Big, Small, Paul, and Cham

Two of Houston's finest rappers are making nice. For now.

Before they teamed up to move hundreds of thousands of CDs independently, got signed to major label deals, and crafted two of the most popular albums in Houston hip-hop history, Chamillionaire and Paul Wall were just a couple of middle-class punks who liked playing basketball and video games together. They also spent hours crafting raps, focusing on how fat their pockets were—or more likely how fat they wished their pockets were. "I used to make rhymes like 'I got rims bigger than your house,'" Chamillionaire remembers.The pair had a great gimmick: the white guy (Wall) and the black guy (Cham), best friends who could both spit. Having been discovered by DJ/record-label exec Mike "5000" Watts, they released a series of mixtapes and independent albums, with 2002's Get Ya Mind Correct selling some 150,000 copies. Major labels came calling, culminating in platinum albums for both of them in 2005, the year Houston's scene broke nationally. Wall's The Peoples Champ introduced listeners to his shining grills, candy-painted low-riders, and love of codeine-laced cough syrup, while Cham's The Sound of Revenge spawned the single "Ridin'," the one "Weird Al" Yankovic parodied as "White & Nerdy."But along the way the two fell out, the result of having spent too much time together over the years and of creative differences. Cham wanted to make music with universal appeal, while Wall was mostly content to satisfy his hardcore Texas fans. "I think Paul makes a lot of songs people in the hood really like," Cham says. "But...he sometimes makes music that's directed at one audience, and I feel that he could be greater than that.""He's right," Wall responds. "He always felt he can artist [of] Jay-Z's caliber, where it's not just for the city or the state. And I always felt like I could be like Juvenile, where there's no question that he's from Magnolia [Projects], New Orleans."Wall says that UGK rapper Pimp C, before his death in 2007, encouraged the pair to bury the hatchet, and eventually they took his words to heart. Now for the first time in years, they're playing shows together, undertaking a countrywide tour that began at South by Southwest. The white kid and the black kid are back. They may no longer be best friends, but they've agreed to disagree. "[We] just have different views," Wall concludes, "and I think we're both right."

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