Did high gas prices kill off Paul Wall? Not really — that's just a coincidence. Rather, the H-Town artist known for his candy cars and diamond grills has suffered from being too closely identified with a regional sound that is no longer fashionable. Just as Chingy stopped selling records after the St. Louis "right hurrrr" movement fell off, Wall has been hurt because the chopped-and-screwed sound has lost popularity. It's too bad, because his latest album, Fast Life, is a lively, excitable work that does its best to update his style. From the soaring synths of "I Need Mo," produced by the suddenly in-vogue hip-hop beatmaker Travis Barker (yes, from Blink-182), to the deep-South bounce of "Fly," Wall is clearly trying to make himself more current. Unfortunately, since his rhymes are no longer buried in bass, Wall's awkward, clunky lyrics are left exposed. "I learned from life's lessons / If you keep on pressin' / You'll eventually end up on top / Like salad dressing," he tells us on "Got To Get It." Life doesn't always work that way. A few years ago, Wall happened to be in the right place at the right time, but that place's time is sadly no more.
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