Here is to hoping the powers that be don't take down a freaking review. As usual I need to be honest about any bias before I start a review. I don't really like Wale. He strikes me as a real jerk and he is too early in his career to come across that way. Second, I have a problem with the DMV support, not because I don't like people from DC, but because I know there are a lot of people from Baltimore trying to support because they think the love is going to extend North but I'm not believing that it is going to happen. I have the nagging idea that the artists up here are still going to be ignored even after trying to promote in the interest of the region. Hopefully, i'm wrong. Let me tell you though, I was pleasantly surprised by this album especially after hearing "Nike Boots" and "Chillin'" which both were wack.
But he can't make good singles to me, screw it, let's get into the album which has a decidedly D.C. go-go feel to it. I'm not hard go-go fan but this is a good hybrid mix on the album. Early on in the album "Mama Told Me" draws me in after the opening salvo of "Triumph". Good start as Wale also shows more lyrical ability than on the two singles stated above. "Mirrors" is a good concept song about the fact artists don't tell the truth about themselves. Ironically, the song features Bun B who has of late put out lackluster material for the love of regular checks. He does fine on this song as he doesn't even use the word "Trill".
"Pretty Girls" which was performed on the BET Hip-Hop awards should have been the single. It bangs and features Gucci Mane which couldn't hurt when it comes to spins. "World Tour" is another solid cut that also shows Wale knows his hip-hop. Jazmine Sullivan also lends her unique voice to the hook. This should have been single number 2. Chrisette Michelle lends her talents to the powerful "Shades" which addresses the long overdue issue about the tension amongst dark and light skinned people in the black community.
I am torn about "Tv in the Radio". I like the break-beat and Wale does have one quotable line but K'naan actually kills the song and really saves it for me. "Beautiful Bliss" features J. Cole and me(?) and is a decent song but nothing stands out for me. Maybe it's because J. Cole isn't bringing me anything and he needs to. "90210" is a sort of cautionary song about a girl in the Beverly Hills zip code. It's cool but not for me. I understand the idea behind "Diary" with Marsha Ambrosius but I don't think the flow and style really works.
The three downs for me on this album are "Chillin'" the lead single which is wack, "Let it Loose" featuring Pharrell which is even worse, and to a lesser extent "Contemplate" because of the gimmicky rap style. The album ends with Prescription which is a strong finish.
I honestly came in expecting the worse, an arrogant mix of Kid Cudi and Kanye at the worst. The singles had me very wary and I don't care about mixtapes when it comes time to actually do an album. Wale did come through for me however and I have to give him his props. This rating is a little stretch upwards I think but this is a really good album. It's not about gangster shit yet it's real and honest. This one is going to be in the running for album of the year next year.