Paul Slayton was not the first man to put a grill in his mouth. Paul Slayton wasn’t the first rapper to rep the Dirty South. Slayton wasn’t the first baller to pimp out a Lexus, and Slayton wasn’t the first to shout out Houston, Texas. What makes Slayton noteworthy then; what is it about Slayton that has the “Internet Going Nutz” that caused him to declare himself “The People’s Champ” on his very first solo album? In part it was due to the fact he had already developed a reputation due to his work as one half of the duo Paul Wall & Chamillionaire, and in part it was due to his affiliation with powerhouse label Swishahouse when their uniquely crunk Southern style started to go mainstream. Mostly though it’s the strength of his balleriffic personality as heard on songs like “Break ‘Em Off,” the lead single from his sophomore album “Get Money, Stay True”:

“Now I gotta work my woodgrain wheel
Poppin trunks, poppin pills, still poppin seals
High up in the hill with my mind on mill’
Piece and chain swangin, bankroll, shiny grill
Baby I got million dollar dreams with my mind on cream
I’m in that mean green machine clean on 19’s
Flat screens in the headrest, swangin like a swing set
Brandywine paint wet, comin down that’s a vet
I’m in the lot chasin broads like a lesbian
Full of that kush flower, I’m breakin off pedestrians
Higher than a street light, floatin like a parachute
Buzzin like a bumblebee, mustard green Bentley coupe
Young gangsta, mack game sharper than a thumbtack
Breakin ’em off, makin all the boppers attract
Then they watch me, I’m rocked up fully loaded and slabbin
Tryin to hit it and quit it and walk off like Big Poppy”

It’s hard to miss Wall on the radio, as his Houston drawl and slick talkin’ raps instantly give him a unique hip-hop voice. It’s even harder to miss him in a music video, as his grill full of jewelry flashes so brightly you may at first miss the fact he’s not blessed from birth with an abundance of melanin. What he is blessed with though is an abundance of talent, allowing him to get “On the Grind” over a Mr. Lee beat and outshine the guest stars he shares the track with:

“I got money on my mind, Ben Frank on my brain
Intoxicated by visions of chains and diamond rangs
One thing here to attain is fortune forget the fame
Been ballin since back in the game, the change ain’t strange
These lames tend to complain, it’s a God damn shame
You think you flyer than a plane but you washed up in the drain
Baby peep the picture frame, it’s all work no play
My hustle schedule is simply all night all day”

It’s Paul Wall’s combination of drive, charimatic personality and unique (arguably slightly absurd) look that really break him apart from the pack. On “The People’s Champ” all of this was combined with the kind of beats that could make even a marginally talented rapper into a Southern heavyweight. “Get Money, Stay True” features the same level of talent – in fact if anything Wall’s writing has improved and flow has gotten a little tighter – but something is missing musically. While I honestly gave up on trying to read the liner notes given they are writ in microscopic print on a badly contrasting background, there are some here who should reconsider their career choice as producers. It’s hard to make someone like Wall sound boring, but he and Trina both sound totally unmotivated on the tired beats of “That Fire.” It’s hard to tell whether it’s Jon B. or Wall’s song on “Tonight,” but my advice is that Slayton should have let the crooner keep that generic R&B beat for himself. Besides the ridiculous title of “I’m Real, What Are You?” the track sounds like a song that should have been reserved for a DipSet mixtape, altogether appropriate as Juelz Santana guests. “Everybody Know Me” has to rely on the strength of Wall and Snoop Dogg’s raps, because the bass is completely lacking and the melody switches between three different notes ad nauseum.

That’s not to say there aren’t a few songs here and there that work to the fullest level, including the “I’m Throwed” duet with Jermaine Dupri where Wall is spitting “fresher than a fruit bowl,” or the appropriately familiar Southern Swishahouse sound of “Bangin’ Screw,” but by and large this album is missing the kind of personality that made the previous album’s songs like “Sittin’ Sidewayz” and “They Don’t Know” hits in both the underground and mainstream. Perhaps the Screwed & Chopped version comes off better with a longer drawn out sound and a deeper boom, but the surprising thing about “Get Money, Stay True” is that it just isn’t as crunk as a Paul Wall album SHOULD be. This one is officially a Sophomore Slump.

Paul Wall :: Get Money, Stay True
6.5Overall Score