Paul Wall & Termanology Talk Joint Album, Getting A 30-Year Old Pete Rock Beat & More
Collaborative albums have grown in popularity over the years but oftentimes, it’s based on an established track record. Artists with shared chemistry that drives their respective creative processes onto higher grounds. However, there’s a corporate interest behind many of these projects that often play into the algorithm rather than fan expectations. The chemistry that two artists naturally share ends up watered down for the sake of commercial appeal.
In the case of Termanology and Paul Wall, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Thanks to Statik Selektah, the two bonded heavily during the recording process of Paul’s Give Thanks album where they collab’d on “Are You Willin’.” From there, a bank of songs was continuously recorded between the two until they realized they had enough music for a full body of work.
Term and Paul connected for their new project, Start 2 Finish, which arrived on Friday, April 8. The tight 10-song project largely finds Paul inching deeper into Term and Statik’s collaborative realm, as he did on Give Thanks. This time, he’s able to work with the 1982 collaborators directly, though Term explained that Start 2 Finish feels like an extension of what Paul and Statik did on their 2019 EP.
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The idea for a full-length project together happened in the thick of the pandemic. Term explained that he and Paul would exchange text messages until the Houston legend started requesting beats. First, it was “Thailand,” which later included a verse from Bun B, before Term started to share beats from other producers that he had laying around, like the legendary Dame Grease.
“It really was just organic how everything fell into place. One song led to another. The music was calling to us,” Paul Wall told HNHH. “It was kind of clear that we need to put an album out.”
The organic process is also what led to the legendary Pete Rock contributing production for the lead single, “Recognize My Car.” The song merges together the smooth East Coast stylings that Term’s mastered with Paul Wall’s passion for Slabs. Funny enough, the collaboration was initially meant for Pete Rock’s album following a conversation with Statik, who holds down the majority of the production on Start 2 Finish.
“Me, Paul Wall, and Statik are walking down the street in L.A., and Statik FaceTimed Pete Rock, and Pete Rock says ‘Hey I’m putting together an album. I want some rappers on it. Can you get Term on it?’ and he’s like, ‘I’m right here with Term and Paul Wall. How ‘bout they do a joint for it?’ And he’s like, ‘Hell yeah,’” Term explained before revealing that the beat was actually produced 30 years ago. “Pete Rock DM’d me after the video came out and he’s like, ‘Man, this shit is so fire.’ He loved it. He posted it on his ‘Gram and he said, I made that beat in 1991.”
We recently caught up with Paul Wall and Termanology to discuss their new project, Start 2 Finish, giving each other their flowers, the importance of car culture in different cities, and more.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
HNHH: Statik played such a huge role in bringing this project together but what song cemented the chemistry to embark on a joint project?
Term: I would have to say that Paul Wall did an album with Statik, and we did a song called “Are You Willin’.” So once we did “Are You Willin’,” the vibe was there and then we did the video for it which was even more fun. We did the video, it was a good time. We went up to Bel Air Rosé. We shot it at their office. So it was really a good time shooting the video, and then I think everything else just kind of fell into place.
Paul Wall: Yeah, no doubt. That was the thing that kick-started it. When me and Statik were working on the album together, Term, we would be around each other, so we were building comradery the whole time. Even though we only maybe did the one song to kick it off, we were around each other hanging out, kicking it, getting to know each other. Vibing, and we mesh real well together. We both come from the underground. So, that’s all I listen to when it comes to music is underground music. So making underground music, it means something to me. Making the true, raw essence of hip-hop of what we’re doing where it’s just beats and bars. That is what we’re coming with, and we’re all trying to outdo each other. I’m trying to outdo Term. Term trying to outdo me. We’re both trying to outdo Statik, or whoever’s on the beat. Usually, Statik or Pete Rock or Term, but we all trying to outdo each other. Only in a competitiveness to where we uplift each other, not where we put each other down. We’re not trying to outshine each other that way. We’re trying to uplift each other and to only better each other. So us working together was like, man, we gotta do more than just one song. We can’t just end it here. And we went all the way in. Just started working on music, and was like, we don’t know what we’re gonna use it for. Then before you know it, we got enough songs for an album. And we’re like, man, let’s drop an album.
Is there any conversation about doing any future work with Pete Rock in the foreseeable future?
T: I mean we with it, fasho.
P: Hopefully, since he let us use this song. Of course, he can put us on his album, too, if he wanted, like we did for him originally. But of course, we’re waiting for him to send us something else to do instead, so we can’t wait. Me and Term, we both on standby for more Pete Rock.
T: I’ll do it today.
P: Right now. That’s how we felt about that one. That’s why we can’t wait to do more. He’s one of the G.O.A.T’s. Man, it’s so dope to be able to work with him and see he’s still got that fire that it’s like, man, it never left. Oh my god. Man, it was so dope.
