City Life + Arts Music

Paul Wall talks UH, upcoming performance

Paul Wall performed at Cage Rage 2022 as a guest appearance. | Sean Thomas/The Cougar

Houston has long been a city known for artistic expression. From the numerous murals blanketing Third Ward to the long list of celebrities, musicians and entertainers that call Houston their home, the city has defined its legacy through cultural influence. 

Few individuals, however, have had as profound an impact on the University as Paul Wall. Aside from his work with UH producing “Red Alert,” Paul Wall is a former student and one of the most notable musicians to come out of the “Golden Age” of Houston hip-hop.

The Cougar spoke with Paul Wall about his experiences at the University and his upcoming performance as a part of Red Bull SoundClash. 

Q: In your experience, what makes UH unique?

Paul Wall: To me, it’s just the school’s diversity. It really reflects the diversity of Houston. It’s this blend of cultures, this blend of people from all over that come from elsewhere and come to Houston. Ultimately, everyone ends up leaving a little piece of themselves here, and in turn, they end up taking something with them to wherever they end up.

Q: What do you think it is about UH that brings all these different cultures together?

Paul Wall: I think there’s definitely an underdog vibe at UH that brings everyone at the University together in a way that’s kind of hard to describe. You know, Houston isn’t a college town. It’s not like College Station or even Austin with UT. So going up against these schools where the city is a part of the school makes it a bit of an uphill battle, and I think that has united us all as Cougars. 

Q: Do you feel your time at UH, and your exposure to its diversity, influenced your music? 

Paul Wall: In my high school, it was like only like one or two walks of life where like, your parents either didn’t have money, or they had a little bit of money, but it wasn’t a lot. Even back when I was there, I remember just being blown away by all the new people and new cultures I was exposed to.

The University has come a long way since then, but there’s always been this sense of pride that accompanied the UH community. So seeing that pride and being a part of it allowed me to experience other cultures and perspectives that I wouldn’t have encountered otherwise. I think that has had the most significant impact on me, creatively speaking. 

Q: What would you say to students considering pursuing a career in music production?

Paul Wall: You know, it’s not an overnight thing. I went to UH in the fall of 1998. So, it’s been almost 25 years. Really, it’s a journey that never ends. But if this is something that you love to do and you’re passionate about it, you just have to go for it.

Sometimes you’ll have to take risks, and sometimes you might do things that others won’t appreciate fully. But that’s okay. As long as you’re your biggest fan and you continue to love what you do and what you make, you’ll know you’re on the right path. 

Q: Thanks for the insight. Before we close out, do you mind telling us about your upcoming performance? 

Paul Wall: SoundClash is like a collaborative competition with two stages for two artists. Each artist is doing their own thing, but it’s a celebration of each other, you know because I’m a huge Gary Clark Jr. fan. There’s definitely a bit of a friendly rivalry at play too. With him being from Austin and me representing the H, it’s going to be a cool show. 

The Redbull Soundclash performance will be held on Nov. 10 at 713 Music Hall. It will feature Paul Wall facing off against Gary Clark Jr. in a collaborative competition that celebrates the cultures of both Austin and Houston. 

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