Lot Records being overlooked on “Drink Champs.” “When you’re living in Houston and you turn on the TV, you see kind of how people treat Rap-A-Lot sometimes,” he explains. “We always kind of felt like we got the short end of the stick, we being Houston. Maybe being that we’re so centrally located at the south — at the bottom of the Midwest. We’re in the south, but we’re far west on the south. So, we’re kind of removed from kind of what’s going on sometimes in Florida or Georgia.”
2. How He Got Signed To Swishahouse
The height of the rapper’s career occurred during his time with Swisahouse, a powerhouse label out of Houston that once boasted a roster that included Mike Jones, Slim Thug and Chamillionaire. “I actually got on with Swishahouse with Michael Watts...” Wall recalls. “I’m putting up posters for a Def Jam artist [or] somebody, I see him at one of the record stores and I ask him, I say, ‘Aye Watts, man, how come y’all don’t ever rap on no Cash Money, Mannie Fresh beats?’ cause I used to love Cash Money and Mannie Fresh beats... And he was just like, ‘The artists choose the beats and they just didn’t choose the beats,’ I’m like, ‘Man, tell ‘em they tripping. They need to rap on this beat, that beat,’ and he just called me out and was like, ‘Well, what would you do?’ and I just free-styled something and he was like, ‘Come on, let’s go,’ and then he took me to the studio.”
3. On The Negative Effects Of Lean
Houston’s rap scene’s relationship with lean runs deep — dating back to the era of DJ Screw — who along with his Screwed Up Click, helped popularize the drink with his signature brand of music. However, Screw’s death in 2001 — along with other tragedies connected to lean — have resulted in dialogue surrounding its negative impacts. Wall, who is an admitted lean drinker himself, shares his thoughts on the topic. “It’s a debatable subject,” he says in reference to lean’s role in DJ Screw’s death. “I mean, he did have codeine in his blood, but I don’t think that’s what killed him, he had other stuff. The lifestyle be what kill you, I think, more than lean. It’s a very touchy subject... I try to be respectful of not only him or anyone else, but at the same time, it’s a lot of misinformation that people talk about there. Fake facts about lean. Me, personally, I’ve never seen anyone in the history of drank ever die from codeine. Now, is it possible that I can die from that? Man, I might be dranked out and then get into a car accident, but is lean what killed me? Or if I sip drank and I’m eating fried foods everyday. I’m not drinking no water, only water I’m drinking is the ice in my cup. I’m not exercising at all, I’m staying up, I’m not getting proper sleep. Everything else I’m eating and putting in my body, not only fried foods, but it’s some type of trash.”
4. How The Wu-Tang Clan Influenced Him To Get Into The Grill Business
In addition to his success in the rap game, Wall is also credited with helping popularize grills in hip hop, even going as far as supplying a number of his fellow rappers with bling of their own. He gives insight into his reasoning for getting into the business of grills and how the Wu-Tang Clan was a major influence in that decision. “Every business I got into, it was a ‘I want that, how can I get it cheaper?” he explains. “I can get it cheaper if I sell it than if I’m just a customer. So, how can I sell it? Let me learn the game...’ So with that, it was always, ‘I wanted one, I always wanted a grill.’ But in the south, it was always permanent grills, you would go to a dentist to do the grills. And then, you couldn’t get no removable grills or nothing like that. That’s what we would always see, anywhere, period. And then, all of a sudden, we see Wu-Tang [Clan] on the videos taking their grills out and we’re like, ‘Man, what’s going on? how they do that? I want one of them grills.’ We ain’t have nothing like that.”
