Watch out for “No Good Good Guy”…Tall Paul!

Posted By PowWows.com September 8th, 2014 Last Updated on: September 8th, 2014

Interview by Dr Dawn Karima, Native American Culture Editor

Ask Tall Paul why he felt it was his purpose to emcee. Don't expect the conventional “Nas and 2pac made me do it” kind of answer.

“I started writing rhymes when I was 14. I was left in awe by 106&Park's ‘Freestyle Friday' rap battle segment. When Jin won for 7 consecutive weeks, capping it off by signing a record deal with the Ruff Ryders, it was crazy. I didn't actually start writing until shortly after that, when I saw my cousin spittin' into a tape recorder one day. From that point on I just liked the release that it gave me. The lure of the rock star lifestyle that rappers exhibited in music videos was cool too,” he laughs.

Born and raised in Minneapolis, MN, Tall Paul grew up listening to hip hop from all regions. “As a kid I was listening to whoever my brothers and cousins were listening to – Snoop, 2Pac, Biggie, The Fugees, the Luniz, Bone Thugs, Twista and the Speedknot Mobstaz, DMX (sigh), and the list goes on.” This would ultimately help to mold the fatherless style of flow that he now commands.

In 2009, Tall Paul decided to take music more seriously, both recording and performing live for the first time. Still young in his career, Tall Paul has already performed in Minnesota's top venues, including First Avenue's main room. “When I got on stage to that sold out crowd in First Ave, it was like a dream come true,” he says, “I hope to rock crowds like that on a regular basis!”

“Moving forward, my goal is to relentlessly exercise the tear ducts, spinal chords and vocal chords of all who lend an ear to my music. I wanna make people shed tears of joy and pain, feel that familiar tingle down their spines, and nod their heads with conviction all while experiencing bits of laughter here and there. I wish to travel and earn a living doing so. Working with a handful of my favorite artists and leaving my own distinguished mark in hip-hop will be the icing on the cake.”

To date, Tall Paul has released two solo projects. Ahead of the Game, a weekly series in which he released a song every day the Minnesota Vikings played during the 2012 NFL football season, and the Birthday Present EP, released on his birthday in 2013. A free download of his “Ahead of the Present” mixtape can be found at tallpaul612.bandcamp.com, as well as at soundcloud.com/tallpaul612.

Tall Paul

Tall Paul

His bilingual Ojibwe-English hit single titled “Prayers in a Song” garnered over 200,000 YouTube views within it's first 2 weeks of release. The song can be found on his first project from 2010, entitled ‘Brothers: From Different Fathers and Mothers,' which was independently released with his former group mate G.Malicious as the duo ‘Point of Contact'.

“Between now and December 2014, be on the look out for my ‘No Good Good Guy' project, as well as a project I'll be releasing with producer Brady Glenn. ‘No Good Good Guy' will be available before Summer's end,” states the artist, “and my collaborative effort with Brady Glenn will be out no later than December.”

When you listen to Tall Paul's music, it's clear that he's unafraid to test boundaries that many shy away from. “I'm a no good good guy,” he laughs. I might help an elderly person cross the street with their groceries, but I'll be looking back at the rearview on the sexy lady who just walked by at the same time.” He laughs heartily.

In other words, expect to hear conscious, yet honest lyricism, placed over the beat selection of an individual who vows to only release his highest quality music.


Q) You're such a prominent presence on the music scene! Will you please introduce yourself to us? What do you want us to know about you?

A) I go by Tall Paul, born and raised in South Minneapolis, MN. Started writing around the age of 14 and have been recording and performing since early 2009. So far, I've been as far west as California and as far east as Wisconsin, haha. I'll be up in Canada shortly for Aboriginal Music Week in Winnipeg. Follow me on twitter @TallPaul612 (twitter.com/tallpaul612).

Q) You embrace your Native culture and Identity in every aspect of your life and it shows in your positive attitude and approaches to music! Tell us about your journey in music?

A) Haha, I try. I just try to be myself to the utmost, try to give y'all the best of both worlds, the good the bad and the in-between. I suppose that's my value for honesty. My approach to life and music is just to embrace the fact that I'm human, a “No Good, Good Guy”. I try my best to do good but like everyone else I also make poor choices and mistakes in my life, and that's the “No Good” aspect we can all exhibit. Nobody's perfect, but we can all try to be.

Q) How did you start rapping? What are some of your favorite accomplishments? Please give us the highlight reel!

A) I started when I was in the 9th grade or so. Would just be home watching 106th&Park on BET. My favorite segment was ‘Freestyle Fridays', when they'd have two MC's on stage battling. That really caught my interest, and on top of that I'd see my cousin recording raps into his tape recorder sometimes. Those two things, plus music videos, albums I had and what not, all of that together is what inspired me to rap.

As far as my favorite accomplishments go, I'd say making it out to the west coast to do a couple shows in Cali was exciting. Knowing I'll be heading up to Winnipeg to perform for Aboriginal Music Week on August 23rd is exciting too. Also just got word I might be going to Philly for a show soon. I'd say that traveling has been my favorite accomplishment, knowing that the work I put into my craft has reciprocated – having brought me to new places and experiences.

