At his best, Wale makes rap look easy, with his cool baritone, effortless flow and gold-river voice box. But when he’s not firing on all cylinders he can sound morose and redundant, even a little unsure of himself. It’s a level of inconsistency that’s plagued him in the past, making The Gifted that much more important moving forward. It’s a swing album that could potentially buy him another five years or condemn him to rap purgatory. Since Wale is as real as it comes, it was a no-brainer for him to illustrate those concerns into an exhaustive epic. So go five lyrics from his own personal odyssey that he’s created here that capture his struggles as a mortal lyricist.
There isn’t a whole lot to dissect with a title like “Vanity,” but don’t let that throw you off. It’s the target of his malice that makes this intriguing. Wale is seeking retribution, but before he can raise arms he has to drive a wedge in between him and his oppressors, which in this case is the mainstream. The twist is that Wale seems to have relished in it, and to deny it would be to deny his own path to stardom: [LISTEN]
Niggas dying over process
Bitches dying for attention
Niggas drop it just to plop em
Is it really that important, is it really that serious?
It’s a compelling story when an artist of Wale’s ilk comes up out of impoverished circumstances to achieve the American dream. It’s even more interesting when said individual finds out that the American dream is a farce. Most would lose their mind, but it seems to make Wale stronger. The contradictions he sees only reinforces the opinions he had before he made it big, specifically how gullible people can be when it comes to rumors and hearsay. He’s not afraid to put that type of ignorance on blast: [LISTEN]
What if they tell you this music was bogus
The government run it, they controllin’ the culture
Would you believe that if you read that?
What if they tell you the iPhone was tapped
As soon as a runner hears the pop of the starter gun, it’s a sprint to the finish. That’s how most rappers look at it when they sign their first big contract. Who can indulge the most before the other starts stealing headlines. It’s a fleeting competition that inevitably leads to a quick turnover, and Wale sees that as clear as day. He’s hitting a crossroads in his career, but claims he’s just getting started. Hopefully he can see that it’s marathon not a sprint: [LISTEN]
Although I hit my stride, ain’t even in my prime
Singles in the chart, make a broad lose top
These days, you ain’t gotta do nothing to pop these days
Instagram runnin’ they thought these days
So your a guy from DC barely getting by. After a few singles you sign a major deal with Interscope, and your life changes forever. You get whisked away to a world you can hardly imagine, and before you know it you’re kickin’ it with Rihanna flipping the bird at every camera within 20 yards. It’s a fairy tale that Wale is not shy about sharing. He’s putting the pop life on blast for most of the album, but he can’t help but steal a sip or two from the devil’s cup, especially when the cup is next to a butt-naked Rihanna: [LISTEN]
She hurt feelings, she ain’t wrong
She work hard, she play harder
Got a smart mouth, like a speed fly
She don’t catch feelings, she too busy catching G5
This one can be listened to in tandem with the “Bad (Remix).” Its a little bit more telling of Wale’s state of mind. He’s illustrating what he thinks is the perfect woman, and his delivery comes across as genuine and heartfelt. It’s a place where Wale can find his niche, and perhaps extend his shelf life for at least a few more years. An artist needs to grow in order to stay relevant, and this is his way of moving forward: [LISTEN]
Fame has made me more foolish
What would you do with all these lusty groupies?
And I know that God has only made me human
But I’d like to take the time to describe to y’all my favorite woman