October/November 2013

by Chloe Cairncross

Fresh Talent: Paul Williams

by Chloe Cairncross

Fresh Talent: Paul Williams

who retains a self-effacing Kiwi charm despite the bombast one expects of hip hop. He is a man of enigmatic dualities, negotiating the divide between public and private, music and theatre, ‘real’ and not so.
‘Should I rap ‘bout my cash or my cars or my cribs? Or spit something real about things that exist?’’ (Diamonds)
Williams’’ oeuvre is predominantly characterised as (parody) hip hop, but songs like Reading Courtenay are softer, more sedate, and scratching at the personal. Indeed, the title of his latest EP, ‘Largo Jones’’, makes use of the musical term for a slower tempo. It also happens to incorporate the last name of James Bond’’s nemesis in Thunderball, Emilio Largo. Whilst attempting to adopt a villainous, posturing alter-ego, Williams is not afraid to slow the tempo down to allow for real sensations to creep in, whether he is singing about being poolside or watching movies alone.

‘Largo Jones’’ was a purely solo effort, spawned from a mic and Logic Pro software in the confines of his bedroom.

“I’’m not very technically advanced,”” he defends, but on that had me fooled. The samples that are artfully melded into seamless and catchy beats are a real feat in polyphonic intertextuality.
“Because I’’m doing it by myself, there’’s no discussions, no meetings… I just piece it together.””

This makes for interesting choices that layer up like a postmodern novel. How often have you seen Frank Sinatra and Jojo in the same line-up? Well, Palm Trees makes sure to remedy this with a cruisey, breezy rhythm, perfect for the oncoming summer.

Williams has a laid-back and open attitude to all forms of media, not surprising given that he is in his final year of studying Musical Theatre at the Whitireia Performance Centre in Wellington. His shy demeanour explains his escapism into the world of movies.
“I do go to the movies by myself a lot… Ideally, I would be directing and starring in movies, as well as doing the music for them.”
Williams originally garnered attention for his rap parodies on YouTube. He wrote his first rap at 12, purely to entertain friends as a joke.

Lupe Fiasco opened his eyes to the broader potential of hip hop with Kick Push, and Kanye West remains his ultimate inspiration. Songs like Alone show Williams as self-reflective and grave at times, despite the light-heartedness of the beats surrounding the lyrics. This is indicative of the hold music has over him – he is constantly imagining new tracks.

‘Largo Jones’’ is available for free download from Bandcamp. I think he deserves to have his simple dream idealised: “Where do I see myself in 10 years time? Well, I hope to be very successful…””

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