After pushing out three solid mixtapes today is the day for Wale’s proper major label debut…and he saved some of his best stuff for it. Unlike what was previously reported the producer list is Kanye and P Diddy free. Instead Wale reached out to David Andrew Sitek of TV on the Radio to bring that raw TVOTR vibe to a new audience. . That sound is always welcome in my book. Beyond my TVOTR man crush, he’s a sensible producer choice here since Wale would seem to be trying to position himself as the next great introspective alternative rapper. You can almost buy that sentiment…but only if you dismiss the obligatory Neptunes track (“Let It Loose”) and the instantly accessible panderings of the lead single “Chillin” (featuring Lady Gaga). I can’t fault an artist for loading up his lead single with tons of hooks and honey. It’s where it goes after that what truly matters. Once you get past “Chillin” you’ll find some great beats (“Pretty Girls”) and some even greater social commentary (“90210″). Culture eviscerating lyrics coupled w/ great pop culture references and the occasional guest vocal are the building blocks to a great hip hop album. However what really sells it for me is what is NOT present. That would be the lack of skits. I’m not sure who ever gave rappers the idea that skits were a good thing to pepper in between songs but I think I can speak for everyone when I say “No Mas Por Favor”. Not even David Gray is that painful to listen to. When rocking your ipod on shuffle just about the last thing you want to hear is “The $20 Sack Pyramid”. If i wanted to force myself to hear unfunny hip hop artists channel their inner groundlings I’d go ahead and catch reruns of Wild N’ Out on MTV.
Highlights: “Triumph,” “Pretty Girls,” “90210,” “TV In The Radio”
Guilty Pleasure Highlight: “Chillin’”