Tall Paul
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Tall Paul

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Solo Hip Hop Soul




"Vice and Apple Music Team Up for “Reservation Rap,” a Documentary on Ojibwe Rappers from Northern Minnesota"

Vice and their newly launched TV channel Viceland have been hitting the road as of late documenting the every day life of artists from all over the country. From the Bompton series with Kendrick Lamar to Chicago to hang with Chief Keef, Vic Mensa and artists alike. Today Vice has teamed up with Apple Music to showcase a hidden pocket of talent from Minnesota. While most will think instantly of Minneapolis and their current streak of heat from artists like Allan Kingdom and Lizzo, Vice chose a different route and went North for “Reservation Rap,” a segment of their series The Score.

Following Native American artists Baby Shel, Tall Paul, Thomas X and Left Field from the Ojibwe tribe, this two part documentary takes you inside the tribe and shows the viewer what’s it’s like to live on the reservation. Surrounded by heavy drug use and violence, these young emcee’s have transferred their feelings and upbringing to the pen to craft hard hitting, transparent raps.

Relating to subject matter from Biggie tracks and feeling the pain in records from Tupac, these emcee’s are putting in work day in and day out to have their unique voice and story reach the entire country.

We had the pleasure to hear Baby Shel and Tall Paul spit bars last year during our live broadcast from Soundset Festival (see below). You can watch the trailer above and head HERE to watch both episodes via Apple Music.

Baby Shel blesses the mic at 4:50 of the first video and Tall Paul kicks his verse at 4:30 of the second video below. Baby Shel will also be performing at this year’s Soundset Festival which Sway and Heather B will be hosting. - Sway's Universe

"Dave Chappelle Show of Love For Ojibwe Rapper Tall Paul Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/11/19/comedian-dave-chappelle-checks-out-ojibwe-rapper-tall-paul-152314"

For a hip hop artist, getting noticed by Dave Chappelle is no small thing. The brilliant standup and sketch comedian who's been more or less M.I.A. since his Comedy Central series finished its run in 2006 has always been an advocate for rap artists he likes, and often featured live hip hop performances on his show. Chappelle is currently performing some gigs in Minneapolis, home turf of rapper Tall Paul, and last Monday he was alerted to the existence of one of Indian country's most promising rhymers. The exchange occurred after Chappelle had joked with two Native American audience members. Then, as described by Vita.mn:

When one of them told them there’s a Native American rapper in the Twin Cities making a name for himself, Tall Paul, he responded, “Minneapolis be putting out the wildest rap records: Brother Ali, Tall Paul… .” Amazed by the latter’s story, he commented, “If he really can rap, I’ll sign him up for a million dollars. But he better be more than 5’7”, or I’m gonna be pissed. … And he better have better rhymes than just ‘Tall’ and ‘Paul.’”

The following night, Tall Paul showed up at the club, CD in hand to give to Chappelle. But it turned out to be unnecessary. Tall Paul says Chappelle "mentioned that he had downloaded my album. He surprised me when he mentioned 'Protect Ya Spirit.' So apparently he got his hands on my music before I could even get a CD to him."

Paul (born Paul Wenell, Jr.), Leech Lake Ojibwe, said that he's had trouble getting coverage in the local press, despite having a strong following. Whether Chappelle's shout-out will raise his profile remains to be seen, but it can't hurt. - Indian Country Today Media Network

"The Perfection of Imperfection: Tall Paul's Hip Hop Album 'No Good Good Guy' Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/03/25/perfection-imperfection-tall-pauls-hip-hop-album-no-good-good-guy-163924"

There is an intriguing but problematic duality in the waves of hip-hop music from Indigenous artists: the negative lyrics and messages, and the positive or motivational speaker-esque lyrics and messages.

The challenge of this duality is perhaps best addressed by Tall Paul (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe) an emcee from Minneapolis, MN who released his latest album this past December, entitled “No Good Good Guy.”

“I decided to make a project that more completely portrayed me as I entirely am,” Paul told ICTMN. “The good, the bad and the in-between, so to speak. I value honesty and it was just important to me to show my listeners all sides of who I am, for various reasons."

“I don't want anyone to ever feel like I intentionally mislead them should they come across some of my not-so-well-mannered music, because it is out there. I don't want to be boxed into being something that I'm not, or something that doesn't represent all sides of me.”

Prior to the release of his latest album, Paul received praise for his video Prayers In A Song which has been utilized by organizations including An Ojibwe Peoples Resource and has well-over 279,000 views on YouTube.

In the first track on his new release, “All Kingz,” produced by Colin Devane, Tall Paul starts with a slow build of percussion and instruments, and his lyrics challenge the ideology of power, gender roles and the norms of society.