5. On Visiting Africa
In 2007, the artist appeared in the VH1 documentary Bling’d: Blood, Diamonds and Hip Hop, which showed his trip to Africa to bring awareness to the diamond trade in Sierra Leone and hip hop’s role in negatively impact the area’s communities. Wall discusses the experience and the personal impact it had on him. “The whole experience out there, bro, it was everything. We got the UN escorting us. We met some of them, (the mutilated kids) there was like a village, too,” he says. “Growing up here, man, first you’re taught that everything is perfect, and then you realize it’s all lies and bullshit; and then later on, you realize the whole world is like that and that’s kind of how it was for me. I grew up thinking, “America is great,’ and then you’re like, ‘Damn, this shit is fucked up how it happened or how it still is.’ And then you got out to other places in the world and you’re like, ‘Damn, the world is really fucked up how we treat each other.’”
6. On Travis Scott Putting On For Houston
The list of rap talent to have come out of Houston over the years is extensive. But, one of the biggest exports to come out of the city as of late is Travis Scott, whom Wall shares his thoughts on during his sit-down with N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN.
”I think about that, too, because throughout the years, there’s been other artists from Houston that didn’t come with the traditional H-Town sound. But, he for sure took it to another level,” he says. “But, I think with his still style, he’s kind of affected the masses. I have a bias being from Houston. So, I’ma look at him like he’s just the god ‘cause he’s successful, so I’m rooting for him... We seen him on ‘Saturday Night Live’ with DJ Screw in the background tough. Those type of things and that kind of just goes to show that even from Houston or wherever... we do have our best selling flavors, but we got a wide variety of flavors.”
7. On Being Influenced By Lil Keke
When asked about the artists who influenced him to become a rapper, Wall credits Houston rap legend Lil Keke with being one of the major catalysts in his decision. “For sure, Lil Keke was my biggest inspiration,” Wall shares. “Lil Keke, he’s basically the originator of a lot of the Houston culture, especially when it comes to rapping about the culture... Having him, I’m sure he’d be an incredible guest ‘cause he can give all kind of background history. It was him, Fat Pat and DJ Screw where it started off. It was definitely people involved like OG Ron C... It was people involved in the streets like Corey Blount, who was a key figure — he was one of the people in the streets making the money. So, he had his cars right. So, it was like an inspiration for everyone [and] the way we do our cars now. He inspired me, for sure, the most. He was my favorite rapper — still is. He was the greatest rapper to me — still is. His wordplay, the things he would say... putting on for the Houston culture... where I looked to him as being somebody up high who’s professional, who made it, who’s elite.”
8. On The “White Rapper” Labeling
In a predominantly black culture, a rapper being white has always been a topic of conversation, which Wall has experienced firsthand. However, he credits Swishahouse’s brand of music and the lack of social media during his rise with being able to largely avoid the stigma of being labeled a “white rapper.” “I don’t know how I should feel being that I never cared. I never wanted to be a white rapper,” he says. “I never wanted that and then growing up in Texas, a lot of times people thought — especially with a low haircut [or] fade — they’d be like, ‘Oh he’s Hispanic or he’s mixed or he’s a Frenchman from Louisiana. It was one of the the three. I think some of that, too, being on the Swishahouse mixtapes, my voice is slow. It’s pre-internet, so you can’t Google what somebody look like, so you didn’t know what I look like. You hear my music, it’s already slowed down. So, it’s already got effects on it... and then, I think sometimes people make excuses up like that just to give me a pass, like, ‘He ain’t white, he gotta be Mexican.’”
9. On Acting In I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
Like many rap stars, Wall managed to parlay his popularity into acting with one of his more memorable roles being Grillionaire in the 2009 comedy I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. He gives the backstory behind his involvement in the film and the book it’s based on. “I’m not that good [of] an actor. But, I think that might be where it start,” he jokes. “They put me in the movies that’s not the mainstream successes, but they did make some money off of that. It’s based off a book. It’s a real person named Tucker Max... it was on The New York Times best-seller for like ten years... He might’ve broke a record or something... He wrote adventures of getting fucked up and fucking girls, and just reckless shit. ’Hey, I fucked three girls in one night and I ain’t wear a condom. I got so drunk and I threw up all over the floor here and there. One time I had to shit and this girl gave me head while I was shitting.’ It’s like disgusting type of [stuff], but it’s all true stories of him.”