Wale is one of hip-hop’s more enigmatic newcomers. His signing to Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group angered some purists of his mixtape fare, while others applauded his jump into radio-friendly songs. Wale previewed his forthcoming The Gifted album (June 25th release) earlier this month at the swanky Bryant Park Hotel in NYC for an audience that included Rick Ross as well as Meek Mill, Stalley and DJ Khaled, While the rapper excitedly explained the method behind his third album, between sips of D’USSE, we came up with a few random thoughts of our own. --Sowmya Krishnamurthy
1. Who is Wale? Backpacker? Goon? Ladies’ man? All of the above?
2. Wale says the phrase “New Black Soul” throughout the album and his beat selection seems to reflect this mindset. We can dig it.
3. MMG must be a nice place to work. When asked about his former label Interscope, the rapper responded with the obvious diss, “Who?” Take that Jimmy Iovine!
4. Cyber bullying isn’t relegated to teenage girls. The track “Gullible” featuring the splendid vocals of CeeLo stems from an incident in which haters were being mean to Wale online.
5. Rick Ross sure likes to get his dancing on, even while sitting down. The Bawse was flailing his arms and throwing up the “Rock ‘n’ Roll” sign all night.
6. Victor Cruz and Wale are besties. The NFL star explained to us later that he met Wale at a random party and they hung out for two hours. Now they’re friends.
7. Wale defines himself as the “Weirdo of MMG” and says he often records like a hermit, going days on end without showering.
8. “Clappers” featuring Nicki Minaj and Juicy J is inspired by Wale’s love of D.C. go-go music and is a fun, bounce-ready number. Think “Bandz A Make Her Dance” meets go-go.
9. During “Clappers,” Wale and his hype man (?) started dancing in a corner. He really likes that song.
10. “Golden Salvation (Jesus Piece)” has Wale rapping from the perspective of the popular chain charm rappers wear. The first-person account was inspired by Nas’ classic “I Gave You Power.”
11. Wale produced his first beat ever on The Gifted. Several times he made it known that he wants to produce beats for other artists. Send your budget.
12. Wale did not play “Black Heroes”/”Outro About Nothing” featuring Jerry Seinfeld. Grrr!
13. Wale says he got Rihanna in the studio for ‘Bad” (Remix) through “bribery.” No word on how you bribe Rih Rih. Apparently she, Wale and French Montana were at a nightclub and she decided on the spot to record the song.
14. Wale really cares about his position on MTV’s Hottest MCs List. He REALLY cares. Even when he made the list, he felt he wasn’t high enough.
15. The album was intended to be laid out as a book or movie, in which there is continuity between songs. The cover artwork of Wale as a statue was explained as a message to his haters or those who “vandalize” him. We don’t know. He explained it better.