released July 13th, 2010

from the album - I'm On Patron

from all music

MC and DJ Paul Wall (born Paul Slayton) grew up as a hardcore disciple of fellow Houstonian DJ Screw and became so familiar with the pioneering DJ's woozy, slowed-down style of remixing that he had to adjust to hearing hip-hop at any other tempo. Prior to making a nationwide breakout in 2005 with a guest spot on Mike Jones' "Still Tippin'" and his Swishahouse/Atlantic Records debut, The Peoples Champ, Wall was involved with promotional street teams, DJed parties, put together underground mixtapes, and was half of the Color Changin' Click with Chamillionaire. He recorded 2002's Get Ya Mind Correct with his partner, and then followed that with 2004's solo Chick Magnet. Controversy Sells, another disc billed to Wall and Chamillionaire, hit the streets in early 2005, just months before Wall kicked off support for the chart-topping Peoples Champ LP with "Sittin' Sideways." Two years later, Get Money, Stay True was introduced by the single "Break Em' Off" with Lil' Keke. Changing labels with the rest of the Swishahouse family, his first album for Asylum, Fast Life, followed in 2009. A year later The Heart of a Champion arrived with blink-182 drummer Travis Barker handling production on half the tracks. Affiliated throughout the years with Paid in Full and Swishahouse, Wall has also held down a lucrative business as a maker of diamond-laced grillz. His clientele includes Lil Jon and T.I.

album review

After the Southern party magic of The Peoples Champ had worn off, it had been a slow five-year slide for crunk thug Paul Wall, and when you’re that far down the hip-hop hole, hiring Travis Barker, drummer of blink-182, to produce half your album just doesn’t seem sensible. Going the return-to-form route often works but Wall uses the throwback method sparingly on The Heart of a Champion, an album piled high with risky decisions that add up to an unexpected success. Riskiest of them all has to be inviting respected wordsmiths Raekwon and Jay Electronica on board, and on the same cut, but the usually serviceable Wall has proven he can turn it on when it counts, and does so with “I’m gettin’ paper while you in the shade drinkin’ Zima/I’m a schemer, you just waitin’ for your check from FEMA” during the massive “Live It.” Features play a huge role in the album’s success, with Bun B and Kid Sister ensuring “Im’ma Get It” is a win while Devin the Dude and Z-Ro help turn “Smoke Everyday” into a grand stoner anthem. The man’s fine on his own, too, with “Take Notes” and “I’m on Patron” both placing in the album’s top five plus the two cuts credited to his supergroup Expensive Taste -- Wall, Barker, and Skinhead Rob from Transplants -- avoid the usual rap-rock clichés. Barker’s productions aren’t as showy as you might expect, acting as true support with some interesting ideas, and the rest of the tracks are well handled by the returning Dirty South crew Beanz & Kornbread, giving the album a proper mix of new and old. You wouldn’t think the man had so many aces up those short sleeves, but one listen to The Heart of a Champion and haters will have to rethink their arguments.

Track Listing

1 Take Notes Barker, Paul Slayton 3:11
2 Showin' Skillz Barker, Edwards ... 4:30
3 I'm on Patron Johnson, Paul Slayton, Roy 3:49
4 Round Here Chamillionaire, Felder ... 4:05
5 Im'ma Get It Barker, Freeman ... 4:15
6 Stay Iced Up Christopher, Dang, Dozier ... 4:05
7 Pocket Fulla Presidents Adams, Johnson, Mitchell ... 4:04
8 Ain't a Thang Barker, Jones, Paul Slayton 3:14
9 My City Blocker, Johnson, Mims ... 4:08
10 Smoke Everyday Beanz & Kornbread ... 6:38
11 Live It Barker, Elpadaro, Highwater ... 4:04
12 Not My Friend Aston, Barker, Paul Slayton ... 3:16
13 Still On Paul Slayton, Yung Chill 4:01
14 Heart of a Hustler Aston, Barker, Paul Slayton 3:24