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The Curious Case of the People's Champ

Paul Wall is neither a cartoon nor an asshole.

"We weren't worried about singles or the beats or if a song was too street," he continues. "We went in with no set agenda and tried to make the best music we could."

Champion is certainly Wall's most mature album to date. Raekwon, Jay Electronica, Yelawolf and Jim Jones are all featured, and Wall keeps pace with all four. Barker produced a bunch of the tracks, only overpowering the MCs on "Im'ma Get It." Several songs lean toward economy-of-sound boom-bap hip-hop.

The album opens with a chorus-less track not so subtly titled "Take Notes" in which Paul unleashes his flow and allows it to rove at full speed for nearly three minutes, something he hasn't done this effectively since 2002's acclaimed Chamillionaire collaboration Get Ya Mind Correct. Cham himself shows up to crush a chorus and a verse, prompting Wall to semi-humorously acknowledge that the blogs will be pleased with their reunion.

Take Notes: Paul Wall raps more effectively on new album Heart of a Champion than he has in almost a decade.
OG PR
Take Notes: Paul Wall raps more effectively on new album Heart of a Champion than he has in almost a decade.

Z-Ro, Devin and production team Beanz N Kornbread join forces on "Smoke Everyday" for one of the year's best songs, with Wall tapering the urgency of his flow to a near standstill.

"I just try to make music and entertainment," says Wall. "I make music for the Texas lifestyle and culture. I feel like I'm a product of my environment.

"I've grown out of that immaturity a bit. When I was on Gulf Bank or Antoine, it was a whole different mind frame," he adds. "I listen to [my older music] and it sounds immature. This feels like a good, solid hip-hop album."

Probably. Only an asshole would say ­otherwise.

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