Specifically, Paul addresses the accusations of infidelity against civil rights pioneer Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

But even if he was an infidelious cheater, does that erase the fact he was a great rebellious leader?

Paul’s moral of the story: even King was an imperfect being, so we too can all be “Martin Luther Kings.”

“Puppy Love” (produced by Burna Beats) is reminiscent of Rosie and the Originals, while “R&B Was Fake” (produced by G Mo) might help listeners feel as though they are back in the craze of 90’s R&B.

The ninth track, “Reservation Guilt Trip” (produced by 40Deebz), is another beautiful blend of instrumental and when combined with the lyrics: “Took away our ways of life, took away our Native tongue and taught their English to our young,” the beat pulsates with a rebellious rhythm.

At the end of “Reservation Guilt Trip,” Paul explains his reason for his amends-seeking a capella.

“The end of the song came from a longing desire to make amends to all those I've wronged in one way or another over the course of my lifetime. I guess the weight of the guilt from all those things can be humbling. Correct amends making is definitely an important part of my life now,” says Paul.

The final two songs don’t directly cover serious issues - rather, they’re just great hip hop with hard-hitting and witty punchlines.

With so many serious issues being presented throughout the album, it’s nice to just sit back and have fun reacting to each punchline that Tall Paul, Spotlight Team Deebo, KnoX, and Baby Shel bring out.

“I notice that too much, Indians want us to just be ‘Indians.’I think it's good to lyrically flex and have fun sometimes, not every song or project needs to be in a serious or introspective tone,” Paul says.

“I think it's good to create a balance that more truly represents who we are. Being the type of artist who tends to lean more toward writing songs that have some sort of deeper meaning to them, it can be a relief to get a little careless with it sometimes, if not often.”

Tall Paul’s album “No Good Good Guy” can be streamed and downloaded at http://tallpaul612.bandcamp.com/album/no-good-good-guy - Indian Country Today Media Network

"Remixing Education: Tall Paul’s Contributions to Decolonizing the Classroom"

For the past three years, I have taught a course in my department titled “Ethnic Studies 310: Hip-Hop, Politics and Poetics.” This class, a favorite of mine to teach, always generates interesting responses when we discuss Native hip-hop. Since the university I teach for is located in California, I have many students who were raised in the public education system of this state. This means that they have all conducted a “mission project” in the fourth grade during their elementary school education. This project does not implement a critical lens on the colonial and genocidal project of the mission system, nor does it offer these students accounts of Indigenous resistance to this violent and abusive system. Instead, the assignment romanticizes and celebrates these missions within California’s history to the point that, when these fourth graders become young adults and enter into their college curriculum, many of them have vested interests and ideas in neocolonialism and anti-Indigenous racism. In fact, when it became national news last year that on my campus a group of Greek organizations held a party themed “Colonial Bros and Nava-hoes,” many of the students who participated continue to assert that nothing was wrong with this party or this act of redface. Thus, when I discuss Native hip-hop in my course, I have many students who are often surprised to learn that not only do Native peoples exist but they can rap, break, scratch, and write graffiti.

Not only are Native artists producing hip hop culture but, utilizing Glen Coulthard’s idea of rejecting the “politics of recognition”, it is not enough to suggest to my students and recognize that Native rappers exist. As Coulthard points out, “the politics of recognition in its contemporary liberal form promises to reproduce the very configurations of colonialist, racist, patriarchal state power that Indigenous peoples’ demands for recognition have historically sought to transcend” (p. 3). So, how can I convey this idea in a General Education course on hip-hop where many of the students have little knowledge about Indigenous peoples?

One artist that I turn to is Ojibwe rapper Tall Paul and his track titled “Protect Ya Spirit.”

In this song, Tall Paul rhymes,

God forbid our kids go to school to learn from fools,

the melting pot’s already injecting ‘em with the rules,

daughters gotta be barbies to get in with the cool,

fellas wanna be like fathers that they never knew,

I’m not saying every teacher isn’t worth their pay,

I’m simply saying most of them don’t know of colored pain,

they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,

nor can a foreign mind teach our minds old shit…
This song forms a decolonial project by underscoring how the education system can be both a colonizing and corrective space to address the abuses of the settler state. The hook of the song repeats “it’s not about the image it’s about what they teach us” until the last verse when Tall Paul implicates his own responsibility to educate and there he raps “it’s not about my image it’s about what I teach ya.” In this way, he both denies the mainstream materialism found in much of hip-hop today and emphasizes the need to transform our education system in order to teach the past, present and future of Indigenous peoples.