T: Hey Paul, I don’t know if you knew this but Pete Rock DM’d me after the video came out and he’s like, ‘Man, this shit is so fire.’ He loved it. He posted it on his ‘Gram and he said, I made that beat in 1991.
T: What, bro? I was like 9 years old.
P: That’s 30 years later, man. Wow. He’s still making the same magic he made and created then. It’s timeless to be able to come out now and still be up to date in terms of leading the pack, sonically, everything. The sounds. Everything about it, man.
“What are the chances [Pete Rock] made a beat 30 years ago, and we go and make it a single? That is crazy. bro.”
T: What are the chances he made a beat 30 years ago, and we go and make it a single? That is crazy. bro.
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That speaks to the timelessness of Pete Rock’s production. The way you guys approach the beat, as well. It brings just a freshness to the production.
T: He could’ve made it this year, we wouldn’t have known. But he told me, hey, I made that in ‘91 on the SB 1200. And I’m like, wow. That’s crazy.
What was the conversation that planted the seed for this project, even after recording music?
T: It was during the pandemic. Paul and I started texting each other and I made the “Thailand” beat. He was like, ‘Yo, send me something.’ So I sent him the “Thailand” beat, and then he just rapped on it and sent it right back like the next day or the same day. So it just started in an organic fashion like that, and then I’m like, alright. I got another one for you. I sent him the Dame Grease beat. Then I started sending him the Statik joints, and then when I told Statik we was working on the project, he’s like, ‘Hey, I got a couple with Paul in the stash, if you want to use those.’ I’m like, ‘Hell yeah, we do.’ That’s how it all came together but it really started with “Thailand.”
P: Yeah. It really was just organic how everything fell into place. One song led to another. The music was calling to us. Even like, ‘I sent you something.’ Before I pull it up, I can hear it calling to me. It’s something in the music that I could feel speaking to my spirit. Before I even press play on it, I just know it’s drawing me. I gotta get home so I could hear this. Soon as you pull it up, the lyrics just flow. They just flow so easily to where the whole project just was a natural fit. One song after another after another, and we got to a point where we definitely meshed well together. Our different styles coming together on the beats. We knew it was something special.
It was kind of clear that we need to put an album out. Originally, it might have been just a song here or a song there or a song for Pete Rock and then something for Statik or something for Term or something for one of our homies that’s featuring both of us. As we did more and more, it was evident, like, okay, we need to put this stuff together and put a whole project out.
Was there anything particularly influencing you guys? Obviously, this isn’t something that you guys are creating with a full-length in mind but you guys clearly are aiming in a certain direction.
T: This is like a part two to what Paul and Statik did. Paul and Statik sounded so good together, that we just – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. So basically, Statik did the bulk of this album, ‘cause they tried it the last time on their joint and it sounded good and it worked so we kind of just ran it back. But that’s what it was, we saw that Statik did it first with Paul Wall and then I said, alright, we just gon’ do that again.
P: If you look at the Paul Wall music that’s come out in the past, it’s definitely more East Coast or, I would say, ‘Hip-Hop.’ At least that’s what people are saying, that’s how they’re describing it. It sounds more hip-hop than rap, whereas I normally do rap music than actual hip-hop if you want to be technical about some of it. But I mean, I got a lot of different styles in my brain and in me. I got a lot of different styles. I overthink a lot where I’ll be like, ‘Okay, how should come on this?’ By the time I start writing, I confuse myself. I be all over the place. But some beats, they just speak to you. It’s like when you trace something, you’re tracing something over a piece of paper versus you’re just creating from scratch. It’s like, I’m tracing when I’m doing this because it’s right there. The lyrics. All I need is one starting bar, one starting rhyme word to kick it all off and almost every one of these tracks it’s like, man, [snaps] within ten minutes, fifteen minutes, I’m halfway done with the verse where it’s just really clearly speak to me. It’s so easy. Just tracing something versus just drawing it from scratch. These beats really, I don’t get an opportunity to rap on these types of beats too often because traditionally, people want to hear something out of me, or at least they think that’s what they want to hear. They think they want to hear what they’re used to hearing. So anytime I come anywhere different, they’re like, uhhhh, I don’t know how to feel about that ‘cause I’m used to hearing you like this. In their mind, that’s what they want.
“With the Pete Rock beat, as soon as I heard it, it just reminded me a lot of “Drive Slow,” the song with me, Kanye and GLC. So when I heard it, I was like, ‘man, okay.’ Being that this is my first time getting an opportunity to rap on a Pete Rock beat, I’m like ‘damn, should I just go there with it on some cars shit?'”
