Making the transition from the go to guy for grillz to rapper, Paul Wall has carefully studied the blueprints set by many of the Dirty South’s rap pioneers. To this day, Paul remains a hardcore fan of many of the artists that he’s collaborated with and keeps seminal albums by the likes of UGK, Outkast and the Screwed Up Click in constant rotation. VIBE.com hit up the proud Texas native to find out which albums had the most impact on his life and career.
1. Outkast ATLiens — “I’ll never forget this album. Around the time it came out I went to one of my first concerts and it was Outkast, Erykha Badu and The Roots. I actually met Questlove just walking around. They weren’t really as popular in the South but I was so star stuck, man. This was right around the time that “Call Tyrone” came out, and I think it might have been the show she recorded it at in Houston. Later that night, I also saw Big Boi walking around right in front near my seat. I swear man, I jumped down this like 8 foot rafter and started running after him, and you know security shut me down right away. But really I just wanted an autograph. He saw me though and I still have the autograph to this day. He saw the whole thing and thought I was crazy. (laughs)”
2. UGK Ridin’ Dirty — “That came out a time when Texas wasn’t getting a lot of respect. The whole South actually wasn’t really getting a lot of props, and Houston in general. People still thought folks in Texas rode horses and had cows in their backyards. And when Riding Dirty by UGK came out, it stopped everything. That was easily the greatest Hip-Hop music I ever heard. Just them being from Texas and talking the same slang that I talk and being able to relate to everything they were saying was the ultimate feeling for me. I couldn’t believe they were on a major label like Jive. It just made me proud to be from Texas.”
3. Big Mike Still Serious — “I had friend named Trey that I knew because he was a cousin of one of my old homeboys, and he was all over this album. I just really felt personally connected to the album because of that fact. It made me think about taking rap seriously. Actually, I’m not even sure if he’s still rapping anymore but Big Mike’s Still Serious on Rap-A-Lot records was the shit to me. It was an underground classic in Houston. I remember the single “Burbans and Cadillacs” was a record that I jammed every single day for months as a teenager.”
4. D.E.A. Screwed 4 Life — “There was a group called D.E.A. which stood for Dead End Alliance that was made up of DJ Screw, Fat Pat, Lil Keke, Big Hawk and Kay-K. They were named after a neighborhood in South Park Houston,Texas. The whole Screwed Up Click were some of my favorite rappers at the time and this was like 96 —I was like 16 at the time and I listened to them religiously. I remember listening to the radio back then and it was mostly West Coast music and seeing a lot of East Coast videos on TV, which I loved. But as a Texan you are born with a lot of Texas pride and they just gave me a sense of where I was I from. This was that original down South screwed up music that just embodied everything we’re about.
5. Hot Boys Get It How You — “When this album came out there was absolutely nobody else in the world that sounded like them. This was the time when I really fell in love with Hip-Hop. All these influential albums were coming out one after another. Mannie Fresh’s production was the greatest sound in the world, it was so fresh. That bass heavy Louisiana bounce style and there was a dude from Houston named Funky Fingers that played guitar on a lot of the tracks, so I felt some hometown flavor on there. Hot Boyz always shouted out a lot of things relevant to Texas so I connected with it. They were our neighbors and growing up we went to Louisiana every year for Mardi Gras, Bayou Classic and the Essence festival, so we grew up taking trips to Lafayette and New Orleans. Those were three annual trips. Texas and Louisiana always showed a lot of respect toward each other.”