.
  • Mike Tomlin

    Im from DC, so Ive been hip to Wale since his Paint a Picture/Hate is the New Love days. I think the problem is that Wale could have put not only his entire city, but the entire GoGo culture on the map if he did it right. But he didn't. He went from Dig Dug which is one of the dopest songs of all time IMO, to Chillin. He totally abandoned his sound, and while he still shouts out MoCo, PG and DC on his records (mostly mixtapes) he also abondonded his city.
    Wale could have been something great if he stuck with his DC roots. Instead he chased that MMG money, not a bad personal move but a terrible career move, and his sound that we all loved became extinct. In an age where everyone is a rapper, and 99% of them sound the same, Wale could have gone his own direction instead of following the likes of Rick Ross, Meek Mill. Now, hes lost in a sea of mediocre artists and GoGo bands like Backyard, Junkyard, UCB and others struggle to have their sound heard.
    Dont be mad that your album was left off the top 50 list, when your album sounds just like 51 other artists.

    • Matchz Malone

      He's had a song with a relative GoGo groove on EVERY album he's been on. Pretty Girls was a single & featured Tre, Bait was a bonus track on Ambition and a street single from 11.1.11 Theory, Clappers was a single, he inspired the Roots to groove on Rising Up, he puts on for your city like crazy. And had videos for all of them. You're completely off base here. You could say in addition to recognition one of his main goals has been to put on for DC.

      Also, in terms of Chillin, since that was your first reference. He stated a bunch of times that single wasn't his choice. Also, on top of that the original version didn't have Lady Gaga on it.

      • Mike Tomlin

        But its not enough. Shouting out your city every couple tracks and including heavy drums on a couple songs isnt sticking to your roots.
        The songs you mentioned were his biggest hits. And they were Gogo based. Imagine if he put together entire albums of that type of sound. He could have really infused the DC sound into hip hop and sold even more records than he has.

    • soulonice_

      Yea ion agree with you here. Wale definitely puts on for Dc, PG, MoCo. Dc just dont show him love. He get more love there then he did the beginning of his career but still Dc don't give that man love. He got Trel on MMG, had Shy Glizzy on BOA always got Slutty Boys wit him, Trey his hype man, got Black Cobain on BOA, shoutout #10 on tracks, shoot videos in NW. Ion agree wit you here scrap.

    • Steez.™

      I'm also from the DMV and i agree with @thacarter_2:disqus. Wale does try to pt on for the city with Clappers, Bait, Pretty Girls, Breakdown, etc. But even from the start of his career during Paint a Picture, it took a minute just for Wale to be heard outside the city cuz he didn't have support and he's been struggling for that support since. But I do agree with you when you said his sound has changed. He's definitely not the same artist. Also don't for The Flight with the Northeast Groovers sample

    • xrizzxcoss

      listen to the fafa we we freestyle he can easily bring it back to that thats his roots wales hiphop … he should link with oddisee real life!!!!!!

    • TheCatalyst

      I started at HU in '01 so I was in the DC area for a long while and still have extended family there. I also live in Largo at the time Wale started getting shine. For 1, Wale would continually scream out that he's out in the streets of PG (catch me out in Largo, etc) and DC but if he was, he was a damn ghost. Once he got some shine he disappeared from the city quicker than Jim Zorn so he never got that solid connection. Tabi Bonney got some shine but he stayed local too long. Neither successfully walked the line.
      Secondly, his personality & ego WAY overshadows his talent and alienates anyone who would want to push him further. To an outsider who has dealt with and learned the tendencies of a "native", he comes off as a typical SE DC dude who feels like the world owes him a debt just for existing.
      I do give him credit for touring with UCB and taking them around the country BUT that credit dissolves when you realize he did this AFTER he failed with Attention Deficit. There's also the fact that the go-go sound is a bit dated and will never gain mainstream appeal although Best Kept Secret does a GREAT job of marrying a go-go sound with modern samples and drums in his beats, but that's for another post.

  • newman

    tldr

    • shake

      smh, sad.

  • Realistically

    This would be a solid article if the last line, "But I’m just a critic, who the hell am I?" was left off. It wasn't necessary.

    • Prince Akeem

      yea that sort of undermined the entire article lol. good read though.

