Friday, September 23, 2011

Wale: Is he really that good?

ATTENTION ALL READERS: It has been brought to my attention that my earlier posts, as genuine as they may be, are viewed as incoherent and an improper way to conduct myself in a setting where I would like for my posts to be taken seriously.  Initially I was tempted to say "Fuck yall niggas, dis some real shit im taln n yall worried bout my grammar b?", but I now know if I ever want to make it anywhere with my music or my blogging, I have to be able to appeal to all audiences, and that includes those who appreciate well orchestrated and thought out prompts.  I am an English major at Old Dominion University, Professional Writing emphasis, so there is no real reason I shouldn't be writing these posts in a more professional setting.  To summarize, I have to give my readers what they want.  Always willing to improve............cuh...

ANYWAY...lets get into what this post is really about shall we?  Wale.
  Whats next for the rapper straight out of the DMV?  Well Wale has an upcoming album Ambition due to release on November 11, 2011 or better marketed as 11.1.11.  Wale has not been in the game that long, but has already made a name for himself, whether good or bad, in hip hop before the release of his 2nd album.  His 1st album Attention Deficit
received mixed reviews from hip hop fans.  Some fans believe it was one of the better releases of 2009, and that Wale along with other artists like J. Cole, B.O.B., and Drake at the time were the new faces of hip hop.  Other listeners, like myself, were not as thrilled with the project.  Some audiences felt the album was very underwhelming, especially in comparison to his breakout mixtape The Mixtape About Nothing.
MY take on Wale?  I could never get into him.  Although the previously mentioned Mixtape About Nothing was decent, it didn't wow me as much as other fans.  I liked the direction Wale was taking his music though, as it did seem he took his craft seriously, actually approaching it as a CRAFT, instead of as a means to an end.  That's one thing I've always liked about Wale, he does take his music very seriously, and is very creative in what he delivers.  However, Mixtape About Nothing left me waiting to see what was the big deal.  Wale at that point was an XXL Freshman, along with the likes of Mickey Factz, Blu, B.O.B., Cudi, and others.  Many people at the time were telling me Wale was the best out of that bunch.  His mixtape didn't show me anything to agree with them though.  Decent music, nothing special to me.  From the beginning, I always felt Wale's voice just drags on a track, almost as if it doesn't add to anything, which is weird right?  His content isn't necessarily boring, and he does have a fair balance of lyrics and flow, but his voice on a track comes across as very...DULL to me.

  Fast forward to his debut LP, and like his mixtape, it was ok.  Nothing wowed me outside of maybe 3 songs, one being my personal favorite Wale songs Shades, where he addresses the topic of the black communities division of skin tone.
This is a beautiful song imo, and one of the other songs which wowed me was his song Beautiful Bliss.  However, Wale wasn't the one who wowed me, as essentially the "lil nigga from the Ville" J. Cole made that song his own and stole the show.  There was substance on the album, songs like Diary, 90210, but I didn't like the direction he took those songs in, far as his flow and delivery.  90210 had a real story inside it that overshadowed my a nursery-esque flow and beat selection, making the song very sleepy. The LP was very underwhelming, and sales reflected that.  I personally do not care about album sales, but Wale has said in the past that he felt his album was not properly received by the fans and that it probably went over a lot of heads, thus causing less than stellar numbers.  Big words, but are they accurate?

My answer is no.  Wale just isnt as good as he thinks or hopes he is imo.  The Back to the Feature mixtape
was a very impressive tape that he dropped after his LP in hopes to show fans "niggas just be rapping."  Wale had a lot of OK verses that did fit the songs and such, but lets be honest....the mixtape is carried by two things, the legendary 9th Wonder on the beats, and the FEATURES.  On a lot of these songs, debates about who had the best verse have ended with Wale coming in either the middle or near last of the list.  He deserves credit for this tape being received well since it was his vision and his baby so to speak, but Wale didn't impress me or show me anything new.  And on this tape imo, a lot of his lines were reaching for complexity instead of actually being complex.  His flow did variate, but was out-shined a lot, and once again, his voice dragged sooooo much.  Still, held his own in some respects, and the tape was generally received well.

More About Nothing almost won me over though.
While all of Wale's earlier projects got mixed reviews, it seemed as though he finally struck gold with this mixtape.  In my opinion, its because Wale sounds his most natural on this mixtape.

Angry about his LP criticism, his situation with his label, his critics, mixed feelings from fans from his home town, each emotion is displayed on this tape, and delivered with a natural feel to it.
Wale went HAM on this mixtape. Songs like the The Problem, Friends n Strangers (which I love), The Power, The Work, even the light hearted cuts like The Manipulation 2 and The Breeze.  I wasn't ready to put him in my current top 10, but I was more open to hear his music now.  He showed me something here.  Maybe he IS that good.  Maybe the pressure of the album and from the label is what was stifling Wale's ability.  If that was the case, he sure put an end to that in 2011, when he signed a controversial deal with MMG/Universal and Rozay, Teflon Don, The Bawse Ricky Ross.  *Ross grunt* I use the word controversial, because like much of Wale's short career in the industry, he received a lot of mixed feedback from fans.  Some fans felt this was a great move, as Ross being one of the hottest acts in the mainstream would open more doors for Wale and give him access to better producers, more artists, etc.   The other side argued that Wale's music would suffer from this new affiliation.  How can Wale still pass himself off as a lyrical wordsmith on a song like BMF, the hit Ross released in 2010?  Wale quickly silenced his "haters" with a verse many people believe was EPIC on a song he did with Ross and the hungry Meek Mill called Pandemonium.
I didn't believe this deal would hurt Wale's music at all though.  I mean, I wasn't a big fan in the 1st place, so he couldn't go anywhere but up imo.  Besides, I like Rick Ross.  I like his beat selection, his flow, his marketing skills, and his adlibs. #WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP.  And I've always been a fan of Meek Mill, so I liked the move by Wale.  And I was actually anticipating hearing him on Self Made Vol.1.  When it released, I was satisfied with what I heard, but I still felt something was missing.  The change in Wale's content on songs like 600 Benz didn't phase me.

