It’s super rare that a rapper excels at meticulous wordplay, effortless flow, and creative yet crucially important content. But since his 2009 Attention Deficit album release, Wale has truly been one of the consistently skillful rap artists of modern time. A hefty discography of classics on full display, it would be erroneous for any reasonably sound mind and ear to write off such a talent. Dismally known in his latter years for social media gloom due to industry setbacks. Once compared to the likes of Kendrick and Cole, he almost certainly takes a second tier rapper misplacement.
“I’m far from a popular artist but still the hardest no less … ”
Entering the industry under the Interscope records umbrella, the rapper debuted on records alongside music’s biggest acts with commercially successful songs “Chillin” feat. Lady Gaga, and Go-Go’s reintroduction to mainstream “Pretty Girls” feat. Gucci Mane. Seemingly unstoppable, Wale became one of Roc Nations early management signees aligning him with rising stars J. Cole and Rihanna. Filled with lyrically supreme jams from D.C’s newest appointee, Attention Deficit by industry standards flopped landing him his first major label drop.
On the minds of many, Wale continued to flourish during a blossoming mixtape era releasing the poetically infused cult classic More About Nothing. He soon became a prominent fixture delivering hearty odes to the average joes relationship woes via records like “The Breakup Song”. Perfectly bridging the gap between fashionable scholars and the streets. Early on discussions of his distaste with industry politics dubbed him the likable renegade. Soon landing the conscious romantic backpacker in a new home on Maybach Music Group.
In a move that left fans uncertain; Wale’s MMG affiliation elevated his hunger and numbers alongside heavy campaigning with label mates Meek Mill and Rick Ross. Dominating the charts, Ambition and The Gifted delivered fan pleasing and commercially successful records: “Lotus Flower Bomb”, “Bad”, “LoveHate Thing”, “Clappers”, “The Way”, & “Slight Work”. While 2015’s critically acclaimed classic The Album About Nothing merged old and new fans of his previous Seinfeld inspired mixtapes. Securing his position in rap, he successfully unified fashionably poetic raps for the ordinary jane and joe; organically producing hits like: “The Need to Know”, “The Girls on Drugs”, “The Matrimony” and “The Body”.
“Awkward, lefty, introvert, it’s hard to get near me / That’s why I’m in interviews high because I be highly defensive”
Once known as the likable renegade, Wale’s on and offline persona began to amplify negative opinions of the admitted emotional rapper. Feuds with media claiming bias, fellow label mates, celebrities, and any and every bystander were affected. He soon became known as a nuisance for publicly speaking his truth. Prompting a rap intervention on “False Prophets” from long time friend J. Cole, Wale quickly responded with his playful yet lyrically fierce jab on “GroundHog Day”, casually confessing bouts with depression fueling his pen and drug/alcohol intake. Like a domino effect, 2017’s Shine sonically performed well (“Running Back”, “My Love” and “Fashion Week” were amazing), but missed the mark on sales provoking another major label drop.
Feelings of hip hops underdog now synonymous with his numbers, Wale has taken 2018 by storm dropping 3 EPs in the course of six months. Completely shutting down any talks of losing a step; It’s Complicated, Self Promotion, & Free Lunch have embodied social media’s demand of the “Old Wale”. Anything but lazy with his lyrical banter or his reliably favorite imaginative composition to women. “It’s Complicated”, “Black Bonnie”,“3 days 3 Hours”,“Effortless”, and “Right Here” are all vintage Folarin. While “Negotiations”, “Salary Kaep”, and “Cassius” provide socially conscious content he’s always made visible. Also making sure to offer uptempo jams “My Boy” feat. J. Cole and “Ungrateful & Thankful”.
“A combination of mental issues, liquor, and ganja / with a gift with these lyrics you hear Mr. Folarin”
Despite his public frustrations with major labels, media, and suspected issues of colorism tampering his success through the years. Wale deserves our appreciation for delivering exceptionally remarkable music since day 1. With his recently revealed new label Warner Bros (the Atlantic Records parent company); the rapper now hopes to put concerns of being understaffed and underrated to rest as he contemplates the idea of retirement. Wale may never get the look his music merits. But we hope he continues to appreciate the fans who continue to champion him for always being himself.