      • Guest

        It didn't undermine, it was a reminder of a theme of the article: a critic's words aren't law.

        • Prince Akeem

          fair enough fam. point taken

  • who cares

    I'm really loving the influx of editorials since the site's been revamped. Although I've never been a Wale fan, this was an interesting read despite the constant one line paragraphs.

    • shake

      I think the spacing worked with this editorial. Either way, I'm glad you dig the new write ups. We've still got some more plans ahead.

  • Johnny Blaze

    It really is a shame man, I'm a young dude I'm only 22, but when I first really started getting into hip hop (besides the classics) it was back in 08 and 09 when drake, wale, big sean, cole, cudi, all those dudes were coming out with their first couple mixtapes and generating buzz together and I remember hooping and just playing the shit out of 100 Miles and Running and The Mixtape About Nothing, Daytona 500 that shit is a classic.

    It's really sad to hear that phone call, the debacle at the Wizards game, etc...dude seems so frustrated with the way his career and in turn his life ended up.

    • Alonzo

      I think he just wants the respect he deserves. Since he doesn't calculate everything he does or try to look invisible and he speaks from his heart he gets criticized. Lyrically not a lot of rappers can fuck with Wale, lets be serious. From Paint a Picture to his mixtape Folarin he gives you bars that NOBODY can give you. But he's not trendy and he doesn't base his music off what's poppin at the moment and he doesn't carry himself like a star so he gets disrespected. These days its all about branding and if you can't brand yourself a certain way or if you speak about how u feel too much niggas don't like that

  • Bambi

    what happened to the ratings?

    • shake

      Sadly the current set up was causing the site to slow to crawling speeds at certain times. We're working on developing a better set up. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  • ChristianFGY

    Wale certainly is someone who I've had my hopes up for career-wise that I truly am a fan of. Seeing him come so far since the inception of Nike Boots and W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E., it really sucks to see his current situation now with the release of his last album. After reading this article, it definitely gets you thinking about the path his career has taken. The complete different sounds from each different album is something I noticed when Ambition came out/around the time he signed to Maybach, and tapes like More About Nothing were classic to me. The list situation is a shame, as although I didn't like The Gifted, it definitely deserves a spot on there pointing out all of the other projects that were featured. Only time can tell what happens now. As a fan, I can't help but keep supporting him and keeping a look out as to what he'll be putting out in the future.

  • bad boy Robby

    dope article shake

  • codeboi

    I still say he need to humble himself man. That passion comes off as ego and attitude. I think the guy lost his identity after the first album and still doesn't know who he is. I don't see any evolution at all. I think MMG saved and spoiled him at the same time.

  • AlexFirth91

    I think the problem Wale has is an internal issue. You mentioned 2009 GQ man of the year. Drake capitalized off Degrassi and allowed Lil Wayne straight off Tha Carter III hype train boost his career. Kid Cudi signed with Kanye and did really well even grammy nominated off his first album. Wale started off with Chillin. Fast forward now, Kid Cudi left G.O.O.D. with 2 grammys off Yeezy and still hit #2 on the Billboard with zero promotion. Drake selling out tours and top of the charts, and gets Platinum plaques in a short period of time. If you look at Wale, he did well commercially but like Kid Cudi people don't want to promote realness. Wale tries to keep it 100 with everyone but he allows the internet dictate his emotions. It also doesn't help creditability when he hops on tracks like "Stack on My Belt" but he chose to sign to MMG. The Gifted was good but too boring for replays which counts toward electing something for a top 50 list. Lyrically it was good, but the delivery was mediocre. I just think he should go back to what he was doing in his mixtape days, and be less arrogant because he tends to act as if he's better than everyone else.

  • NenTenDope

    Now Wale, Dont be jelly ....M'Kaay

  • LXRD

    I do feel that Wale has been treated unfairly in the industry and with fans of rap. Mike Tomlin said it was "a terrible career move" for Wale to sign with MMG. I don't see how signing with one of the hottest rap niggas in mainstream, and the best new label (at that time) is a bad idea. Especially after the lack of support he received from Interscope. MMG gave him a second chance and the chance that he deserved, When it comes to fans of rap, you have a whole bunch of people complaining about the state of rap, saying how there is no lyricist any more. Wale comes through, spits dope rhymes over dope ass beats, and kills it. All I hear niggas say is that Wale is so boring or he can't spit when he has proven time and time again that he can. I would be just as mad if i was Wale.