– Paul Wall
With the Pete Rock beat, as soon as I heard it, it just reminded me a lot of “Drive Slow,” the song with me, Kanye and GLC. So when I heard it, I was like, ‘man, okay.’ Being that this is my first time getting an opportunity to rap on a Pete Rock beat, I’m like ‘damn, should I just go there with it on some cars shit? Because man, I want to come with it.’ And one of my complaints from making thousands of songs is people are like, ‘Man, you make a lot of songs about cars.’ Well, that’s what I like to listen to, so that’s what I like to create. So, with that, I was like, ‘damn, I don’t want to get my one opportunity to do something with Pete Rock and then I’m on some cars shit,’ but then, I told [Pete Rock] and Term, ‘man, it just reminds me of ‘Drive Slow.’ I got this hook. Tell me what you think.’ So, when they both told me, ‘Yeah, that’s it, man. Come with it. That’s it.’ I’m like, ‘okay bet.’ I came with the verse after and it just all went together. But even with that, it’s like I rarely get opportunities to kind of really spit on it just bars like this, from any of the Statik beats, even “Thailand,” which I didn’t even know Term made. When he sent it to me, I’m like, ‘Man, what is this?’ It was like, man I’m about to kill this. I just know I’m about to. Like, you could feel it. You almost get goosebumps or shivers or your hair starts sticking up when you just know you’re about to go in. And that’s just how I feel about every one of these tracks to where it definitely is a little more hip-hop than traditional Paul Wall music.
This was an opportunity I did not take lightly. One, to come with it with Term, ‘cause it’s like, shit, he ain’t no slouch. Man, I got to come with it if I’m doing something with Term ‘cause he gon’ come with it. So that definitely gives me that motivation, like, man, I’m in here with one of my brethrens who’s a real lyricist. Well, that’s gon’ help bring it out of me. Then I also got this opportunity to do something with, like, the greatest producers in hip-hop. So that’s why I’m like, man, what else we got? If you gon’ ask if there’s gonna be a part 2, shit, probably, ‘cause we gon’ be recording. As long as they making beats, shit, I’m ready to rap on them.
T: We gotta get DJ Premier on the next one man.
P: Yeah, man. Aw, man. Hell yeah.
T: I just want to give your flowers real quick. I fucking love that hook, bro. And I’m so happy you rapped about your car because I love that shit. That was the best thing you did. I still hear it, and I’m like, ‘man, thank God he wrote this song,’ because this song is it. Everywhere I go, bro. I went to SOB’s last night with Statik. Rest in Peace Phife Dawg. We went over there to show love, and everybody, yo that’s “Recognize My Car.” So, it’s buzzing man. The streets like it for a reason. I’m getting love out here. They lovin’ it. They lovin’ the “Recognize My Car.”
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I wanted to ask you guys about the video ‘cause what I found ill about it is Paul, you’re flossing your Caddy. What’s the significance of Cadillacs when it comes to just rap culture and coming up for you two?
P: Well, it’s a little different. One thing people don’t take into consideration is how people listen to their music and why they listen to it that way. Most people that I knew that grew up in New York, born and raised, don’t have driver’s licenses. They’re used to taking cabs or taking the train. So when you’re doing that, how’re you listening to your music? With some headphones. Well, here in Texas, we all got cars ‘cause it’s so spread out. We gotta drive all the time. So we’re used to listening to our music in the car. So the music is made a little bit different. When you’re listening to music in headphones, you pick up on different types of elements than when you’re listening to it in the car. Cadillacs, being the elite mode of American-made transportation, whether there’s the comfort, the luxury, or just the smooth ride or any of that. It’s just something that has always been a part of the culture. When you gon’ ride, you gon’ ride in the car, and if you can afford a nice car, it’s gon’ be a Cadillac. Now, the foreigns, they’re a little different. They’re seen as a step up ‘cause they’re usually a little bit more expensive and that’s one of the other things, too. If you can’t go all the way, you gon’ go as far as you can go, and sometimes, it’s a Cadillac. And we go all out with them. So when it comes to fixing up the car, if it breaks down, it’s a little easier because it’s American-made parts. So, a lot of that we could do ourselves. Whereas if you’re fixing a BMW, you gotta be trained, it’s a little slightly different. The Mercedes-Benz, all those types of foreign cars. Or if you want to go all the way like Rolls Royce or the real, real foreign cars, you can’t change a Lamborghini’s oil in your driveway like you can a Buick. So, it’s a little more hands-on with it. We fixin’ our cars and little minor repairs and stuff like that. So, with the music, with the cars, we represent for them.
“Here in Texas, we all got cars ‘cause it’s so spread out. We gotta drive all the time. So we’re used to listening to our music in the car. So the music is made a little bit different. When you’re listening to music in headphones, you pick up on different types of elements than when you’re listening to it in the car.”
