Screwston, Texas

Paul Wall & Baby Bash Smoke Out White Oak Music Hall With Houston Rap

Paul Wall checking his grill in the green room at White Oak Music Hall before his set Friday night.
Paul Wall checking his grill in the green room at White Oak Music Hall before his set Friday night. photos by Marco Torres
Paul Wall, Baby Bash, T2 The Ghetto Hippie
White Oak Music Hall
June 23, 2017

"Engaging in organized criminal activity for possessing a controlled substance with intent to deliver THC." Those were the formal charges stemming from the arrests of ten Houstonians at a smoke shop this past December. Two of those charged were Paul Michael Slayton and Ronald Bryant, the rappers we know as Paul Wall and Baby Bash, respectively. Earlier this year, a grand jury failed to find sufficient evidence for charges to proceed to a trial. The rappers seem to have fought the system and won. Many are calling this a victory for the ongoing and growing cannabis movement toward legalization in the Unites States.

Friday night was also another milestone...It was the first major rap concert at the newish White Oak Music Hall. Paul Wall and Baby Bash were set as the headliners, something that they were definitely counting their blessings about.

Baby Bash hit the stage first with the slogan that the whole crowd was chanting by the end of the night:


He is certainly someone who has been in the game for a very long time, so it's no surprise that we caught ourselves singing and rapping along to more songs than we thought we knew during his set. The crowd was definitely into it as they danced and enjoyed his hits "Baby, I'm Back" and "Suga, Suga." I even laughed when they began to mimic the mechanical sound effects on "Cyclone."
click to enlarge Baby Bash - PHOTO BY MARCO TORRES
Baby Bash
photo by Marco Torres
Bash is originally from Vallejo, California, but was entranced by Houston's support for local artists, and released an album in 2001 on Dope House Records. He later worked with producer Happy Perez and R&B star Frankie J. Even now, many of his tracks have a laid-back, soulful sound that compliments his smooth rapping style and voice.

"Man! I'm higher than giraffe pussy up in here!" he told the crowd before dropping a few lines of SPM's "I Smoke Two Joints" and then following with his own "Legalize." It was a smooth, fun and hazy set that hit the crowd like a dab...hard and strong, but still smooth and soulful.

One thing I must mention is that the new stage lights at the venue really accentuate the concert experience. I haven't been to a show in the main room here since the early months of its opening, but both the lights and the sound are really top-notch. White Oak deserves praise as one of the best music venues in Houston. Do yourself a favor and get out here this summer.
click to enlarge Paul Wall. - PHOTO BY MARCO TORRES
Paul Wall.
photo by Marco Torres
On Friday, Paul Wall had a fresh fade he got from his barber before the show in the green room. Always reppin' HTOWN to the fullest, he wore a throwback Nolan Ryan jersey and a pair of neon-orange Gucci sneakers. And yes, the crystal ball in his mouth was shining as brightly as ever.

He began his set with "Money Don't Make Me" from his newest album, Houston Oiler. It's a track with a menacing beat, like something out of a scary movie complete with a piano accompaniment, but the message is about being successful while at the same time staying true to himself. Wall is a fan favorite because he's approachable and sincere, many times selling his own CDs and shirts at his merch tables and quick to take a photo with a fan anywhere he goes. In many ways he is the epitome of the Houston hustler...working multiple roles as a rapper and entrepreneur, all the while being a family man.
click to enlarge Paul Wall - PHOTO BY MARCO TORRES
Paul Wall
photo by Marco Torres
It was a long set filled with a litany of hits and guest verses. From his verse on Kanye's "Drive Slow" to his most iconic work on "Still Tippin" and "Sittin' Sidewayz," the way he flows and rocks the stage is nothing short of mesmerizing. He maneuvers through the tracks the way he would a slab on a pothole-riddled Houston drive, smoothly and with precision. The chill tracks are back-ended with harder stuff like "How to Be a Man Remix" and "No Favors."

The hardest applause came when he played "Grillz," not once but twice. Both C-Stone Da Breadwinner and Johnny Dang joined Paul onstage for most of the set, posing for as many Snapchat and IG Stories as they could while Paul ripped through his extensive set list. They definitely made the first rap show at this venue a great night to remember.

click to enlarge T2 The Ghetto Hippie. - PHOTO BY MARCO TORRES
T2 The Ghetto Hippie.
photo by Marco Torres

So How Was the Opener?

Has any rapper ever chosen a more appropriate moniker than Houston's own T2 The Ghetto Hippie? He wears plaid shirts, has long hair, wears beanies and sunglasses inside, loves weed and drank, and has a few choice opinions about 9/11. Oh, and he absolutely LOVES tacos! His newest single "IDGAF" is a proclamation of his attitudes, theories and mentality:

"No fucks, so what?
How'd he get this far, with no sort of luck?
A lot of ambition, and a whole lot more drugs,
And I fight my depression, with this drank I pour up!"

Introspective, self-aware and cool with a nice flow. His upcoming album, called Double Cups & Taco Trucks, should drop sometime next month.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
When he's not roaming around the city in search of tacos and graffiti, Houston Press contributor Marco points his camera lens toward the vibrant Houston music scene and beyond.