  • marty mcfly

    Sometimes people just dont get an artist or that artist has no real message or reason to even be rapping. Wale has some dope material but people just aint that interested. This can happen to even some of the most talented MCs. One thing that should be asked of an artist is what are you rapping for? Money, fame, you trying to kick some knowledge nigga etc... Like what the fuck are you here for? Now if its a mixed message? Just understand thats gonna be extremely difficult to get across to a nation of people who see things in very two dimensional, black and white ways. Wale needed a firm mission during the first few years of rap. Basically what are you here for and why are you different from everybody else? Most times if there is not a clear understanding of these things before an artist starts taking advantage of their window of opportunity (there 15mins) then even if you make great music and are very talented that still will not promise that people will be interested. After a good three years of you being all over mainstream hip hop and on blogs 7 days a week and all over radio and Tv? If people are still trying to figure you out because you haven't presented them with a clear understanding of what your about then in most cases people start moving on from you. Naturally people are a little bit of several different things BUT its very hard to make music that honestly and artistically covers a bunch of different dimensions of ones personality and skill level and expect people with very short attention spans and who really could care less about anything thats doesn't have to do with sex, drugs, and violence to understand. Hip hop does not cater to a mature audience of adults, its caters to the very young and the very unsure who they are audience so in some respect the music has to reflect that in order to get some kinda true art across. Wale tries to mix ratchet with righteous and even though one might be able to understand that, musically its like mixing oil and water. It just ends up being a big mess instead of something that people need to have.

  • Kidtruth

    First off, this is an excellent article.. I have been looking for this kind of insightful critique of hip hop for a long time...

    I've been listening to Wale for the past three or so years, mainly through his guest appearances, but I own two of his albums and the "Back to the Feature" mixtape. I like anyone who can base a track around a Black Thought line. But, really, I've never felt like he was a consistent rapper who could deliver verses. The fundamentals of hip hop aren't present in his music, at least not consistently. Most of the time I listen to Wale, it's because he's on a track with Skyzoo, who definitely can put together a verse. I think Wale has the potential to be a quality rapper, but for whatever reason, most of the time I hear a Wale verse, I like about 50% of it.

  • disqus_pyrGXaSTDx

    Ain't no pizza, get out.

  • BIG TRIS

    I'm 23 and i've been listening to Wale for years man and it's crazy cuz when 1st listened to homie I was like this dude is mad ill and him and Cole gon be goin neck n neck lyrically in the game(didn't mention Drake cuz he a diff type of artist).I though Attention Deficit was a dope album(Shades, 90210, Beautiful Bliss, Contemplate, Diary) and not to mention his mixtapes(100 Miles & Running, The Mixtape About Nothing, More About Nothing) dude is dope lyrically to me and always has been and dude has also drops sum dope poetry on every project. He doesn't sound the same but no artist does, u have to evolve musically. But lets be honest alot of Complex lists are bullshit anyway.Wale is dope but sum artist jus don't have that star quality but more of a underground feel(Lupe is another artist like so). The industry aint fair and Wale knew that when he got in it so callin companies angry threatening them aint gon make them change their minds. I would advise Wale to jus keep doin the music that makes him and his fans happy and stop worrying about all the other bs cuz it makes him come off as arrogant, cocky and not humble(like Kanye perhaps)

  • Mez D

    This article is awesome, I like the direction the sites going into.
    I was an enormous Wale fan, he was one of the initial freshman that could actually bring hip-hop back a couple years ago. First heard B2TF in 09 I think, got Mixtape About Nothing, 100 Miles & Running and was a fan. He had good beats, awesome wordplay (better than any other mainstream rapper) , subject matter everything. I bought AD when it came out, it sucked that it didn't sell well it was an amazing album. More About Nothing came out, one of his best mixtapes I played that shit soo much at school all day. But No Hands was on there, which then made it to the radio. I was happy that dude got some mainstream notoriety off that it was all cool. In the song The Problem he said "Men lie. Women lie. Numbers won't forsaken, the only album floppin is the album niggas hate so A.D. two, oh the way, let's do this and God willin' niggas gonna triple up them units"
    got and I figured it was all good until Ambition came out. I tried listening but had no interest, and even though he still has bars I can't listen to shit he makes anymore and gave up on him. I just wished he continued on the path he was headed and he could be up there with a Kendrick Lamar.

