Album review - Wale - The Gifted

I can admit this is the one album that I was waiting for this summer. Wale is one of hip-hops more gifted mc's and his affiliation with Rick Ross and his MMG imprint has raised his profile. Wale is one of those artists who blurs the line between street and poetic yet there are still people who aren't convinced that Wale is really an artist worth paying attention to. Maybe it's his flow, maybe it's his attitude, but for whatever reason Wale has a significant amount of hurdles to climb as he looks to cement himself as one of hip-hops elite with his third album, "The Gifted"

The album starts with "The Curse of the Gifted" which includes a little skit where some young dudes plotting to spray paint a statue of Wale. Then he goes into his verses which are about the stresses and pressures of the game and being near the top of it The track is somewhat simple, but it does echo the live instrumentation feel of DC's go-go scene. This leads us to "Lovehate Thing" with the chorus by Sam Dew. This song sounds like an update of a summer cookout song by Maze and Frankie Beverly musically. The song is talks about the dichotomy of being at the top of the game and how the people feel about you. The pre-chorus or bridge after the first verse is a bit too much for me at that point in the song, especially because he reprises it later. "Sunshine" continues the vibe as he raps about living life and shining.

"Vanity" is that typical Wale dud as he sings on the track and tries to be a trap rapping Atlanta artist when he isn't. However, the previous tack "Golden Salvation (Jesus Piece)" is very ill as Wale raps from the perspective of an iced out piece hanging from the chain of a rapper/baller. What makes it even better than an average personification track is the way Wale weaves in the different descriptions as a jeweler would while moving this story along. "Simple Man" is close to bringing back the 90's NY sound in the beat and Wale goes ahead and just raps on the track he wants "the money fuck the fame".

Meek Mill features on "Heaven's Afternoon" as he and Wale talk about the fact they have made it from being where they weren't supposed to have anything. "Gullible" featuring Cee-Lo has Wale probably rapping while thinking about his twitter feuds and the impact of people believing what they read, hear, or see on tv, radio and online. Wale brings Yo Gotti on "Bricks" where he talks about the dope game and why some people get into it while also admitting he wasn't built for it and the jealousy he felt as people he knew profited from it. Yo just there as Lyfe Jennings handles the chorus. Rihanna is of course on the "Bad" remix while the original with Tiara Thomas (which I prefer) makes the album as an extra basically. Juicy J gets trippy along with Nicki Minaj on "Clappers" the required strip club song. Wiz Khalifa and 2 Chainz both feature on "Rotation"

Ne-yo and Rick Ross feature on "Tired of Dreaming" as they join Wale to tell a lady love what they are tired of dreaming. The most irritating yet one of the flyest songs on the album is "88" as Wale describes himself as Jordan in 88 when he first rise to the top. its frustrating because the way the track is set up and with Wale's skill set he could have just murdered this beat. Instead he takes time out to sing a little and lets like an entire minute at the end of the song play out when he could have been showing us how gifted he really is. "Black Heroes" is the song that leads into an outro featuring Jerry Seinfeld. Don't sleep on Black Heroes though because Wale gives us some of the kind of bars he should have blessed us with on "88" talking about the current black heroes rappers, and what he brings to the table, or what they don't as opposed to what they portray.

For whatever reason Wale was the slept on member of this month's upcoming releases. Between the Kanye and J. Cole madness and then Jay-z's surprise announcement, it has become more of  a struggle to get noticed for the DC area rapper. Luckily for him he puts forth a solid effort that stands up next to those that have just dropped. While it's not as outlandish as Yeezus, Wale manages to come with his own sound on this album that is more like his first release and allows you to feel his local roots. Lyrically, Wale has opportunities he doesn't take advantage of, at times over thinking construction and relying on some gimmicks that have worked for Drake in the past. It doesn't work the same for Wale because his delivery is so different. He set the bar so high with his initial album that it has been hard to get back to that level and maintain his new fans and sales and move along with the culture. Out of these last three albums to drop Wale's is the best but I wouldn't call it great, it's some small thing missing from a couple of songs that would have made them great but they end up being just very good.

Rating: 3.5/5


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