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.
God is amazing. Prayers work. Don't EVER let anybody convince u otherwise— Paul Wall (@paulwallbaby) March 21, 2017
Baby Bash hit the stage first with the slogan that the whole crowd was chanting by the end of the night:
"DON'T PANIC, ITS ORGANIC!"
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."
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.
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.
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.
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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.