    And about the album lists, There are always 100 albums better than the one you want in it. If you were really trying to make a list of the BEST albums, they would be all lyrical talented rappers, but there isn't much variety in that. These lists are more their favorite albums for different moods. I used to be kinda a snob when it came to trap/ignorant music, but that shit is just fun as hell. The Migos are the shit when you wanna turn up, so while technically it might not be better than The Gifted (which I haven't listened to), it fills a need someone like Wale can't satisfy.
    Anyway, Hopefully he uses this to make the music he used to I'm sure he's built enough clout. If not, then whatever I've been accepted it.

    • Shank Sinatra

      Old white execs push whats popular on the radio and I blame them plus the dumbass consumers (sometimes to include myself) for forcing you to like what they think will sell. A bunch of ignorant hype shit that says not a damn thing but money, hoes, cocaine, pills, strip club, money, ass, pussy, weed, weed, weed, but has an infectious beat. Wale is for the most part, a very intellectual rapper, but he def needs a hold on that temper lol @ the Raptors game. He's right though..I don't mean to sound like a hater, get your money I guess, but Migos could stop making what they call music today and I wouldn't know or care. Juicy J has been making the same music for years and while its more of the same ignorance, I can respect him staying in his lane. Nikki Minaj is doing this weird Barbie bad bitch shit, but Trina has been doing that same style for years and she tried to come back recently and ppl look at her like she's wack. Support Good Music. I fucks wit 2DopeBoyz in a cadillaaac (weeee-oooooo)

      • David Bennett

        Unfortunately, the record execs demand money, hoes and clothes because if you put out an album like Attention Deficit - you flop. The best thing Wale can do now is use the popularity he has obtained over the past 7 years and just go independent. Albums don't get pushed anymore anyway. I'd rather sell less, get a bigger piece of the smaller pie and put out the music I want to put out. I think Wale has given away enough music in his career, his loyal fans would purchase a Seinfeld themed album if it was anything like the other two.

        • Mez D

          Yeah and I'd be really happy if he went that route and maybe he would get the recognition he's looking for.
          And dumbass consumers are about 100% to blame. Radio execs push what'll make the most, and unfortunately a majority of the culture only cares about the ignant shit. And I was saying ignant/trap music can have all small place in hip-hop, it just sucks that its becoming the definition in the mainstream.

        • Shank Sinatra

          Chu right, ese. I totally agree

  • LESnyc

    I don't have a problem with the man. I've got his albums. I play them every once and a while. His real problem is that he feels like he's on the same level as the coles and kendricks of the world in terms of this new generation and that he deserves to be treated as such. issue is, he's not close to that. he's got no lane, and if he does, he's got no heart to stay in it. he's on a song with meek? he tries to do meek. juicy? he's clapping trying to get trippy. there's no denying he's got brains, but just being smart doesn't automatically equate to being one of the best out just like the fact that being ignorant doesn't mean you can't put together a nice song or two.

  • james

    Time will attest to the quality of Ambition as an album.

  • Kyle

    I was a big fan of Wale in his early mixtape days, but lately the interest I once had in him has faded. I think part of the reason of that is that I do not think his recent stuff has that much replay value for me. Also, I went to go see a concert of his about a year ago. After showing up an hour later than he was supposed to, he preformed a very mediocre set. And while preforming he seemed very uninterested and even bored at times. I left the concert disappointed as Wale used to be one of my favorite up and comers. I hope that Wale gets back to his roots and his early mixtape sound. Also, I do not think it would hurt him to be a LITTLE bit more humble. It seems almost as if he thinks he "deserves" the star treatment that some artists a la drake and cole receive. As a fan, I hope that he can turn things around for himself and for me the lsitener.

  • DIesel

    I dig these editorials even though I tend to heavily disagree with them.

    "Wale has a right to be frustrated" but why? Because he only makes 100x more money than us while Kanye makes 1000x more? This ain't about ye but at the same time, when he expresses his frustration he gets almost universal hate. But Wale is mad and he has a right to be, where is the logic?