  I mean seriously, this is the same nigga that made Nike Boots, a fun catchy light song, and had a verse on No Hands, a club hit that got niggas all the cheeks.  His song with Ross called That Way was cool,
and for the most part, his verses had small replay value.  But I was never wowed, and as Meek Mill seemed to take the whole Self Made album and rip it apart, More About Nothing started to seem more and more like a fluke to me.

So word comes out about Wale's 2nd studio album entitled Ambition set to release on 11.1.11, with his mixtape for the precursor to the album dropping before hand called ElevenOneEleven Theory.

 I listened to a lot of Wale's music up until this point, and I can honestly say none of his projects have been straight garbage...until this one.  That shit was HORRIBLE.  He maybe, MAYBE only had two songs that were good, and they were both just GOOD (I aint posting those weak shits neither, fuck that).  I am not a Wale hater, but that shit got deleted after a full day of trying to bare through that bullshit.  He sounded better on Self Made, More About Nothing, you name it, he sounded better on that shit than ElevenOneEleven Theory.  Get this nigga the fu.......let me chill.

Now here I am, Wale's album Ambition coming soon in November.  I know this is only his 2nd album, but Wale has a lot on the line here.  He has never lived up to hyped his core fans from the DMV shoved on him.  Actually, the DMV area makes up almost all his fans for real, and that has little to do with his skill, and more so to do with where he is from.  Im from VA, and on campus I hear people quoting, blasting, praising Wale all the time.  Outside of VA, his fan base dwindles.  Its like Wale is one of the best young rappers in hip hop today, but only Wale and his fans in the DMV are in on the secret.  I never got into Wale on a serious level, because I feel he is still trying to find himself in his music.  Who is this nigga?  He has no signature sound.  Many people place the go go tag on him, but those don't sound authentic.  Matter fact, nothing about Wale's music sounds authentic to me besides More About Nothing, which still sounded a bit so so but at least more natural.  I'm not trying to place Wale in a box, I encourage artists to do all types of songs, because naturally as humans, we have different moods in different settings at different times and music should as well.  Wale sounds as if he tries to do too much though, leaving audiences with nothing to back track too like "this is what makes Wale..WALE."  That go go shit aint it, that weirdo poetry shit sounds forced as fuck, and that girl shit....well y'all know how soft that is, and its not even constructed well.  And what can Wale pride himself on?  His lyrics?  They come and go.  His flow?  Can be VERY mediocre at times.  His concepts?  Creative in some spots, reaching in others.  His delivery? Puts a nigga to sleep in most songs.  His imagery?  I will give him that, its ok, but just ok.  Wale, to me, oozes mediocrity.  Almost nothing about his music makes me want to replay anything he releases.

This raises my main question (sorry for the long winded writing).  Is Wale even that good?  Im pretty much sold that More About Nothing was a fluke, that ElevenOneEleven Theory Wale might be an indication as to what he will sound like on Ambition.  If thats so, he can keep that shit.  I hear Wale talking about how complex his schemes are, how the rap fans just dont get his lyrics, how Ambition will be on par with Reasonable Doubt, and all I can do is say "#CAYOASS WALE."  Wale has done nothing to warrant any form of actual hype for his album.  Self Made was a decent showing, but that was a collaborative album where he didn't have the best verse on a majority of songs in some people's eyes.  More About Nothing is in the past, and ElevenOneEleven Theory is sorry as fuck.  I don't think Wale is bad, he's just not as good as he thinks he is.  It surprises me that a nigga like Wale feels the need to be overly cocky.  He's like a mesh of half ass spoken word conscious rambling with go go far fetched lyricism.  I'm just not a big fan.  11.1.11 may prove to be Wale's most important moment in his career.  As of now, Im not sold that people are really checking for him outside of the DMV.  There is a distinct disconnect between Wale's music and some hip hop fans right now, as we just can't connect or buy into Wale.  When people mentioned big releases coming up by the end of the year, I didn't hear Ambition mentioned not one time.  *Shrugs*  Maybe Wale's right and I just don't get his shit.  Maybe he is better than I'm making him seem.  Or maybe, just MAYBE...he's not as good as he thinks he is yo.  He thinks very highly of himself and his music, but his music is showing me nothing to be excited about.  " Aye Sound you checking for that Ambition shit Wale droppin yo?"  "Nah fam, Ima just bump this Dreamchasers, he can keep that."  That's usually how shit goes when people ask me that.

In all fairness though, I WILL give Ambition a listen come the release date.  Nothing has to be GREAT in order to be GOOD.  Good music is still good music imo, so as long as its good and plays well to me, I will fully endorse Wale.  But OK wont cut it, ok is very forgettable and that's what Wale's career has been so far. So much hard work, yet so much forgettable material.  Whurlin.

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