When I met SaulPaul at Bennu Coffee on South Congress at Riverside, it was the tail end of a hectic day. Forty-five minutes later, a perma-smile was plastered to my face. When you spend time with genuinely positive people, that’s just what happens.
Not only is this master of the mic making major waves in the music scene locally and nationally, but he’s doing it with a spirit of generosity and positive thinking. A man with a fascinating story reflected beautifully in his craft, SaulPaul is an artist worth emulating.
SaulPaul: Tale of Two Lives
SaulPaul’s story begins in a rough neighborhood in Houston. Parentless by the time he was three, SaulPaul found refuge in the arms of his grandmother. She took the reins, teaching him valuable lessons about faith, education, and living life the right way. SaulPaul’s dedication and talent earned him a scholarship to The University of Texas at Austin.
But things didn’t go perfectly at UT. SaulPaul fell in with the wrong crowd, partied like a rock star, and flunked out. Not soon after, he was convicted of four felonies and sentenced to 10 years in state prison.
“In prison, I had an epiphany,” SaulPaul shared with me. “Life is the sum total of all the choices you make. I owned it. I made bad choices and got bad results, so I decided to make good choices to get good results.”
Good choices earned him early parole and a trip back to UT, where he graduated with a 4.0 GPA. And while he spent much of his life freestyling on the streets of Houston, it wasn’t until his second stint in college that he discovered his gift for music.
Neck Snapping Beats and Touching Guitar
Much like his life, SaulPaul is a tale of two musical styles. On one hand, you have classic Houston hip hop demonstrated on his first full-length record, “Get Ya Mind Right.” Songs like “I Remember” conjure images of lowriders, friends on front stoops, and hazy, humid Houston afternoons.
The other side of his musical personality is “acoustic hip hop.” By incorporating guitar licks to his laid-back, easy-does-it flow, SaulPaul injects intimacy and authenticity into his music. The result is universally enjoyable hip hop. From small clubs, to board rooms, to folk festivals, music fans of all types and stripes can appreciate this new direction.
The narrative thread tying SaulPaul’s music together is bare honesty. From the opening track of his debut full-length, he tells his story through tight rhymes and clever wordplay. The record breaks genre conventions by staying clean and tidy: no cursing, glorification of violence, or objectifying women. Just lyrics and rhymes straight from the heart.
SaulPaul’s latest record, “We Dream in 3D,” is a compilation of remixed tracks from 2016’s wonderful “Tower to Tower 2” and new compositions. Currently number one on SirusXM’s Kids Place Live charts, “Rise” is the record’s standout track. Featuring the sensational vocal talents of 11-year-old Alexia Finney, “Rise” contains an empowering message kids not only need to hear, but also live.
Other must-listen tracks include the devotional “Mama,” dedicated to SaulPaul’s grandmother, and “Be The Change.” And for those hungry for the artist’s old school Houston jams, “Do That Hula Hoop” and “Texas Two Step” more than fit the bill.
➡️ Keep reading: “Austin Mic Exchange Is Training Ground for Local Hip Hop Artists”
Music With a Message
But it’s not all about chart success. SaulPaul’s heart leans more towards touching people, telling his story, and sharing his message.
“I don’t worry about Spotify streams; I want to modify dreams,” he shared. “I want to go platinum in person instead of selling a million records.”
SaulPaul’s heart for proclaiming his message of positivity, empowerment, and reaching for the stars has taken him to extraordinary places. He’s conducted two TED Talks, performed during the SXSW conference, and has even played at the Superbowl. SaulPaul also serves as a Texas Governor for the Recording Academy and is an official Creative Ambassador for the city of Austin.
Of all his achievements and projects, the DreamIn3D Music and Arts Festival is near and dear to his heart. Essentially, it’s ACL Fest for teenagers. The program goes to low income schools and presents a full festival experience for students, including sound equipment, stages, lighting, and a platform for kids to showcase their skills. And what does the school need to do? Nothing but provide a field big enough to hold the event.
SaulPaul’s accolades and accomplishments go on and on. A rare blend of vocal chops and musicianship, all fueled by a passion for spreading positivity and empowerment. Come for the jams and stay for the message. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.
To learn more about SaulPaul’s story, message, and upcoming tour, visit saulpaul.com.
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
Who are your heroes of the Austin hip hop scene?