    I think it's pretty obvious why Juicy J and Migos would make a list while Wale wouldn't. I can't name 1 song Wale put out this year.

  • Chosen One

    Wale's career is comparable to an NBA player picked top 5 in the draft straight out of high school based on potential. Had a good first season but didn't quite live up to the high expectations so he gets passed up for rookie of the year. After a few years he becomes a free agent with his rookie deal expiring. Tired of playing in a small market and frustrated by diminished playing time, he signs with a team in a larger market who promises him a starting position.

    The next year during the first quarter of the season he leads the league in scoring (though on 42% shooting) and manages to make the all star team as a starter. His team is eventually bounced in the second round of the playoffs. The following years-

    Ok sorry to anyone who was actually reading this because this analogy is taking longer to write out than I thought it would and I don't have time for this shit, haha,

    • Paddington

      Comparisons or metaphors should make things more clear, not less. You took a clear and concise piece of writing and decided an overwrought metaphor was necessary. It wasn't.

      • Chosen One

        Chill broham, are any of the comments on here "necessary?." Apparently you felt it was necessary to reply to this one.

        • Paddington

          Because a relatively good piece of writing should be respected and not fouled up with labored comparisons. Like, really? Who do you think was confused by the post and you made it clear?

          • Chosen One

            You can fuck off with the condescension, Who said the article was unclear? It's dope, I didn't even know they did editorials on here. You seem to be confused as if I was trying to show-up Shake. Though even if I was, quit with the nut gobblin' as if this blog post is some sacred piece of literature.

            Wale is a huge NBA fan so I thought the analogy would be amusing, then realized how convoluted it was becoming so I dropped it.

          • Paddington

            So... you did this for Wale but I'm "nut gobblin'"? Which, what does that even mean? Being critical of you means I put metaphorical nuts in my mouth? See, you don't quite get how this works. I shouldn't be questioning what your immature insults mean. You are suppose to write for clarity. Clarity, young man. Is gobbling nuts worse than or equal to gobbling a dick? What's the Kurupt scale of male sex organs intake?

          • Chosen One

            Damn, you can't even string together a coherent thought now, just admit you took this L. Either that or feel free to continue this conversation solo with more of your "necessary" comments.

          • Mez D

            Ha he just trolled the fuck out of you

          • Chosen One

            Trolled? What is that supposed to mean?

  • Dorian

    Firstly I want to say that this is a great article, but I think you're generalizing and simplifying way too much. Wale's Ambition had a sound quite similar to his first album, apart from a minority of tracks. I completly disagree with that his MMG sign changed his music. The songs he did on Self Made - yeah maybe that sounded a little different. But listen to the first 5 tracks on Ambition - they might as well have been sitting on Attention Deficit. Even the title track with Meek & Ross, lyrically it's not that different from his old stuff. I think we're way too quick to judge a song by it's beat in hip hop. Wale has stated before that he sees himself as a rapper without boundries who want's to try new things and not be labled with something like "concious", "ratchet" etc. In my eyes he's a creative artist who likes to experiment, and that which in my opinion is his biggest strength, might also be his biggest weakness. Simply because most fans want continuity. Think about it, what do you do more often - search for music that sounds like the stuff you already like or tracks that sound completly different?

    My interest for Wale has cooled over the years and I though The Gifted was whack as a whole even though there were some good tracks on it. I don't know what it is but he isn't making tracks that resonate with me like he used to. I feel bad for dude though, I don't think he's gotten the chance he deserves.

  • Terry.

    FIRST. wale you turned into a "fat" lazy dude. look at you, you fucking 29 years old, and tasted you rap career yourself by your own. listen to your first tracks and then this new ones specially since mmg. your last chance? lotus flower bomb,and give thanks to miguel and the beat..

    "I'll come to that office and start knocking n****s the fuck out."''¿¿

    c'mon wale, don't be so sensitive, i mean.so drake. like i would punch this tattooist in the face!! lmao. niggas so sensitive...

    be happy stop beign a looser and youll become a winner. we want to see you as a winner.

    possible responses from wale to my comment¿¿
    FUCK YOU I'M MOTHERFUCKING WALE YOU CAN SAY SHIT. I'LL BURN YOUR HOSE AND YOUR MAMA.

    that's the problem wale,you never listen... and your boss never went platnium....

    and the JUICY J jab?? after bounce it? stop bitching.......you trippin juicy's better than yours...and no milshakes just the album.