– Paul Wall
Of course, in Texas, and all around, if you got that big cake, you gon’ floss it. The bigger the cake, the bigger the flosses. Of course, you gon see people in Rolls Royces or Bentleys or Lamborghinis or Ferraris or any of that. The list goes on. But, it’s something about them Cadillacs. We take a lot of pride in how we do it differently in Texas but also just, I’m a car enthusiast. So, how we do it in Texas isn’t necessarily how they do it in Florida or how they do it in, even Alabama, or how they do it in California, or how they do it in Detroit, or on the East Coast. Every place has a unique way they fix it up. But I’m a car enthusiast so I love all of it. One thing, you put a clean Cadillac on some vogue tires and some chrome factory wheels, that’s gon’ look nice no matter where you’re at.
So, I loved putting my car in the video. That’s another thing, too, in the car culture, the car owners are kind of celebrities, so if you got a nice car… It was kind of specific and true to me because people recognize my car. But no matter where you’re at, if you got a known truck around the neighborhood, around the city, or you got a known, whatever you driving, they recognize that car. It don’t necessarily have to be a slab, but the slab riders, or the car riders, they kind of become celebrities. That’s just how you kind of become a celebrity-based off of what kind of car you’re driving and the more custom it is, the more celebrity you get. If you buying it off the lot and that’s all you are doing, it’s like, okay. You’re kinda like, ‘Okay, yeah, we see you. You have a nice car.’ But when you customize it and you do it from the ground up, you really get respected for it and this is for whatever kind of car you drive. If you fix it up from the ground up or you really put that care into customizing it, you’re gonna earn those extra stripes of respect. So, the car really means a lot. What you do to your car really means a lot to how you are respected in it but the song really, man, it was something, “Recognize My Car even if they don’t know me.” It’s something I feel like a lot of people can relate to even if you’re not driving a slab.
T: Hell yeah. And to add on to that, I grew up in the garage. My father had seven brothers and they customize cars, so I grew up watching my dad make lowriders. He built lowriders, hydraulic cars bouncing off the ground, big muscle engines, candy paint. He’s painting the cars two-toned different colors, upholstery, all that. So, I love cars, too, and I don’t even know if Paul knew that but I grew up in that culture, as well. My father has built hundreds of cars for all the biggest people on the East Coast, like he’s a super legend. His name’s Domingo Carrillo. He is a super beast. So, my love for cars is infinite, as well. You could hear it in the bars. I’m talking ‘bout my man YSP got the Porsche. I got the Bonneville. Just different whips I’m talking about. That’s real life. Those are not fake bars. Talking about the cars in my life, too. Yeah, we both love cars, basically.
P: I remember on the outside looking in when I couldn’t afford certain cars. Anybody could spit a rap bar about having a Bentley but that’s just a rap bar. But when it’s a real life car, fixed up in front of your face, it ain’t got to be a Bentley. It could be a low level car. If you take care of it and fix it up nice, you gon’ get the same love and respect as when that fake Bentley pull up or whatever. When you go and you see people taking care of their cars, fixing their cars up, some people have a particular car because it means something to them. That was their dream car 10 years ago or 15 years ago or whatever. Outside looking in, sometimes people just judge it as ‘oh, what is the name brand of the car? What is the dollar of the car?’ But when we’re really in it, man, we don’t judge that. It’s more off of what you put into it or how you take care of it versus how much did it cost.
T: Facts. In my hood, dudes will throw twenty thousand dollars in a 1984 Toyota Corolla 1.8. It don’t really matter the car. It’s what you did with it. You hooked up the engine. Dropped that bitch. Put different suspension in there. I don’t know. We’re going on a rant at this point, man, we love cars as you could tell.
How do you think being in that atmosphere of working together in the same studio, or even in different cities, affects the creative process?
T: I think it’s easy. If you’re in the studio with somebody, it’s mad easy to work with ‘cause you could just be like, ‘Nah. Say that rhyme better. Or, yo, I didn’t like that bar. Or, yo, make sure you end your verse with ‘Recognize My Car.’’ Make sure we both say that so it sounds cohesive. It’s a little easier to coach each other through and make a classic, but I mean, as you see, we did most of these not in the lab together and they’re still classics so we’re professionals. We know what we’re doing.
P: I definitely like being in there a little bit better ‘cause you could vibe. Some people go in the studio and somebody go in the corner and somebody else go in the other corner, and then they go in the booth and the song is all over the place. Neither one of them talking about the hook. It’s three different songs. It’s the hook, this verse, and then, that verse. But that’s not how we are. We’re vibing in there. We’re having the time of our life, too. Man, we having fun, like, ‘Bitch, I’ma come in,’ and I’ll just say one bar. ‘Oh I like…