Paul Wall has had little reason to show off his famously iced-out grills in the last two weeks. He hasn't been smiling much.
First, on September 13, Hurricane Ike tore through Houston, Wall's hometown. Then his three good friends Travis Barker, DJ AM and "Lil" Chris Baker were in a plane crash on Friday night. Baker and three others were killed, while Barker and AM remain hospitalized in a Georgia burn center. And back in July, he told SOHH.com that his good friend Emanuel Hobbs was killed in a shootout in Houston.
"Just sitting at home has been depressing," Wall said, adding that he has spent the past few days "thinking about my friends going through the plane crash, thinking about not having any power [in the city], sulking in my misery."
Wall tried to fly to his friends' side upon hearing of the crash Saturday morning, but he couldn't get a flight out of Houston. The airports are still backed up after the hurricane. So after performing at the New Mexico Takeover concert on Sunday, Wall said he would travel to Los Angeles to meet with his friends' families, then visit AM and Barker in Georgia.
Luckily, Houston is getting back on its feet, and Wall said he feels comfortable leaving his wife and two kids at home.
"Everybody is just trying to get back to normal," he said. "Most of the businesses and stuff lost power, and their windows broke. They had trouble with their roofs. It's just taking a minute for people to get back to normal. Day by day, more people are getting power."
Before the fury of Hurricane Ike, Wall had been touring with AM and Barker.
"Travis and AM do these shows," Paul explained. "They do, like, an hour-and-a-half set. They remix songs live. All the hottest music from today, the hottest music from the past we grew up listening too. AM will blend different vocals and beats. Travis will just do different drum patterns. It was so off the hook. You've never seen nothing like it ever, till you've seen one of their shows. I do a lot of special appearances where I come out and do a couple of songs for a minute. It's a whole lot of fun."
Barker produced several tracks for Wall's next LP, The Fast Life, which is slated to come out around the end of this year or the beginning of next year. Wall said three or four of those should make the cut.
"Travis Barker is a fool on the drums, but he got a lot of tricks up his sleeve with the hip-hop scene, on the hip-hop production side," Wall told MTV News at the VMAs. "He produced a few songs on my last album and a few on my upcoming one too. One of them is called 'I've Got to Get Mo'; that one's the best. Another one is called 'Ride It to the End.' Another one is called 'Pop One of These.' We have a lot of fun in the studio every time we get together. 'I've Got to Get Mo' is with an artist named Koby singing the chorus on there. Travis did the production, and he kind of came to me with the idea for the song: 'We got to get it, we got to get out there and hustle, and get our grind on.' That's what the song is about, because work-related wise, you just put in your hours, and you reap the benefits."
"You know how Akon is. When he gets on there, and he just shut it off, he turned everything upside down," the People's Champ said. "Just like he did on every other song, he produced it as well. We swap out here and there."
If you'd like more information on the memorial funds set up to benefit the families of plane-crash victims Chris Baker and Charles Still, visit the Famous Stars and Straps Web site.