Wellington rapper Paul Williams got himself a tad lost on the way to the VBC, so I told him not to talk to strangers and tracked him down. Paul has made a name for himself over the past few years with his distinctive local take on the hip-hop genre. With a strong kiwi accent and awkward humour, his beats are catchy and his songs are full of local cultural references. “Cause I always hit the Mark like Sainsbury…I’m straight killing it David Bain” (from ‘Slice of Paul’).
His latest tracks, however, have developed a darker tone. ‘Songs for the Club’ and ‘Get on the Floor’ reveal greater personal depth. “I don’t want to go to the club and dance to Guetta, that guys forty-four—he should really know better,” he sings. His style can be described as ‘nice guy rap’ (yes, I have made that a thing). So even if you don’t generally enjoy rap, it is likely that you will still enjoy Paul.
As we were walking through the Hunter Lounge, Lupe Fiasco’s ‘Kick Push’ was playing, which was the song that inspired Paul to get into rap in the first place. “It was (the video game) NBA Live; it was on the soundtrack.” He assured me that he isn’t a massive nerd though. “I haven’t played video games for years. It was that one time. It turned out to be a good thing ’cause I probably wouldn’t be into rapping like I am now if it wasn’t for it.” He recounted meeting Lupe at the BDO signing tent a number of years ago, to get his autograph. One of his biggest regrets, he says, is not writing up a contract to trick Lupe into signing.
Paul has become a little bit internet famous with numerous music videos on his YouTube channel, ‘PaulWilliams12’(check it out). Some are filmed by Salient co- editor Ollie Neas. Paul is currently filming a music video for his latest track, ‘Not As Cool As Me’. Following this, he said that he is hoping to release a free EP. “Release that. That’s going to get ten million downloads. I’ll get calls from Kanye, Jay Z and Lil’ Wayne. All the other rappers will try and get me on their team and I’ll go with Kanye obviously, ’cause he’s my fave. Maybe do a collaboration album with Kanye. That’s basically the plan.” He is also looking at starting a rap group.
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The interview took a serious turn when I asked what animal best represents his personality. “A cat, a domesticated cat” specifically a Scottish Fold like Maru, the cat that loves boxes. For cat lovers out there, Paul’s cat is a Birman. The interview then took another turn when I asked what animal he would aspire to be. “Any cat would probably aspire to be a lion,” he replied wisely.
Despite having over 3,500 likes on Facebook, “most of my fans are my friends”, he said. Cute, right? He said that he wrote songs about Nelson as a “ploy to getting famous in Nelson”. His home-town features heavily in his music. His first hit, ‘Night & Day’, was based on a local dairy which must have a lot of cultural significance: “a dollar mixture and a dollar pie”. In ‘Nelson On My Mind’: “Any way you slice it, its Dave Dobbyn heavenly”. In talking about Nelson, Paul looked a bit sad and said “it’s a great place, lovely city, I miss it a lot.” See kids, Paul is just like us: he has emotions.
I asked what song of his he wanted me to play for the end of the interview. “One that I’m not normally credited for but it is me. It’s called ‘Dark Fantasy’ it’s technically from Kanye West’s album but it is me who recorded it and wrote it.” On a final note, I have a message from Paul. “If there are any thieves listening out there I don’t have any expensive jewellery in my house.”
Isabella interviews local acts every week on ‘Bella’s Super Cute Hangout’ 4-7 Fridays.