Profiles of Innovation
When you think hip hop, let’s face it, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t health. But if Houston based rapper and innovative serial entrepreneur Paul Wall has his way, it soon will be.
Wall has partnered up with industry heavyweights Shawn Ullman and Quincy Jones III to launch FeelRich.com, where they fully intend to make “Health the New Wealth.”
“I wish there was something like FeelRich when I was a kid. Famous people saying it’s OK to be healthy, to eat right to have my priorities straight," Wall says. "Leadin’ by example. I didn’t see that in my neighborhood. When I was coming up, if you were healthy, people looked at you square.”
FeelRich is redesigning how health and wellness information is distributed for the young multicultural demographic by creating, producing and distributing content that is hip, sexy and immediately actionable. The company’s goal is to reach its audience where they stand through music, online video, Twitter, Facebook, onstage and in the streets, using celebrities and brands to promote health as the ultimate status symbol.
In just a few months the FeelRich movement has gained more than 25,000 followers on Twitter and artists Slim Thug and Diddy have committed their support.
In just a few months the FeelRich movement has gained more than 25,000 followers on Twitter and such influential artists as Slim Thug and Diddy have committed their support to the cause. Despite the company’s successful launch, Wall knows he’s got an uphill battle ahead to get the word out but one that he’s prepared to tackle head on.
“Don’t wait ‘til it’s too late to fix the problem. Be part of the solution," he says. "I was 330 pounds at one point and forced to have surgery in 2010; a gastric sleeve. That was a turning point for me.
"I’ve made a complete lifestyle change, with my health, my diet, my body, my spirit and my mind. I wanted to completely rejuvenate myself and be a better me. I’ve lost over 100 pounds, feel better, look better and have more energy to focus on my career, businesses and family."
Hip hop & healthy lifestyles
Now 30, Wall grew up in Houston and attended Jersey Village High School. He studied mass communications at University of Houston for three years and worked street promotions for hip hop labels and other artists while in college. He got his start as an artist when his rap on a local mix tape became so popular that he became a staple on the mix tape circuit and a member of Houston hip hop label Swishahouse.
He appeared on several albums and in 2005 released his first solo album,The Peoples Champ, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
In 2006 Wall married his girlfriend Crystal and the couple has two children.
“There’s not a lot of representation in the urban community, particularly hip hop promoting health," he says. "It’s mostly partying, excessive partying at that. Now, as a husband and a father I want to tell my story of being overweight and unhealthy and reach out and promote a positive and healthy lifestyle and be a role model and encourage other people to change their lifestyles for the better."
“I love jewelry so I’m in the jewelry business, I love music so I’m in the music business. I’m into health and nutrition now so I’m in feeling that movement with FeelRich. However, all my hustles, my businesses build my brand.”
Wall is one of the most prolific entrepreneurs in hip hop today. In Oct. 2011, he joined forces with Silicon Valley-based social media game company Jump Shot Mobile to create the world’s first mobile battle rap game, Battle Rap Stars.
He also owns a clothing line called Expensive Taste with partner and good friend Travis Barker of Blink 182 fame. And, while health may be the new wealth with FeelRich, Wall still has a penchant for jewelry and is co-owner of Johnny & Paul’s Fine Custom Jewelry located in the Galleria. He’s known around the globe for creating custom “grilles."
“I was always taught that you had to have a different hustle for every season. ‘Cause just as the season’s change, the hustles change," Wall says. "I also believe you have to do what you love. I love jewelry so I’m in the jewelry business, I love music so I’m in the music business.
"I’m into health and nutrition now so I’m in feeling that movement with FeelRich. However, all my hustles, my businesses build my brand.”
Wall’s goal is to make FeelRich the epicenter of minority health information and the lifestyle movement for youth in inner city neighborhoods and feels there’s no limit to how far this can go.
“I’m here to build bridges not burn bridges," he says. "Feel Rich is health on your own terms, fitness in your own style and food choices that make sense on the streets where you live.”
Greg Scheinman is creator of the PBS show, PROFILE with Greg Scheinman, and an associate at Insgroup Inc., Houston's fourth largest independent insurance agency.