What you know about swangers and vogues/What you know about purple drank/What you know about poppin’ trunk/With neon lights and candy paint?
—“They Don’t Know”
Paul Wall (born Paul Slayton) says he will never forget the first time he heard his music bumping out of another man’s whip. When it happened, Paul was behind the wheel of an eggshell white Lincoln Town Car, his first piece of eye candy to hit the Houston streets.
“I was on a corner at a stoplight on Antoine and South Victory,” he reminisces. “It was a freestyle I did on one of Michael Watts’ mix tapes. Of course, I was acting a fool making a scene, and he was lookin’ at me like ‘What the f*ck is wrong with you?’ because he didn’t know it was me.”
It was 1999. Little did he know that anonymity would one day become a luxury. After years of grinding as a street promoter, Paul Wall’s diligence was starting to pay off. In no time, local Houston radio jocks began to bump the mix tape with the magic verse. He became a heavy-hitter on Watts’ popular mix tape series, leading to his Swishahouse affiliation.
A hot verse worked to his favor again in 2005 with Slim Thug on Mike Jones’ “Still Tippin’”—a joint that highlighted the three Houston MCs and introduced Paul to the commercial market via the “The Day Hell Broke Loose II” (Swishahouse, 2002).
Success in 2005 established Paul as one of the public faces of the “screwed and chopped” style of hip-hop. The term refers to a certain technique of remixing by slowing the tempo and applying various DJ techniques such as skipping beats, record scratching, stop-time, and sending portions of the music through stand-alone effects to make a “chopped-up” version of the original song.
In true Houston spirit, Paul, Mike Jones and Slim Thug rolled up to the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards in a cherry red 1971 Chevrolet Impala convertible on 22-inch Billet Specialties SLX45 wheels and Pirelli 265/35R22 tires, complete with cross-drilled rotors and Brembo brakes.
They lounged in a tan ostrich interior, bumping chopped and screwed sounds through three Memphis Car Audio 1,500-Watt amps, a 4-channel amp, and MSQ6.5 speakers. Able to play music from CDs, MP3s, and memory sticks and counting with a 10 GB hard drive, the Pioneer Premier DEH-P90HDD head unit sweetens the deal, while the Pioneer TS-W3004spl subwoofers kick in 3,000 Watts of power. Under the hood of the Impala is a mighty 502 big-block engine with a blower, cranking 800 rear-wheel horsepower.
Impalas, Cadillacs and Lincolns—that’s how Houston cats like Paul Wall get down. His Atlantic Records debut album The People’s Champ contains more classic car cues, and the reception has been nothing short of immaculate. Paul Wall is a certified superstar whose flavor bleeds into his personal car collection—a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado, a 1997 Buick Regal and the new-school 2005 Escalade and 2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS 55 AMG.