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Music Review: Paul Wall – Fast Life

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Filled with a series of trunk-blasting anthems, Paul Wall’s Fast Life won’t rattle your consciousness with deep lyrics and won’t threaten your well being with gangster rap. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do much of anything beyond what we’re used to from the Swishahouse People’s Champ, coming off as truly monotonous in some places and flat-out inconsequential most everywhere else.

The Houston rapper is growing up and clearly attempts to stretch things out here, but he so enthusiastically stumbles back to familiar patterns that it’s hard for him to gain any momentum. Fast Life, his fourth studio album, does little to push envelopes and seems more than at ease to roll out as a windows-down cruising record. Sometimes that’s enough, however.

The beats are solid, with some nice production from Beanz & Kornbread, Mouse, Gennessee, I.N.F.O. & NOVA, and Travis Barker (yes, that Travis Barker). Wall sounds best over clipped Southern beats and does well to create an effortless, smooth sippin’ mood while spouting mechanical, unremarkable lyrics.

That’s not to say that he doesn’t try to go deeper and offer up some strong content, of course. “Daddy Wasn’t Home” is profoundly personal, showcasing Wall in true Tupac mode with an enjoyable gliding cut that digs deep and describes how his mother kept things going when his father wasn’t around. “My daddy was a fool, addicted to brown, so he never was around, but my mama held me down,” he spits.

Sadly, a highlight like that really showcases just how average the rest of Fast Life is.

Featuring Baby Bash, “Lemon Drop” is an aggravating, cyclical joint lacking any impact. The lyrics are characterless and the chorus vocals are exceptionally weak.

“Fly,” featuring Young Joc and Gorilla Zoe, drones on and on with a repetitive two-bar loop and humdrum lyrics about, you guessed it, getting high. And Too $hort is hardly given the red carpet treatment on the undistinguished “Pop One of These” with Skinhead Rob and The Federation.

At best, Paul Wall’s Fast Life provides a respectable set of well-produced beats for the backdrop of a patio party in the hot summertime. A closer listen reveals that there’s not much here going on beneath the surface, with infrequent exceptions. Wall’s skill as MC, especially as an album-leading MC, leaves a lot to be desired and Fast Life never pushes hard enough for the listener’s concentration.

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