My worst nightmare’s waking up and being broke

My mind frame is go get it with no excuse

If all that crying though help me, then tell me what’s the use?

My hustle schedule is all night and all day

If there some paper to be made, then I’m on the way

My daily routine is stacking chains and hitting licks

I use my with stick go get it and stack them chips

The haters bumping they lips to try to throw me off

But my eyes on the green like I was playing golf

I’ll never ease up mashing until the day I croak

I’ll be eighty selling med’s to old folks

I keep my mind on bread just like a baker

My eyes on that paper till I meet my…“ – Paul Wall, “Paper” (2008, Crack by Z-Ro)

On the release of Fast Life, Houston veteran Paul Wall gave HipHopDX five tips on how to stay head-above-water in this recession, while giving very personal examples that taught him to “keep his eyes on paper” and “drive slow” for all the right reasons.

1. Never, Ever, Ever Give Up. Just Adapt.

I think the most important thing is you have to grind and work. You have to go and get it. A lot of times, with it being a recession, it kind of brings the atmosphere down, and makes you a little depressed, and you lose motivation. You might feel like your work isn’t paying off. But you cannot stop grindin’, you cannot stop workin’ and hustlin’ – no matter what you do. You switch it up here and there, maybe switch up your hustle – try some side hustles or something. These same work ethics apply, no matter what you’re doing – whether you’re workin’ at McDonald’s, whether you rappin’, or if you’re in the streets, hustlin’, or if you’re on Wall Street. Grind. Grind. Grind. I think that’s the most important thing. With it being a recession, a lot of people lose hope, give up, and just walk around complainin’ on how broke they are. It’s bad for everybody. It’s not just bad for them. Even if you don’t hear somebody complainin’ about how bad it is, it’s bad for them too. They’re not broadcasting it to the world; I think that’s what people should do.

2. Put Image To The Side, If The Bills Are Weighing You Down. If You Don’t, You’ll Drown.

A lot of times people are too afraid to abandon ship [on expensive things]. For image purposes, or they just don’t know how, but you if you don’t abandon ship before you go in the water, then you’re gonna drown right with the ship. That’s just how it is. That’s just my thing to do. A lot of people did that. A lot of people are doing that. A lot of people should do that. If things are going down hill, then you might have to do that. That’s just being smart. That’s just plannin’ ahead. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

3. Be A (Wise) Father To Your Child, Education Creates Opportunity.

Being that my career is music, I hear musicians all the time complaining. Shania Twain was on TV talkin’ ’bout how bad it is – record sales are bad. The music industry has changed a whole lot, just in the last five years. Even 10 years from now, just imagine how much is gonna change too. Being that record sales are down and concert sales are down and ticket sales are down – not for myself, just sayin’ across the board – that’s just an interesting fact to know, with having kids. Of course my son is gonna want to be like daddy, and do something in music, ’cause that’s just what kids do. As a father, a responsible father, it’s my job to explain to him, ‘Hey man, this what you want to do? Do it for it the love. Don’t do it for the money, ’cause there’s only a select few who really make a lot of money off this.’ College is a great alternative to following in your daddy’s footsteps. I went to college too and shit, believe me, if things don’t go right in music, I’m gonna be right back in college, and I’m gonna switch it up and do something else. That’s something that a lot of people have too much pride to be able to do that. But shit, you got to do what you got to do. When bills got to be paid, you got to pay ’em, one way or another, especially if you’ve got kids. That’s your number one priority.

4. Take Your Job Seriously, Whatever It Is. You Don’t Want To Lose It.

Most importantly, I took [my music] seriously on a whole ‘nother level. I took my job seriously. Everyday I go to the studio. Everyday I go exercise, make sure my image lookin’ good, so I’m not walkin’ around like a fat slob. [Laughs] I treat it like it’s my job, and really pay attention to the details. Whereas, a couple albums back [around The People’s Champ [click to read]], I’m just goin’ to the studio here and there, comin’ up with a hook, writin’ three 16-bar verses and that’s it, this album [Fast Life], I’m writing 12-bar choruses, 12-bar verses, different things like that. It’s different, and I’m really kind of goin’ with the theme of the album, and theme of the songs. Sometimes we recorded a couple different songs to the same track, just to have ideas and have things to choose from. T. Farris, who’s one of my real, real good friends, he’s the A&R for the music, so he comes up with a majority of the ideas and he’ll tell me in a heartbeat, ‘Man, go back and write the verse over.’ Being serious about what I do, and knowing that he has an incredible ear for music, it [influences me]. I don’t necessarily think made me do this, maybe it is – maybe this made me take my job more seriously, ’cause there is a line. World events tie in. I don’t want to be broke, on my ass. So what I’ma do? I’ma gonna take this job serious.

A lot of times, it’s hard to do in Houston, Texas, ’cause so many people in Houston don’t take their jobs serious. Some of ’em do. I’m not gonna say all the rappers in Houston don’t, but it’s very easy to get lazy in Houston, myself included – sippin’ syrup everyday, smoke weed everyday, that just naturally makes you a little bit lazy, ’cause it puts you to sleep. Then you gonna wake up late. When you’re tired all day long, after months and months and years of doing that, it’s a hard habit to break. I had to get out of that for a while, while I was recordin’, ’cause, shit, it was making me too late. I stopped sippin’ syrup, pretty much the whole second half of recordin’ the album. I had to put the syrup to the side; it’s a real hard thing to do, but I did it with the mindframe of, ‘I’m gonna stop sippin’ syrup ’cause I need to take my job serious. When I’m done, I’m gonna sip syrup again.’ So I’m back on the bottle, but shit. [Laughs] I had to stop for a while.

5. Celebrate The Loved Ones Around You. They Matter More Than Grills And Gold.

The T.I. [click to read] and Rihanna song [“Live Your Life”] sums it up a bit: live ya life. You’ve your life, ’cause if you don’t, you’re gonna regret it. You’re gonna regret things. If you lose somebody close to you, or opportunities you have had, when you look back, you’re just going to regret it, so you’ve got to live your life.

When so many people thought I had got killed [on a false rumor], it was a real tough thing for me, ’cause one of my real, real close homeboys got killed. It was a hard thing for me to do to explain to people that I’m still breathin’, but while I’m doin’ that, I’m mournin’ the death of one of my good friends. That was real hard for me. He had kids, a lot of kids. That in itself right there just made me focus on my family in a whole ‘nother light. It makes me think: quite often, it can be as simple as sayin’, ‘Let me put my seatbelt on ’cause if something happens, and I’m in a crash, I don’t want my kids to be without a dad.’ Things like that. It makes me wisen up a little bit, even something as simple as putting on a seatbelt.

As far as the plane crash with Travis [Barker], that was pretty hard too, ’cause I lost two more friends. One, my boy Lil Chris, it was so ironic, ’cause just a month earlier, he was callin’ me, blowin’ up my phone, sayin’, ‘Damn it, I heard you died. I heard you got killed. Please tell me that’s not true.’ I remember callin’ him back, talkin’ to him, havin’ a conversation with him about it, and he being so relieved that I was okay. Then, a couple months later, I’m gettin’ calls at three in the mornin’, sayin’, ‘Hey man, I heard Lil Chris died in a plane crash. Please tell me it ain’t true.’ I’m callin’ him, blowin’ him up, tryin’ to find out if it was true. Sure enough, it was. It was deja vu. It was a real hard thing to deal with, losing a friend in a plane crash. You have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than you do at being in a plane crash. That’s something that I would’ve never have expected to happen.

Fast Life is in stores today.