Words by Andreas Hale.
I’m going out on a limb here but I think that Wale is frustrated. If his phone call to Complex was any indication, I’ve hit the nail on the head. Right?
But not only is he frustrated with Complex -- who seems to have caught the bad end of his frustrations – Wale is frustrated with the entirety of his career.
And the thing is, I totally understand where he is coming from.
This isn’t an indictment of the Complex Top 50 Albums Of 2013 list, or any of the others that left Wale’s The Gifted off (Rolling Stone and SPIN). Instead, this is about Wale and the perception that he’s been getting the shaft his entire career.
Let’s be honest, lists are the dumbest smartest thing ever. They are completely subjective but people like numbers and rankings so they gravitate towards them and treat it like the gospel. So Wale’s outburst (and threat to knock out an entire office) wasn’t so much about the list as it was everything that has led to this point.
But if it is about the list, then let’s get that out of the way.
Wale’s The Gifted was met with mostly positive reviews from critics. Of course, some felt the album was a tad safe and lacked the sense of humor from his mixtape days. Nevertheless, the bridge project between the Ambition Wale and the Attention Deficit Wale seemed to have yielded some solid ratings from both fans and critics while debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200. It’s safe to say that Wale thought that his album was a shoe in for these year-end lists.
Then the year-end lists came out.
Spin, Rolling Stone and Complex all left him off the list. As a person who values his craft, Wale has a right to be miffed by the omission. But something tells me that it is what made the list in his place that drew the ire from the DMV rapper. Obviously, it wasn’t the pop or alt-rock albums that bothered him. It was his rapping peers who took his place.
Migos’ Young Rich Niggas made both SPIN and Complex’s lists.
I’m just going to leave that there for a moment.
Just my opinion, but Wale > Migos.
There are a few other artists on these lists that I disagree with being placed over Wale but, again, these lists are subjective and are meant to drum up debates. Unfortunately, artists see these lists as an opportunity to gain a few more fans who would have otherwise passed up on their music. And that part is true. I often scour lists for albums I may have overlooked only to double back and make the purchase.
But for Wale, it was a little bit more than that for him. It’s not just a list; it’s the validation that he’s been seeking ever since he inked his deal with Interscope Records back in 2008.
When he dropped Attention Deficit back in 2009, the critical acclaim was there but the album was a travesty commercially (it still hasn’t sold over 200,000 copies). A lot of introspection and substance littered a seemingly schizophrenic album but it was plagued by a lousy choice for a single (the Lada Gaga featured “Chillin”) and didn’t appeal to the masses in the manner that he thought it would.
In Wale’s eyes (this is important), he was penalized for making an album that was full of thoughtful songs that tackled issues ranging from suicide to being color struck while avoiding frivolous concepts. As a result, the album tanked and Wale had to figure out a way to remain relevant so his music could breathe.
Wale’s move to Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group was certainly an eyebrow raiser. Some criticized the move figuring that Wale had sold out. On the surface, Wale was far different in style than Rick Ross but people forget that the same guy who made “Shades” and “Diary” had released club ready anthems such as “”Dig Dug (Shake It)” and “Nike Boots” and was capable of being commercially viable. “No Hands” was the proof that Wale could transition from an internet rapper to being mainstream and hearing his music echo off the walls of nightclubs and seedy strip clubs across the country.
Ambition released in 2011, much to the chagrin to his fans from the mixtape days who felt the rapper was alienating them. It was clearly a step in another direction as the substance gave way to more commercially acceptable songs (read: dumbed down). Less ambitious creatively than his debut, Wale’s sophomore album pushed more copies in its first week (162,000) than Attention Deficit sold in two years. But people still weren’t happy with Wale. Continue to page 2.
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