Moreover, the song is as much an assault on the education system for misrepresenting blackness as it is for the misguided presentation of Indigenous peoples. Thus, I understand the undertone of this song to be one of sonic sovereignty that challenges us to simultaneously negotiate blackness and indigeneity while critiquing the settler state. For example, the song states, “I’m not saying every teacher isn’t worth their pay, I’m simply saying most of them don’t know of colored pain” which suggests a misrepresentation of multiple communities of color. Tall Paul disrupts the white saviour narrative, one that is often deployed in the classroom setting through the teaching of white perspectives of history and/or through the fact that many students of color are taught misleading curriculum by teachers who are not subject to racism and settler colonialism to the same degree as their students are subject to these abuses. When Tall Paul repeatedly raps, “it’s about what they teach us,” he places a profound emphasis on relearning and reimagining how to decolonize public school curriculum for Black and Indigenous students alike.

When I present the song to my students in this way, they begin to rethink their moment of surprise about simply recognizing a Native rapper. Instead, they realize that while hip-hop is certainly a Black cultural form, it is not exclusively such. Most importantly, they see the politics and policies of containment that are wielded against black and brown folks as also being applicable to Native communities both on and off the rez. As a result, “Protect Ya Spirit” aids in the intellectual project of decolonization, rather than recognition, because as Simpson and Smith assert, the work of decolonization necessitates coalition work rather than isolation (2014, p. 11).

“Protect Ya Spirit” also heeds the message that Indigenous intellect is limitless and continuously rising. In the forward to Coulthard’s Red Skin, White Masks, Taiaiake Alfred asserts there is a New Indigenous Intelligentsia “trying to get settlers to understand that colonialism must and will be confronted and destroyed” (2014, p. x). While Alfred is particularly talking about Indigenous scholars like Coulthard, I would extend this intellectual capacity to conscious Native rappers like Tall Paul. While the respective contributions of course cannot be conflated, there is an Indigenous epistemology present in this music.

When Tall Paul raps, “nor can a foreign mind teach our minds old shit” he’s referring to the education system that purports to understand Indigenous peoples better than we can understand ourselves. This is a colonial white supremacist logic that enacts its sense of superiority at the expense of Indigenous produced decolonizing knowledge. Namely, it is a form of continued colonization that, as Alyosha Goldstein asserts, can be described as, “settlers aspir[ing] to extinguish indigenous peoples…[while they] variously affirm and naturalize their own status as native to America” (p. 3). The violence of the education system is (in part) its strategic and gross misrepresentation of Indigenous peoples that simultaneously attempts to render Native peoples and history invisible and extinct, while also vigorously hoping to establish settlers as authentically aboriginal. The popular circulation of “Protect Ya Spirit” calls on us to refuse this kind educational oppression and become the decolonial teachers that are needed. Tall Paul is one example of how Native hip-hop is doing this and why it is a productive project to continuously introduce Native hip-hop to our students. - decolonization.org

"7 First Nation Rappers Crushing Stereotypes of Indigenous People Through Music"

Ojibwe rapper Tall Paul doesn't want to be known solely as a Native rapper — and he is definitely more than that — but without a doubt he cranks out beats and lyrics that speak to indigenous communities around the globe.

His track "Prayers in a Song" addresses issues of assimilation, the continued eroding of indigenous cultures and the loss of traditional languages:

I wasn't furnished / With language and traditional ways of my peeps / Yeah, I used to feel like I wasn’t truly indigenous / Now I say miigwech gichi-manidoo / For showing me my true roots, definitely Native

Take responsibility for being educated / My people and customs originating from early phases / Of history, it's deeper than fry bead / And contest pow-wows, tears shed in the sweat lodge

The recognition of his roots and the call for education in traditional and historical ways is a political act, as indigenous groups all around the world have been systemically targeted, marginalized and silenced. The chorus of "Prayers in a Song" is the perfect act of defiance: It's a prayer in his traditional tongue. - Arts.Mic


Collaborative Projects:
Nameless - 2012 (as duo Point of Contact)
March Madness - 2013 (with Mental Madness Wreckords)
Taurus the Bull - 2013 (with Double Helix)
Solo Projects: 
Ahead of the Game - 2012
Birthday Present - 2013
Ahead of the Present - 2014
No Good Good Guy - 2015
#BadDAPL - 2017 (single)
Spirits Testin' My Gangsta - 2017 (single)



Tall Paul is an Anishinaabe and Oneida Hip-Hop artist enrolled on the Leech Lake reservation in Minnesota. Born and raised in Minneapolis, his music strongly reflects his inner-city upbringing. From personal expressions of self, to thought provoking commentary on issues affecting Indigenous and diverse communities as a whole, Tall Paul’s music evokes a wide variety of substance and soul.

Band Members