02 April 2015

REVIEW: Wale - The Album About Nothing

Members of the XXL freshmen classes have been consistently hitting home runs album after album. J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Ab-Soul, Nipsey Hussle and others have all dropped amazing projects within the past few months and the list just got longer. The Album About Nothing, was thought to be released in 2013 but we got The Gifted instead. A great album that was received and in competition for album of the year for hip-hop heads but it was nothing more than a teaser. It even had Jerry Seinfeld at the end stating he was ready to work on what he thought The Album About Nothing session. The fourth studio LP that continues the mixtape Seinfeld themed series arrived on the March 31st.

Wale has came a long way since his first studio album Attention Deficit. What was heavily anticipated was generally accepted well by listeners but didn’t look that well on the sales charts. Due to the birth of piracy and lack of interest of any mainstream hip-hop artist who didn’t go by the name of Lil Wayne or Jay Z, it became damn near impossible to release a album and get decent sales. This era placed Wale at a very pivotal point in his early career and got him dropped from Interscope records. Since then he has faced adversity and made a very strong reclaim to power with Maybach Music Group. Wale has worked for every fan and hater he has. Though he does not get the accolades he deserves, this album should boost his stocks in the ranks with J. Cole and Kendrick. 

While conceiving this album, Wale disclosed that he was dealing with depression and using pills to cope with his emotions. From ranting to Complex to being overlooked by Katy Perry’s security and her not knowing who he is, Wale is gunning for his respect. If you are knowledgeable about his sound within the series, The Album About Nothing ushers us back to our seats and reminds us why Wale is in the tier of his peers. 

Along with using clips from the sitcom Seinfeld, Jerry Seinfeld is featured on many of the tracks with comedic stand ups and sit-ins. Jerry’s dramatic monologue’s foreshadow what the actual track is about. “The White Shoes” is a great track that touches specifically on male youth and the importance in the culture of looking fly. Everyone wants to look good especially a young male who wants to impress a young woman that he interested in, but is it worth possibly losing your life to another male(s) that are too lazy to actually work and save to get the shoe(s) on their own? In today’s society, it is. Coming up in DC, girls weren’t checking for a guy without white shoes. And if you were lucky enough to get some fresh white shoes (or any fly shoes for that matter), you have to watch out for the jack boys, in which one kid wasn’t lucky enough to dodge when he was killed for wearing some foamposites, that Wale sold him. In the grand scheme of things, "The White Shoes" is symbolic for the vanity in our culture and how it is literally to die for. 

Now was it worth all that bling or the hurting sustained / at curtain call there’s one of two, they either boo or bouquet / or was it worth all your fam or worth all the fame / exchange your personal relationships for personal gain / I’m telling you balance a bitch cause who on yo back and who got yo back I promise the line is this thin / I’m telling you balance a bitch cause who on yo back and who got yo back sometimes that line don’t exist.” Those were bars from “The Glass Egg” which is discussing being in combat with your world and the tug-of-war battle with the people that are in it. What will you decide when the choice that is right for your career but detrimental to your personal life and maybe against your morals? How would you balance being there for your loved ones but not letting them take advantage of your success? 

The Album About Nothing is exactly what you would hope’d it would be. Wale completely revives the version of himself from the mixtapes that really gained him recognition to be considered as a front runner of the game. The sound of the album is something that his fans can truly appreciate. That soulful and harmonic tone is woven into every track. To match the soul, Folarin’s subject matter is just as potent his peers J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar, who are viewed as the top two in the game right now. Wale is pissed he’s been left out of the discussion of being one of the best and he is right for feeling that way. Wale is one of the few artists that responds to fans and tries to reflect on what they say while at the same time remain an artist and create his own music. To me, this trait is admirable, it lets you know that he cares and is trying to make music for the people. The Album About Nothing will turn heads to Wale even with the release of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, this album will not go un-noticed. You get out what you put in; and what is easily Wale’s best project, this will be his best selling and best received album.

Below is the visual for "The White Shoes." The video actually brings to life what it feels like to feel the pressure of suburban youth and how much looking fresh has an impact on their lives. Enjoy!  

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