Thursday, July 15, 2010

Paul Wall "Heart of Champion" Review

Paul Wall returns to release “Heart of a Champion” to a surprisingly quiet buzz. Reminiscent of albums of yesteryear, the album has a 14 tracks rather than the mixtape-influenced age of 20-22 tracks. Before dropping the needle on the album I was shaking my head at the track listing. There are only 14 songs total and 11 of those include featured artists. 11 out of 14? Really? That sounds more like a compilation album. “Take Notes” kicks off the album and is good enough to hold my attention for the album. I like it enough to chop it into my mixes, but I can do without all the adlib talking. If it’s not relevant to the song then just shut up and let the beat roll. “Showin Skillz” brings us back to the screwed and chopped influence with the heavy Houston sound. The problem is the sound quality of the looped hook; it’s terrible. The production is too repetitive for a 4 and a half minute song plus I’m not a huge fan of Lil Keke. Chop his verse out and you’re down to a manageable song length. “I’m On Patron” has been bumpin around for a minute and is still a highlight of the album. The production and engineering is crisp and will definitely rattle your trunk. “Round Here” features Chamillionaire who I really like, but this song is weak and gets skipped after about 30 seconds. “Imma Get It” sounds like it was intentionally engineered to sound tinny and hollow, but that alone ruined the song for me. I want to hear every instrument pop and the vocals crisp with depth. It literally sounds like Bun B recorded his verse over a damn phone. “Stay Up” will get some spins from me in Southern markets and I’m sure it will be heard bumpin down the block out of a grip of trunks. It’s Paul Wall rippin traditional Houston flavor so fans of Paul Wall are going to love this one. Jonny Dang’s verse is comical because of his Nicki Minaj-style delivery. “Pocket Fulla Presidents” is one of my favorite tracks from the album but I had to clip Andre Nickatina’s spitmouth verse out and did the same with Mitchy Slick’s trash verse. Excellent confirmation that too many features can ruin an album. Even still – trim out the guest features and the song is dope (that’s how I spin it in my mixes). “Aint a Thang” is dope and yes, even with Jim Jones’ feature. This is one of the top 3 songs from the album easy. “My City” is forgettable and I’ll just leave it at that. Then you get to the dope “Smoke Everyday” track with Devin Tha Dude and Z-Ro. I love the funky flavor of the track and the laid back ride of the hook. This is one of my favorites. “Live It” abandons the overall theme of the album so it stands out as odd. “Not My Friend” leans towards a wanna-be rock vibe but it comes across real corny. I think “Still On” was made strictly for radio play to capitalize on the T-Pain sound. By now I’m thinking Paul Wall either had an identity crisis or he is really trying to make at least one song for every region and demographic. I would much rather listen to Paul Wall just do Paul Wall and stick with what made us love him in the first place. “Heart of Hustler” has some badly engineered guitar to test the rock flavor. The best part of the entire song is the ill drum fills – other than that – miss me with this one. I’ll listen to 6 out of the 14 tracks again and probably add 3 to my mixes. Numbers don’t lie. You do the math and tell me if it’s a good album?

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