The USO <3s Paul Wall

Paul Wall performs during his 2009 USO Tour at the Boardwalk at Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan.

When asked to think of USO entertainers, many people imagine Bob Hope or, more recently, country music superstars such as Toby Keith. Grammy-nominated rapper Paul Wall may be less expected, but, having recently come back from his 5th USO tour to the Middle East, is definitely one of the biggest supporters of the USO and our nation’s troops!

How did you get started touring with the USO?

There was a guy in Texas, his name is Mattress Mack and he owns a huge furniture store in Houston and he did a lot of events and stuff for the USO and he suggested I go out on a tour. And then my good friend Jamie Kennedy and I went out on a USO variety type show. He did stand-up and I performed for troops. It was a great experience and I really appreciated the opportunity to perform for troops.

What was your most memorable experience over the years?

The thing that sticks out the most is one time in Afghanistan, there was so much activity in the air terminals and we ended up getting stuck there. Our USO tour manager stayed up all night trying to arrange a way for us to get out, if he hadn’t done that we may have been stuck there for more than just a day. The whole time I was thinking about my family and getting home to them and I knew that this was nothing compared to what the troops must feel. I was only away from my family for a week but these guys are gone for months and a year at a time, I could only imagine how long an extra day might feel to them, if they were trying to get home and something like this happened. It just made me appreciate them even more for all of their hard work and sacrifice.

Hip-hop artist Paul Wall brings members from the 380th Expeditionary Wing on stage during his USO concert on Jan. 18.

How have things changed since your first USO tour?

With the drawdown in Iraq this time I had the chance to visit different areas of the Middle East. We Went to Kuwait, Djibouti and an undisclosed location in the Middle East. I almost experienced kind of a role reversal in Djibouti because many of the troops there had never been to Iraq or Afghanistan and they were asking me questions about what it was like over there. It really just made me realize how versatile our troops are and even though they may not be serving in theater they are still sacrificing time with their family, friends and loved ones and that they care about their fellow troops who are on the frontlines.

If you could say one thing to the men and women serving this country what would it be?

Thank you and I’ll see you when you get back or on my next USO tour!

Wall, whose latest album “Politics as Usual” was released last year, says, “My family is the most important thing to me and being apart from them, for any amount of time, is always hard. I can’t imagine how it must be for our troops. Most of them haven’t seen their family in months, that’s why I make it a point to go on tour with the USO whenever I can. Our troops need to know that we appreciate them.”

See images from his recent tour full of meeting the troops and five performances at USO.org.

Hip Hop Hooray: It’s Part 2 of Naughty by Nature’s USO Tour Video Diary

Treach of the hip-hop group Naughty by Nature performs for and with U.S. Soldiers at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq, Nov. 8, 2009, during the last stop of their USO-sponsored Iraq and Kuwait tour. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steven King/Released)

Enjoy Part 2 of Naughty by Nature‘s video diary of their USO Tour to Djibouti in May of 2010!  Click here to view Part 1…

Check This: Naughty by Nature’s USO Tour Video Diary – Part 1

Check out Part 1 of Naughty by Nature‘s video diary of their USO Tour to Djibouti in May of 2010!

You can also click here to see footage of their concert at Camp Lemonier.

At right, Treach of the hip-hop group Naughty by Nature performs for and with U.S. Soldiers at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq, Nov. 8, 2009, during the last stop of their USO-sponsored Iraq and Kuwait tour. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steven King/Released)

OZONE Magazine Tagged Along with Paul Wall and DJ Smallz on their Latest USO Tour

Ozone Magazine Editor Julia Beverly traveled with Paul Wall and DJ Smallz on their recent tour through Kuwait and Afghanistan.  The trip was nothing short of transformative.  “Writing this piece was a challenge because the trip was such an overwhelmingly new experience,” Julia told the USO.  “I hope I did it justice.”

SOLDIERS OF LOVE
This article appears in the newest issue of OZONE Mag.

Paul Wall and DJ Smallz accepted their mission with pride: boost morale amongst American troops deployed in Afghanistan. OZONE tagged along for an unforgettable ride through the war-weary Middle East.

Paul Wall and DJ Smallz give a radio interview at the AFN station at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. (USO Photo Erick Anderson)

Wait.

Where am I?

Seven days in, the thought finally hits me. This is crazy. How did I end up here? I’m weighted down by military-issue body armor, hovering several thousand feet above ground in decidedly unfriendly skies. Mere inches from my left shoulder, a gaping hole where the door should be (photo at left) allows a bird’s eye view of the dry desert and the scenic mountainside of Afghanistan quickly falling away beneath the chopper.

A handful of us are on board the helicopter, including Houston rapper Paul Wall and Florida representative DJ Smallz, but I appear to be the only one suddenly smitten with panic. A four-pronged seatbelt strapped over my bulletproof vest seems to be the only thing separating me from sudden death-by-gravity, as I cling tightly to my cameras and gear with both hands. And a tall, heavily-armed soldier named John Tuerck, strapped in facing me and intently eyeing the ground through the scope of his assault rifle, appears to be the only thing separating me from mid-air death-by-Taliban.

Click here to read the full article from OZONE Magazine!

Chamillionaire Shares His Experience

Chamillionaire performs at Fort Hood Community StrongGrammy Award winning rapper and singer Chamillionaire was one of many celebrity entertainment performers at Fort Hood on Friday, December 11.  He penned the following article for MTV News:

“I feel so privileged to have received an invitation to perform in Killeen, Texas for the Fort Hood Community Strong event for all the soldiers and their families. It’s not every day that we get a chance to give back to the people who put their lives on the line to defend our country daily. Me and my party of four received a warm greeting from a group of USO soldiers who were waiting to pick us up from the airport when we arrived in Killeen. They took pictures and told us numerous times how appreciative they were that I would be a part of the event. While we were in the van en route to the hotel to drop off our bags, they told us some of their daily duties and Iraq stories. One of the soldiers told us he had to carry 180 pounds of baggage and weapons in what seemed like 150 degree Iraq weather, and he also told us stories about spiders that they saw that chased people and attacked birds. From the moment we met the soldiers they were very open with us and it seemed like they like the loved to share their war stories with tourists…”

Read the entire article at MTV News.

AND be sure to check out Cham’s article at XXLmag.com, too!