World renowned, critically acclaimed, street heralded and Grammy nominated. When you speak about Wale now, you have to mention him as one of the elite. In just six years, the Washington DC native has elevated himself from local sensation to being part of hip-hop’s hierarchy. On the cusp of releasing his third LP, The Gifted, the outspoken wordsmith says he’s shooting for the crown and barring his soul.
“I’m young, but I ain’t no new nigga,” Wale defiantly explains. “I’m seasoned. I’m here. I’ve arrived. What comes with that? My last album Ambitionwas about motivating niggas and making hot records. The Gifted is about what’s going on in my world now.”
Wale’s world—as he tells it--has been a whirlwind since officially making his professional entrance with his debut, the criminally slept on Attention Deficit in November of 2009.
“I’m letting them in. I’m not going to go in like ‘I’ve been suffering,’ I’m telling you ‘honestly, some days I’ve been down a little bit here’s why. Here’s what’s on my heart. I’m gonna let you get a little closer.
Every top artist has to have at least that one autobiographical album,” he adds. “I guess this is me initiating that for myself. I’m not fighting to get on anymore. I’m not fighting to be heard. I’m trying to get you closer to me and have the world understand me more.”
As revealed on his new LP, Wale’s gift of gab has brought him great rewards as well as anxiety.
“There’s a lot of joy and sunshine that comes with ‘the gift,’” he begins to detail. “The money is good, I’m financially stable. But there are curses that come with ‘the gift such as self-consciousness. I take time to really acknowledge that within myself on the album. You’ll hear on this record I have called ‘Simple Man,’ I also kinda rebuke the idea of fame. There are elements of fame that seem evil and it scares the shit outta me. It will make you go crazy a little bit.”
On one of the premier tracks off the LP, “The Curse of the Gifted,” Wale raps “Success is like never ending battle with whosever at the top./ And if that’s you, you are who you are trying to hit./ To top all my last shit, is all that ask of.”
“There’s comes a point in your life when you’re not competing with nobody anymore, you’re just competing with yourself,” the MC explains of the record. “Some of your fans will be like ‘your first s*** was better,’ but you know in your mind, body and soul that what you’ve been putting out is better. That’s part of the curse. That’s sickness. That’s insanity.”
During “Sunshine,” Wale basks in the glory of his skills with preeminent wordplay over an enthralling seventies soul soundscape. For the album’s tracks, Wale went heavy on instrumentation with a coherent emotion evoking, music vibe. He enlisted the likes of Stokely Williams from the legendary R&B group Mint Condition, timeless producer No ID and Wale even handled some of the production himself.
“Stokely, I’ve been working with on a large portion of the album, I actually co-produced ‘Simple Man,’ with him,” he details. “That’s the first time I did that. I’m definitely enjoying getting my hand into making tracks. That’s a natural progression for me. My engineer, No credit, I’m his vessel. He produces, but he’s a engineer first. So at first I was learning how to engineer, then he helped me learn to produce. I feel if I was a Wale fan since ‘07, this is what I would want him to do that to. It’s a treat for my fans.”
In 2007, with a heavy street and internet buzz from the mixtape and Myspace Circuit, Wale signed his first recording contract, with Mark Ronson’s Allido Records. A year later, the pair parlayed their partnership into a joint venture with Interscope records for well over a million dollars. With his career under the guidance of JAY Z’s Roc Nation’s management firm, Wale’s only album on Interscope, Attention Deficit featured the likes o Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Pharrell Williams. While songs “Pretty Girls” and “World Tour” became moderate hits for him, records such as “Mama Told Me” and “Diary,” enraptured his core audience and kept his touring demand at a high.
During a split with Interscope, Wale recharged his career with a guest appearance on Waka Flocka Flame’s monster smash “No Hands” and a pivotal business move, signing on to Rick Ross’ Mayback Music Group. Ross recruited Wale and Meek Mill to be the cornerstone artists of his new imprint venture with the Warner Brother Music Group in early 2011.
“Just having someone like Ross in your corner is a blessing,” Wale says. “We don’t always see eye to eye on everything but I genuinely got a lot of love for that man. He’s real. I feel like I learned a lot form that man. He’s had a effect on me from business. I’m a prodigy of Rick Ross. Not too many people can say that. He’s a guy I call on for advice. These are parts of the gift.”
During the Spring of 2011, MMG solidified themselves as the top crew in rap with the release of the group effort Self Made. Vol. 1. In November of 2011, it was Wale’s time to shine with his second solo LP, a career milestone, Ambition.
“Ambition was definitely gratifying,” he says. “Some people didn’t expect for it to do it well as it did, but we sold 165,000 copies the first week. The stores were wiped out of copies.”
“Slight Work,” “Sabotage” and “That Way” all became blockbuster singles, but no record has a vast of a reach his Grammy nominated single “Lotus Flower Bomb” with superstar singer Miguel. “Lotus” became the most heavily rotated record of 2012 and with The Gifted’s lead cut, “Bad” with Tiara Thomas already at #1 on the Billboard Urban charts, it looks like Wale has another career defining moment upon him.
“I’m enjoying my candor on this, its therapeutic,’ he continues. “There’s some things I wanna talk about on this album but hadn’t been able to go in the studio and write yet. There’s definitely one or two songs on this album that I can’t even listen too, at least not at this point in my life. But I’m documenting through music because I wanna give people more of me.”