Wale's debut album merges a unique voice and catchy sound
D.C. rapper Wale has been dominating the local underground rap scene for years, and now he has shot into mainstream music as a success. When his single, "Chillin," was released on June 2, the nation was surprised by this relatively unknown rapper and his collaboration with pop diva Lady Gaga.The single received international acclaim by climbing to number 99 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and the 12th spot on the UK Singles Chart. After "Chillin" stormed the radio chart, anticipation for Wale's first album was at an all-time high. Yet with all this pressure, Wale still manages to impress like it is a "chillin" breeze.
In "Attention Deficit," Wale strays away from typical rap albums. While rappers like 50 Cent and Lil Wayne spit lines about the luxuries in life, such as women in the club, popped champagne and stacks of paper, Wale stays true to his roots and expresses his views on D.C. social problems and racial issues.
The track "Shades" discusses his struggle being black in a white-dominated society. "Shades" hides its deep message in a background of techno and bass-pumping percussion with electronic beats that bring to mind an edgy Owl City. When Wale says, "From a light skin girl to a dark skin brotha' / Shade doesn't matter, heart makes the lover," he tells people struggling with racism that their inner selves are what defines them. Wale's lyrics are honest and real and the rapper speaks from the soul.
Although Wale delves into insightful commentary about the human race in his collection of songs, he also goes back to typical rap topics when he expresses his simple desires. But unlike other artists, Wale finds deep meaning in even the most carnal subjects. Upon a first listen to Wale's masterpiece "Pretty Girls," many may think that Wale is superficial, but this is not the case. Seldom does he mention in the song that pretty girls are pretty because of their looks. In fact, the song leaves the listener questioning preconceived notions of what a pretty girl truly is.
The genius of Wale is his ability to incorporate dance-themed beats into such deep music. This lets him appeal to the two different types of listeners: those who enjoy meaningful music and those who prefer a strong, dance-floor rhythm. His second single "World Tour" is a credit to his hubris. He completely insults rappers who sell their creativity and self for money. The lyrics "It's hard to have American pride when most of your money's made out of them lyings," explains his pride in knowing that even though he has national fame, he still keeps true to his Maryland roots.
The medley of beats and techno riffs would put any rapper at the risk of an auto tune deficiency. But Wale is paying attention to what rap is all about - truly expressing opinions and views with a tantalizing beat.
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