08 May 2009

Lately, I ranted about Blu and Kid Cudi and what dope rappers I thought they were. In both of those posts, I tried to reiterate that I thought both of these dudes were up there with Wale in the upper-echelon of the new rappers. But I hadn't ranted about Wale, so here it goes. This morning, Wale was on ESPN's First Take to talk hockey so that really made this post all the more necessary. Last summer, Wale dropped "The Mixtape About Nothing", which in addition to being one of my favorite albums of the year, it was this whole Seinfeld-inspired joint. It wasn't like entire songs about the Soup Nazi or dripping a gyro all over a valuable issue of TV Guide, but rather it was more like in the same vein as a Seinfeld episode. As Wale says on the intro, "If you love substance then you love Wale, but most ninjas don't love nothing so I made this tape." (Writer's Note: He doesn't say ninja, but I am not ballsy enough to quote verbatim which is at least slightly ironic since I used to be a literature major and I feel like if someone else said and you're just quoting it then it is completely justified but after listening to "The Kramer" I feel like Wale makes a good point that a white boy really shouldn't say it even if he just heard his favorite rapper say it.) Just like a Seinfeld episode, all of the tracks start with the word "The". I could probably go on for miles about why I think this concept is "clever" and why I think that Wale is "meaningful" and "important for fostering in a new wave of hip hop", but thats not really my intent with this rant. Because technically I am from the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia STAND UP) and so is he. D.C. has never had a hip hop star. Go-go is all the rage in that area, and I like it well enough but at times I end up taking the same stance as Stringer Bell in that one episode when he was talking to them cats from D.C. But I digress. Back in the fall when I was still actually getting my name in print, I had to write an article on the Washington Wizards head coaching vacancy and through sheer stubbornness and general not-giving-a-fuck I rammed Wale's name into my lead. It was back in December before the Inauguration, and I was trying to circle a similarity in the sense that there was a new dude taking over Washington and that in fact there would be a new dude to "put on" for the capital in the hip hop game as well. It didn't work as well as I had hoped, but fuck it everyone who read it at least for a second had to think about who Wale was. Again, I digress. When this mixtape came out over the summer it was around the same time as the bonanza that was Tha Carter III and despite that I ended up liking this shit more. In hip hop, much is made about swagger and who has the most swagger and who applies their swagger the best in marketing their personal brand and yada yada yada. But with Wale its not like his swagger is in short supply or anything like that. Dude definitely has a spring in his step, but at the same time in some songs he is basically making the argument that he is only the 4th best rapper in the game behind Jay-Z, Wayne, and Kanye. Its like I shine and what not, but I don't shine as bright as these cats. Also, not only does Wale make sport references in his song. Clearly, dude watches Sportscenter on the regular. But even better then that, he makes hockey references. "Putting on for the Capital, Wale Ovechkin." Comparing himself to Ovechkin, at least in ma opinion, is like totally fucking smart. I mean, Ovechkin is easily the best player in all of hockey and if you don't watch hockey then basically Ovie is like the LeBron James of the NHL. Yeah, he's that good. And so while all the other rappers are talking about how they be so like LeBron and while Wayne compares himself to Kobe, Wale skates by all that. But not only that, Wale has rhymed and made allusions to Ki-Jana Carter, the former #1 pick of the Cincinnati Bengals who flamed out after one preseason game, and Cleo Lemon, a much-maligned journeyman quarterback who had basically no success with Miami and then was shipped to San Diego where he may as well just sit in the stands because he's definitely not getting on the field. He's name-checked Ussain Bolt and Eric Lindross. Basically, this dude is totally dope and rad, yada yada yada. On "The Artistic Intergrity" he kind of hits all this on the head. He's not a backpack rapper although he makes you think and he's not all bling bling M.O.B. either. He's just clever, and I feel that term gets overused slightly these days but its really the case. Example: "Y'all dudes rapping like you reading The Source/ Wale rap like he read a thesaurus" So, he's not backpack or gangster and he's still not hipster rap either. The other day, there was an interview and he was like "I'm not hipster rap, but I was the first dude to rap over a Justice beat." When this tape came out Tom Breihan of Status Ain't Hood, a fantastic now defunct blog that used to be on the Village Voice website, pointed out that Wale complains about something but in the same breath brags about he did basically the same thing. I guess thats a knock, but I think it is kind of beside the point. I mean, he complains about how Baltimore stations don't play his records but at the same time he points out that his cousin was Chris on The Wire. I guess thats aggravating to some, but to me it seems to say that dude is not getting played on the radio and his cousin was on the greatest fucking televsion show in history which would make him additionally awesome. Anyway, I think the album is coming out this summer and I'm hoping it'll be real dope. He's got a new single and it has Lady Gaga on it, and you know its cool. I've read that Dave Sitek from TV on the Radio has done some producer work on the album which basically means that it should be real good, at least in theory. So yeah, the moral of the story Wale is like my most favorite rapper. There's a part of me that feels like Cudi may be more successful commercially and may very well completely blow up, but despite that Wale be my shit. If Cudi blows up then thats fine cause I think they're cool with one another and that means they'd still be on one another's records. And I really dig Blu, but I end up listening to Wale more. Just the way it is. And besides, its still hockey season and we both root for the same team.





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