With the release of Self Made Vol. 2, The Source thought it would be appropriate to highlight the prolific career of Wale. Many new hip-hop fans might be under the impression that the D.C. born artist is new to the game; be sure of this: Wale is a battle-hardened MC and has proven it over his already long, successful and influential career. Below is his discography in chronological order. Respect Mr. Folarin, for he has filled our iPods with gigs of quality music over the years.
“Paint a Picture” (2005) This was Wale’s debut release as an artist. Here, he accentuated the go-go style of music that arose out of the D.C. area in the 60’s and 70’s by frequently syncopating the rhythms in his bars; this made him unique and extremely regional in his music. Although it found only a small amount of hype and praise, it’s content clearly shows a foundation for a powerful career.
“Hate is the New Love” (2006) Wale found his stride with his second mixtape, teaming up with the likes of Kanye West, RZA, Rick Rubin, Swizz Beatz, Timbaland, The Neptunes, Dr. Dre and Don Cannon for a powerful production team. The stand out track is clearly “A.D.D. 2,” which was masterfully produced by a slew of the producers named above, and includes Folarin tirelessly flowing over different beats that vary in tempo, style and instrumentation.
“100 Miles & Running” (2007) The third mixtape in his discography marks a new era of positive critical recognition. His creativity and virtuosity was taken to another level when he sampled songs from Justice, Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen. Wale’s lyrics were referred to by one critic as “the thinking man’s Lil Wayne,” noting his deep and insightful bars on life, in both the micro and macro sense. Specifically, the remix of Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.,” renamed “W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E,” was called “positively epic” and was given the honor of a 2007 MTV Video Music Awards performance.
“The Mixtape About Nothing” (2008) Wale truly created his best work to date with this free mixtape; modeled after one of his favorites TV Shows, “Seinfeld,” he began every track with “The,” included snippets of the show’s audio between and within songs, and creatively referenced to the show in his metaphors. The mixtape was an extremely complete project, featuring The Roots, Lil Wayne, Bun B, Pusha T and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. It deservedly received positive critical acclaim, and as usual for Wale, touched on social issues like race and society.
Back to the Feature” (2009) A play on the movie, “Back to the Future,” the title refers to the amount of features he included on the mixtape, specifically K’naan, Tamere Guess, Talib Kweli, Joell Ortiz, Beanie Sigel, Curren$y, J. Cole and Bun B. As a precursor to his first studio album, “Attention: Deficit,” the mixtape received positive feedback, but was noted as “neither a step back nor forward.” Stand out tracks include “Rather Be With You,” featuring J. Cole and “Pot of Gold,” which displayed Wale’s true mastery of metaphors and syncopation.
“Attention: Deficit” (2009) “Attention: Deficit” was Wale’s first studio album and sold 28,000 copies in it’s first week; it received some positive reviews, but Wale was given praise for his ability to stick to his “go-go”/D.C. roots while still maintaining an album that received commercial acclaim. The album was characterized by it’s lyrics, which touched upon a majority of the emotions of the human psyche; Wale said himself that the title came from his inability to remain on one topic or feeling, hence having attention deficit disorder.
“More About Nothing” (2010) Following a disappointing commercial performance by “Attention: Deficit,” Wale released “More About Nothing,” a semi-sequel to the successful “Mixtape About Nothing;” the mixtape again referenced to “Seinfeld” in it’s metaphors and artwork, but delved into more personal topics pertaining to Wale’s life. “The Problem” is the thematic and emotional centerpiece of the album, poetically outlining where Wale was at his life, both professionally and personally.
“Self Made Vol. 1” (2011) Following Wale’s allegiance to Maybach Music Group and Rick Ross, MMG released “Self Made Vol. 1,” a collaborative studio album that featured Wale, Meek Mill, Teedra Moses, Pill, Stalley, Triple C’s, and a slew of guest artists. Although the D.C. rapper signed to a diverse group of artists, Wale impressively stuck to his own roots, continuing to shred the sometimes hard beats of MMG with his syncopation and “go-go” flow. The album received semi-positive critiques, but no critic could deny the constant flow of Mr. Folarin.
“The Eleven One Eleven Theory” (2011) “Sometimes a simple cadence can get in the way of the greatness of a n****’s statements;” this line introduced the theme of the mixtape, which was entirely raw in production and a lyrically open book. Wale kept it real and current (as usual), delving into topics like the double standard of the treatment of star athletes, but constantly relating back to his own emotions as well as the macro consequences to society. “The Eleven One Eleven Theory” was a prime example of Wale’s scope and ability, but only a warm-up for his second studio album.
“Ambition” (2011) “Ambition” was by far the largest commercial success Wale has had to date; it peaked at the #2 spot on the U.S. Billboard 200 Chart, and #1 on both the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop and Rap Albums Charts. Although five singles were released, two prior to the album’s release, “Lotus Flower Bomb,” “Slight Work” and “Ambition” were the most successful. MMG took on numerous features on the album, but Big Sean, Lloyd, Miguel and Kid Cudi also made major appearances. As usual, Wale was able to find commercial success while still sticking to his lyrical morals and skill.
“Self Made Vol. 2” (2012) Maybach Music Group has found incredible success so far in 2012. The loyal squad has not only managed to support each other’s individual projects, but release singles with hot features and release the long anticipated “Self Made Vol. 2.” Wale is on a majority of the album, especially putting ‘werk’ in on his critically acclaimed verse on the first single, “Power Circle.” Sticking to his poetic foundation, Wale begins his verse with “may the wind be at your back/may the bad be in your past/may your kids take all your good/and your wife have class.” The end of 2012 and 2013 will surely be a prominent time for MMG, specifically Wale, who clearly does not plan on slowing down anytime soon.
-Kevin Shea (@kevinnshea)