There are definitely some songs I'm particularly proud of, such as ‘Prayers in a Song' and the follow up track I did for it titled ‘April Fools'. Can't forget favorites like ‘Protect Ya Spiri', ‘Pieceful Revolution', ‘The Show' and more.

Performing a verse in front of 2,000 people at a sold out show headlined by Atmosphere and Brother Ali was pretty dope. Meeting people and making connections. Just the overall impact that music has made on my life, it's been largely what defines me. It's taught me a lot and helped me to become a better, more experience person. Music is life, that's the biggest accomplishment.

Q) How does your Tribal heritage appear in your life as a way of life? How does culture impact the way that you live and the way that you make your music?

A) The values of respect, honesty, humility, courage and so on, which we learn through our stories and teachings, they've become a part of who I am. When I'm on stage I feel like I'm on top of the world, but as soon as I get off stage I hang my head and do my best to remain humble. Anyone who wants to shake hands, take a picture, talk, buy merch or what not, I always make time for them because they make me who I am and I'm grateful for that. I try not to let my position as an artist get to my head. I try to inspire everyone I perform for, everyone who listens to my music, all my fans and supporters.

Q) How does practicing our Native lifeways help those who are struggling to come to understanding and freedom? What do you hope your music does in the lives of your listeners?

A) I can't speak for anyone else, but some of those lifeways helped me to turn my life around. They helped me to be an all around better person and played a big role in getting me to where I am today. I hope to have this kind of impact on my listeners, which is why I often make music that's more soulful than flashy. I want people to connect to my music in a personal way and I want them to feel that I've impacted their lives for the better. Like one of my favorite MC's put it, “If it don't touch my soul I can't listen to it”. That MC is Big Krit, by the way.

Q) You're very popular with young people. How do you encourage the next generation to preserve our precious Native culture and traditions?

A) I just try to lead by example. I don't do much in terms of teaching the culture and traditions directly, such as running sweat and things of that nature, but I do try to teach the values that those traditions taught me. I try to pass on the knowledge that the culture and traditions have given to me. I'm not a cultural teacher by any means though. I think I'd have a long way to go in order to become one.

Q) You're a Champion now, but everybody's got their something. What are some of the obstacles you had to overcome in order to achieve the success you enjoy now?

A) There's obstacles all over the place and some of my biggest ones were personal. As a kid and teenager, I moved a lot so I had a hard time socializing, cause I was always the new kid and what not. Being anti-social made it hard for me to be able to get on that stage for the first time, and even after that. Just becoming more of a people person, that was huge and I'm still working on it to this day. Overall, you just gotta be able to do what you have to do in order to get where you wanna go. Face your fears and stay true to yourself.

Q) What are the most important qualities of a performer? What are the most destructive?

A) Hmm, that's a tough question haha. I honestly don't even know how to answer that. For me, I value honesty in a performer. Sometimes ego can be destructive.

Q) Who are some of your favorite musicians? Why?

A) Off the top of my head I'd have to say Big Krit, Evidence, Jon Connor, Manny Phesto, Ab-Soul, just to name a few. Why? I'd say because they all have a unique ability to not be one sided as artists. They don't exclusively or intentionally paint themselves as good guys or bad guys. They're themselves. They're “No Good, Good Guys” haha. And of course they're lyrical. Can't have one without the other. Gotta have substance AND lyricism. One without the other just doesn't do it for me, and all of those MC's accomplish both in their own ways and styles. I appreciate that. They're highly talented.

Q) If you could offer any advice to someone who would like to learn more and possibly start performing, what would it be?

A) I would tell them to face their fears, to challenge themselves to grow. Ask questions. Ask for advice. Do it because you love it, and if you don't, then don't do it at all. It's not about being cool or making money. Music has made me cool in a sense, but it's only because I'm good at it – and the only reason I'm good at it is because I love it. Do it for the right reasons and stay true to yourself. Know that there's always room to grow and don't be discouraged when you experience hard times as an artist, such as messing up on stage and so on. It happens to the best.

Q) If you could offer any warnings to someone starting out in music, what would you caution them NOT to do?

A) Don't spend a ton of money on beats and studio time if you're not where you want to be as far as skill goes. Download free beats off of bandcamp. Jack beats off of youtube. Hone your skills before you put yourself out there too much. Don't shy away from the spotlight either though. Trust your instincts. Make sure you can trust the people who are helping you along the way so you know they're not hustling you. I had an experience with that a few times.

Q) What would you like us to know that we don't already know about you?

Hmm. Again, you can follow me on twitter here: twitter.com/tallpaul612 or @TallPaul612 for those who are twitter literate. Same for Facebook, Sound Cloud and Bandcamp. Peace!

Q) Thanks so much for sharing with us. We sure do appreciate you!

A) Thanks! I appreciate y'all for the opportunity!

Home » Native American Articles » Native American Culture » Watch out for “No Good Good Guy”…Tall Paul!

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