So finally, the long awaited sophomore album of DC's Wale is just about ready to drop and either solidify him as one of the brightest stars in the game or possibly drop him down to the title of also-ran. His first album was a great surprise that I gave an award to for album of the year. It was the best debut of any of the new crop of rappers that have come out in the past three years or so. Unfortunately, my hopes for this one are tempered by Wale's alliance with Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group which doesn't seem to be a natural fit.
The album starts out decent with "Don't Hold Your Applause" which is a great way to open this album. It maintains the live album feel that DC go-go is known for and Wale works well with the track. "Double M Genius" is a decent play at the MMG letters as Wale brags on his skills though his more aggressive flow reminds me of fellow label mate Meek Mill more than his own. On "Legendary" Wale goes in with more straight lyrical anger and old-school style spitting than I'm used to from him but it works well. The spirit of "Nike Boots" lives on in the form of "Chain Music" which is a club joint that has been in rotation for a while now.
The lead single features Miguel, and is the soft "Lotus Flower Bomb". now saying it's soft isn't a crack on this one because it fits in with the poetry and green tea set. Lloyd is the featured guest on "Sabotage" about a woman who can submit herself to a happy relationship, the beat is cool but the hook and pre-chorus are slightly annoying. "White Linen (Coolin)" which has Ne-yo handling the hook duties, is a bit noisy and it doesn't quite fit together as smoothly as I would have liked it to. "Miami Nights" is all Wale but it doesn't have anything to it of substance, it's cool but doesn't resonate. "Focused" has a different vibe to it as it's a Kid Cudi produced and hooked song and it fits in better with being a slight change of feeling song in the album compared to the songs around it.
I'm convinced Big Sean is on of the worst artists out, I'd rather hear Young Berg, as it is, he is featured on "Slight Work" which sounds like a song that will take off in the club, especially in DC. I'm not familiar with Go-go but this title is probably a play on one of the styles of dance in DC clubs. Hood single "Bait" is also here on the 'deluxe' edition and it is a very catchy track even though it is unorthodox. Rick Ross outshines Wale on "That Way" which also feature Jeremih, just because his flow is tailored made for such a beat.
"No Days Off" is a throwaway filler for me personally, while "Illest B___" disappoints the hell out me. Wale is talking about his sister yet referring to her as the illest bitch alive. I don't like that and wish someone like Wale would refrain from even using the term to refer to women and especially his family. The title track, "Ambition", features Meek Mill and Ross and is not the track it should be. Looking at the title, listening to the track, and building the album around this concept, Wale should have stepped up and dropped a better, relevant verse, especially since he went last. Mill does his thing and Ross cops out terribly after about 2 1/2 good bars that showed some depth. Wale starts off with some strong bars it falls off very fast when he says "long as your mother love you/don't ever love a woman" which is not only dumb but didn't even relate. However, "DC or Nothing" is the song that should have been "Ambition". I wouldn't say I dislike DC but being from Baltimore, it is always an uneasy acceptance of our close proximity. But this song is the truth, the passion and fire are there in this song.
Overall, the album could have been much worse with the move to Maybach music. I was worried about the sound being totally different, but Wale managed to evolve sonically however, in the area of song creativity there is a step back. Too many of the songs are the same way when it comes to women and relationships and he talks too much about his weed habits. He just throws it in there lazily to take up space. While "Lotus Flower Bomb" and "DC or Nothing" represent so much of what is powerful about Wale he gets weighed down with pseudo-smooth songs like "Cool Linen" where is flow doesn't quite fit the style.