paulwall.jpgThanks to his ties with Swishahouse and a star-making verse on fellow Texan Mike Jones’ “Still Tippin’,” Paul Wall found himself at the forefront of Houston’s rap resurgence in 2005. Despite his lack of melanin, Paul earned props among his peers for crafting diamond grills and hit records. The other great White hope’s debut, The People’s Champ, further cemented his position in the game. However, Wall won’t be taking anyone by surprise with Get Money, Stay True.

For his follow-up disc, Paul keeps his subject matter limited to sippin’ that drank, steering wood grain, and stackin’ paper all day, every day. Such static development is usually a cause for concern, but he does it so well that the stylistic transgression is somewhat forgivable. On the brooding, KLC-produced “I’m Real, What Are You,” Wall rhymes smoother than candy paint (“I’m grindin’ like a rotor, and I’m posted like a sticky note/Stackin’ up the paper pockets fatter than a dookie rope…I’m real as a ’Pac quote/But these clowns be acting funny, like a knock-knock joke.”

The Champ succeeds again when trading flows with guests Freeway (“On the Grind”) and Snoop Dogg (“Everybody Know Me”), but Trina’s hollow bars on “That Fire” make for an ice-cold collabo over numbing bass synths. This opens the door for other questionable matchups. The piano-powered “Tonight,” featuring Jon B., is an overtly tender moment that doesn’t mesh with the rest of the album’s trunk rattlers, and the Travis Barker–produced “Slidin’ on That Oil” is an anticlimactic affair.

Paul’s saving grace, however, is the production prowess of Houston legend Mr. Lee, who handles the bulk of the beats. Whether combining gritty church-styled organs on “I Ain’t Hard to Find” or ingraining a hypnotizing horn loop on “Break Em Off,” the underappreciated beatsmith provides Wall with a proper foundation for his wordplay. Although he sometimes stays a bit too true to his formula, Paul should still manage to get paid in full. —ALVIN BLANCO
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