yes. Cars and bling. Cars and bling. There’s more to the world than
cars and bling – just not for Houston rap’s token white boy, Paul Wall.
is indeed white, despite what you might assume if, say, you’ve only
heard his rich southern drawl over the year’s most wicked bass line on
the heavy-rotation single “Sittin’ Sidewayz.” He knows he’s white, too,
so don’t even think about passing Wall’s steez off as a novelty: The
goateed rapper already one-upped Howard Stern by maintaining his
composure despite Stern’s incessantly racist “You’re not really white,
are you?” and “Why do you talk that way?”
But back to the cars and the ever-so-important bling and Wall’s major-label debut, The People’s Champ,
on which Wall shows little concern for anything that doesn’t sparkle in
the lights or roll low to the ground and guzzle gas. And why should he?
He owns a successful Houston jewelry store that specializes in platinum
fronts, and he has little reason to drop verses other than to promote
his business, presumably so he can earn enough money to buy more cars.
(See how that works?)
Although nothing else on The People’s Champ comes
close to “Sittin’ Sidewayz,” the album holds itself together with only
the dirtiest of cruising-speed beats and Wall’s surprisingly
consistent, slightly bounced verbal assault. Rarely touching on
anything more than – you guessed it – cars and bling (he throws in a
few rhymes about girls and dollars for good measure), Wall’s verses
strike with a flow that conveys his unflinching confidence, something
that most rappers’ typical, tired bravado alone can’t accomplish.
the gangsta funk of “Smooth Operator,” which adds one of the album’s
catchiest choruses, and the Grid.Iron-produced “They Don’t Know,”
featuring a memorable everyman verse by Mike Jones, The People’s Champ
is united under a hefty dose of Houston’s trademark sound, only
faltering when tracks fall out of place – the slow jam “Girl,” the
too-close-to-old-school-No-Limit “Sippin’ Tha Barre,” and the Late Registration-featured “Drive Slow.”
guest spots from BG and Lil’ Wayne – on “Trill” and “March N’ Step,”
respectively – are strong enough to make me wish I were back in Cash
Money’s heyday, driving around in my friend’s dad’s cherry-red
Navigator, picking up girls from neighboring high schools who were
probably younger than they claimed. Ah, to be a suburban white kid with
a disposable income.
But I digress. The People’s Champ
isn’t a classic rap record by any means. It’s simply a solid release
from an ambitious twenty-five-year-old in love with life’s simple
material pleasures. And if cars and bling are all that Wall’s giving
us, we should feel fortunate that he’s presenting this limited scope
with such finesse.