  • Jay Daniels

    Wale has no right to be upset about nothing. The dude is ON. People still tryna get ON who are better rappers than this dude. Appreciate what u got and work harder cause we all know Wale ain't poppin' like that.

  • fonzo517

    instead of getting pissed why don't you just make more music

  • Dash Jones

    I'm a HUGE Wale fan and have always felt like he never gets the credit he deserves. The guy is a lyrical mastermind and he performs with so much passion. You listen to him and you feel what he's saying. Mainstream people never can appreciate an artist like Wale the way true thoroughbred fans of hip hop will. J.Cole is an equivalent rapper to me but he has found a bit more success b/c his lines are a bit more fathomable to the masses. Wale is so gifted that many of his lines will go over your head if you're not familiar with his subjects. I always admired that about him though. Whenever I got on rap genius to figure out what he was talking about I learned something and was reminded of how dope Wale really is.

  • Johnson

    Album should have been on the list. Plain and simple. Can't deny it was a very solid album.. Wale's easily top 5 out of the "newer" generation of rappers.. lyrically, he's one of the best.. There are still some of his old rhymes I would hear now and be like, "ohh snap, that's what he meant." There are two type of people when it comes to wale, you either like him or you don't.

  • suge white

    he makes garbage rap that is just another radio rapper, he started out only people that listened to him out side of dc area were hip hop hipsters white kids under 20 now he makes hella generic music , talks different dresses different etc,, he did what every rapper thats popular on the radio just about does sold out and got a stylist and has managers telling him do this do that... he could be making interesting music but every thing hes made in the last couple years is completely forgettable

  • hong

    hows wale better than migos when you listen to migos all day at home huh? better lyrics doesnt mean THAT much cuz i aint gonna to a thesis on no hiphop shit differentppl got different taste from a man to another you have to respect that

    • biff tannen

      Smh

      Sad times.

      #readingisfundamental

  • Jojoba

    Also my comment would be great or at least interesting artists stand for something? Kanye stands for pushing hip hop forward and now stands for this art new art shit. When Wayne went on his mixtape run he was the first person really brining that kind of mixtape street culture to the internet, but what does Wale really stand for? I'm not really sure? He's an okay MC but there's plenty other okay MCs i can go back to. In my opinion thats kind of why he's he's boring.

  • WNDRKND

    Really enjoyed this. Great points were made.

  • Grant Hargett

    Wale is such an enigma to me... I really liked his mixtapes. I'm from the midwest and was puttin' hella people on him... Like, "Yo, you heard of Wale??? Dude is nice!" I was super geeked about his first album... When I heard it, I thought it was a good first effort but, nothing had me coming back to it. The other 2 albums, aren't bad, they just don't have much replay value (for me).

    I don't get him or exactly why I don't like him that much. I know I hate when he does poetry... Shit sounds like he's trying to hard to "sound" like a poet, instead of it being organic. He is nasty lyrically but, he doesn't have that sound that take his bars to that next level. His songs are thoughtful and socially conscious but, there is something off about his persona or swag. Much like his poet sound, just doesn't seem organic to me... Like he got that Outlet Mall Swag or that Gently Used Shit hahaha... Maybe thats why i'm not that into him... Jus something missing.

    Last thing... I can't understand how he is not rapping over mind blowingly cold beats! No reason why he should be flowing over them Rick Ross run of the mill trap beats or generic boom bap shit... Everything should be crazy!

  • Carlos Gallon

    It could be that the executives saw him making a move to be a face of hip-hop and a popular rapper but he didn't really stick like Kanye or T.I. so they abandoned him and move on to other potential like 2 Chains.

    Either way, he won't get any pity from me. I do believe he sacrificed his craft and creativity for album sales and it didn't even work. It feels a little like divine justice. What could have been

  • Edreece

    You all need to check out 17-year-old artist Robbie Leone's debut tape: https://soundcloud.com/robbieleone/sets/l-e-o-n-e