It turns out there is merit behind the billion-dollar hype machine that’s been propelling Wale since he surfaced on the face of URB two years ago. Dude is a substantive and innovative artist — and that’s coming from a critic who was nary impressed by his lazy mixtape work.
Whether waxing autobiographical or lamenting bulimic-cokehead beauties, the DC MC recalls days when radio rap entertained. Although never over-produced, his backdrops are more than just beats. The Cool-and-Dre-ripped “World Tour” manages to blend background singers, Jazmine Sullivan, and a hype man without confusion. Most important is that Wale brings messages.
He’s not all that progressive or enlightened — “big-breast girls never ever pay rent” is hardly the new black power — but nearly all of his “Rosanne bars” are bloated with inspired wit. And there’s a serious side, too: “Shades” featuring the gloriously piped Chrisette Michele is one of the most mature musings on racial identity ever committed to a drumbeat. It’s now clear that though the District of Columbia might not have representation in the US Senate, residents do have a distinguished rep in hip-hop. And if Barack Obama is an indication, that sort of endorsement goes a long way these days.