Wale is Hip-Hop’s new guy–well, one of them at least. And he’s one of the more celebrated ones that insiders are excited about. In our Rap Draft, I listed him as the third pick and wrote this:
Wale is this rap class’ Lupe Fiasco—an acclaimed lyricist whose critical appeal will far outpace his commercial success. The Washington, DC-bred emcee is his city’s best rap prospect ever, which isn’t saying much because the nation’s capitol has churned out as many rap successes as Albuquerque. Wale’s go-go infused hip-hop sound, link to international cool guy/ DJ Mark Ronson and appeal to tight pant enthusiasts means the Mixtape About Nothing emcee will enjoy a loyal fan base for years to come.
The time has come. Wale is done with his debut album Attention Deficit and is now prepping for its release on Interscope next month. The prospect’s first single, “Chillin'” featuring Lady Gaga, is currently sitting pretty on the countdown of 106 and Park so, Wale is off to a pretty strong start. Next stop debut album.
TUD: With your mixtapes– 100 miles & Runnin’, A Mixtape About Nothing and even with your new joint Back to the Future— they all have different concepts. With mixtapes, artists typically have a little more liberty to experiment than they do with their albums. What’s the direction you are going with this album?
Sonically, it’s cleaner than lot of my other work. It doesn’t really have a sound because that’s the underlying thing with Attention Deficit. It’s kind of like everywhere. What ties it in is the fact that its reality. It’s real life, and tomorrow will never be like today even if you go to the same place with the same people. Essentially, it’s one of those things I’m just trying connect with the people and music they can relate to and enjoy. It’s an honest perspective- it’s not forced and it’s not trying. It’s okay to be imperfect and I embrace the things I’m not perfect about. I might spaz out on Twitter. I’m not above that. I may holla at a girl whose not interested. You know what I mean?
What’s going to be the appeal of Wale outside of the D.C., Maryland, Virginia (D.M.V). area, your home region?
Music is designed for you to vibe to and understand. I can make you dance also. That’s what the singles “Chillin” and [the upcoming] “Pretty Girls” is for. I relate to you– that’s what “Be Right Shades” and “Her Diary” is about. And also, I get my rappin’ on with “Beautiful Bliss” and “Triumph”. It’s one of those situations where you can relate to it on several different aspects. And one day “Shades” may hit you right and the next day you may be somewhere else with it. It’s designed to touch you differently every single day. And that’s my appeal to the masses– to let them know that I’m more like you than a lot of these movie caricatures rappers. Know what I’m saying?
You’re signed to Allido/ Interscope but are rocking a Roc chain. What do you got going on with Roc Nation?
Roc Nation is my management, they co- manage me. They help me with a lot of my business endeavors and branding. It’s more so about the brand than the music. They let me handle the music and they handle brand. I get a lot advice from Jay-Z and [Roc Nation executives] Tah Tah and Jay Brown.
Let me go a little bit into your history because I know you were running with local guys– DJ Alizay was your manager and you was signed to Kenny Burns’ Studio 43 but moved on from both. What happened?
We just had creative differences, ya know. Me and Kenny are still cool to this day and he did a lot–he did a lot for me. We just had little creative differences and I took a little hiatus and did my own thing. Ended up going with Allido at Interscope.
So lets talk about the record. What’s your favorite song on the record?
They are all like my babies, man. It’s not like it’s 20 songs on the album. It’s only like 14 songs on the album. I have recorded about 35-40. Put it this way, I recorded about 45 but I was absolutely in love with about 20 of the records that I had. I feel like I narrowed it down enough. I can’t pick out just the one.
Who are some of the people that you worked with on the album?
Green Lantern, 9th Wonder, Cool and Dre, Mark Ronson and Best Kept Secret out of D.C.
So, when does the record drop?
Tell me about your show. You take your go-go band UCB everywhere you go?
Well, it’s not my band. I take them where I can afford to take them at this point even if that means not making nothing at a date. Because I just think it’s about the music more so than the money. I’m big on art. It’s a lot of energy, it’s a little bit of go-go and a lot of Funk in the show. And that makes me stand out.
Do you freestyle your records or write them?
I write. I write. I take time and write. Sometimes, I may go in and not write it down– just do it piece by piece. But, for the most part, I write.
Being signed to a British icon like Mark Ronson you’ve been able to do a lot of shows in Europe. Describe that crowd out overseas compared to over here.
Well, the appreciation for music is way different over there. It’s way different, it’s not like over here. It’s not really driven by who’s co-signing you. It’s just about how it sounds. Here, it’s “how many times have I seen this cat?”, “have I seen him?”, “do I know him?”, “do I know this record?” Stuff like that.
Since you’re signed to the “machine” now have you been dealing with any industry politics?
No. The industry has been good to me. But I do believe there is an imbalance of power. It’s like a rap club, so to speak. It’s the same three or four people on every remix but you know– that’s just what it is though.
Are you building anything on your own like your own label or trying to bring people up under you?
I’m just doing my project and the UCB project right now and working with [UCB singer] Tre. We’re writing and referencing records for other artists and working on [the UCB] project right now.
“Pretty Girls” is your next planned single? Is there going to be a video for that?
Yeah, we haven’t release it [but] it’s on the radio. It just leaked. But, there’s definitely going to be a video for that.
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