I'll level with y'all: The only things I've heard from Washington D.C. rapper Wale are hisSeinfeld
-themed mixtapes, 2008'sThe Mixtape About Nothing
and last year'sMore About Nothing
. The rest of his non-sitcom library has just flown past me, I guess -- even his debut album,Attention Deficit
The good news is that Wale's second album, Ambition (out today), gives me a chance to catch up with him and figure out his M.O. -- beyond him simply being a Seinfeld fan, I mean.
And I'm liking what I'm hearing.
His new single, "Focused," marks an end to a feud between Wale and Kid Cudi -- something else that flew past my radar. Cudi delivers the hook in his distinct nasal voice. Cudder's singing may be lacking, but it still beats Drake's gravelly, Siamese-cat monotone any day.
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Anyway, what the song tells me is that Wale's selling point is his balance between wordplay and pacing. Here we see his wit thanks to raunchy lines ("show me a peace sign/not with your hand, girl"), boastful claims against other rappers ("I'm killing these blackheads/my rap is Noxzema"), and one line that namechecks the Packers while playing with words at the same time ("Smoking Green Bay nigga, I'm a cheesehead/in a Lambo, see me where the G's at").
Someone give this guy a foam cheese head, already!
Sure, Wale's thematic variety sounds like the opposite of focused. But branching out has become a good hustle for anyone who can do it well.
In that sense, Wale seems focused on honing his craft and letting the theme find itself. He raps about nothing -- not that there's anything wrong with that. I kind of like it, actually.