Live It – Paul Wall ft. Yelawolf, Raekwon, and Jay Electronica (prod. Travis Barker)

New track from Paul Wall, “Live It” ft. Yelawolf, Raekwon, and Jay Electronica, produced by Travis Barker.

I’d speak on the rapping, but Noz does the legwork for me perfectly:

“Paul Wall vs. blogosphere anathema. It’s like he or his A&R just looked at the front page of Nah Right one day and was like “yeah get all of them.” Well this song is not that nice so stop lying to yourself blogos. Rae sounds good, Jay is stumbling, Yela needs a verse and Paul is Paul. The Mob Figaz and Nickatana namedrops are nice though. Remix opp?

Paul’s Heart of a Champion drops Tuesday. Other NBA Jam style guest pairings featured: Dre Dog & Mitchy Slick, Devin & Z-Ro and (no joke) Bun B & Kid Sister.”

The only addition I’d make is to emphasize that this is the sort of beat for which Yelawolf’s voice and style are tailor made–uptempo but simultaneously smoky and mystical. On the subject of the beat, I’d like to speak briefly on a strange, intriguing emergence: Travis Barker, Hip-Hop producer.

Though the majority of his work has consisted simply of laying his drums over existing tracks, “Live It” suggests a promising and talented beatmaker in the body of a tattooed pop punk drummer. Or former pop punk drummer, I suppose. To think during Blink 182’s heyday that Barker would reinvent himself as a friend to rappers and a gifted producer seems unfathomable. Even in hindsight, even considering the figures with whom he aligned himself in his post-Blink days, it still seems an unlikely transition (though I can’t really speak for Barker’s pre-Blink tastes). I can hardly think of a similar comparison in music history–Malcolm Maclaren moving from punk to Hip-Hop (but, with the perspective of history and even at the time, doesn’t that just make sense?). There’s gotta be someone comparable, but successful genre busting leaps are largely unprecedented and always unexpected. Here’s to hoping that the rest of Wall’s new album, Heart of a Champion, more than half of which is produced by Barker, proves as solid as “Live It” (the beat for “Live It” itself is reminiscent of an uptempo re-imaging of “Drive Slow”/”Shorty Wanna Be A Thug,” a simple saxophone based bump that does well to support its accompanying emcees).

In other news, “Sittin Sidewayz” and the rest The People’s Champ, Wall’s brief breakthrough to the majors, remain very much underrated. Nothing dazzling, but a solid listen from front to back.

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