After the lukewarm reception of his official debut album Wale has made the surprising switch to Rick Ross his outfit. Will his ambition finally pay off rolling with MMG or is he the odd one out among the roster? The Brain Trust assembles again to find out.
Thanks to living in DC and holding friendships with a number of the rappers from this area, I have been privy to hearing the full story about Wale. Mostly, I have heard that he is a total dick to everyone, and throws a fit whenever he doesn’t get his way. What made the fallout from Attention Deficit so detrimental to Wale’s career was that the fans weren’t just disappointed with his music, we were starting to become disappointed with the man, himself. Hearing him whine and complain about the album’s sales, along with his Twitter account becoming a dead weight on my timeline, made us all fall out of love with Wale, and left many of us wondering if the fantastically large hype he had at the start of his career was all hot air. Following his move to Maybach Music, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about what Wale should do next; quite simply, he put it that Wale needed to mature and grow up as a man, if he wanted to actually make successful music. Having listened to Ambition, I can happily say that Wale has grown up, both as an artist and as a man. For the first time, Wale sounds at home with the music supporting him, bouncing effortlessly with the beat that takes influences from all of Wale’s travels (most notably, Miami and other MMG stomping grounds). Tracks like “Legendary” feature the man going in at a level he never has before, and while I’m a bigger fan of “Bait” for its go-go beat, “DC or Nothing” serves as a perfect placeholder for a love letter to his hometown. It might have taken him a while, and he may still be guilty of engaging in stupid fights on Twitter, but Wale has finally lived up to the hype. And that’s something to make a Rick Ross grunt about.
I gotta give props to Wale from not relying on Rawse to carry Ambition. And just like any Rick Ross release, the production is all of that good stuff that you expect. As well as the features. But Wale? …meh. He still ain’t rappin’ ’bout shit. Seems like he tried to make a bunch of songs that he can milk as singles for the next 12 months. If you want to be entertained by Wale, follow him on Twitter.
Make no mistake, Wale is a technically proficient rapper who proved on his excellent “Mixtape About Nothing” he can incorporate intersting views and themes into a dexterously spit and cohesive project. When Wale signed with “The Untouchable Maybach Empire” however, many were slightly boggled, since Rozay isn’t particularly known for his conceptual density. Surprisingly, the cuts that feel the most ‘MMG’ on his album, like the title track featuring Ross & Meek Mill or the clubby ‘Chain Music,’ work best. It’s on the rest of the tracks unfortunately, where the album falters. At four sonically cinematic tracks laced with keys and strings in, Wale is still trying to convince you of the epicness of this event without really saying much else. The album buckles under the self-inflicted pressure of wanting to be a classic and feels like the auditory equivalent of running a victory lap when the match has barely started. Throwing terms like ‘Legendary’ around doesn’t necessarily make ‘em true.
Ambition is Ambien for me. I only mess with 5 joints on here – “Chain Music”, “Ambition”, “Slight Work”, “That Way” and “Bait.” The rest of the album doesn’t stand out to me. Wale called this album a ‘classic’ but I’m fairly certain he came up with a new definition for the word. Ambition is average.
To preface everything, I’m not mad at Wale. I was never the biggest Wale fan – either I missed the boat or just don’t get the hype – but I’m all about heads that get that buzz and parlay it into a power move. Wale moving to MMG was huge – maybe more so for him than Rawse (who probably saw “Pop” dreams when Wale signed), and I figure Wale feels like his place is solidified with this movement. Thing is, throughout a meh CD, I feel no connection to Wale. Being a “black nigga with ambition” is dope, as are the “Maybach Music” drops over some of these Rawse-rejects, but they still add up to a real snoozefest. I appreciate the ambition, but I just wish it was more exciting – and intriguing. Mehbach, indeed.
The best hip-hop albums combine passionate lyrics and sound production, embroidered with streaks of wit, as in prime Tribe or Kanye West. Unhinged pop ambition is a different story. It can sound just as vapid as the purist attitude so many old school heads run afoul on. So if this new batch of anthems Wale crafted for Double-M-Genius benefits from his occasional cleverness, it suffers the misfortune of perpetual incertitude. Not that most of the songs on Ambition aren’t enjoyable–they are. But today’s sound dictates tomorrow’s legacy, nobody becomes great by pleasing all, and Lord help us there are five R&B singers here doing their best to drag this thing downhill. Basically, if you believed for a second that Wale took his talents to South Beach to give himself a second shot at success you’ll hear the quiet desperation and blurt out, “I told you so.” The rest of us will rejoice in this: “Chain Music,” about said decision to join forces with Rozay because “somehow it made them listen,” and “Bait,” in which Wale works that charming combo of catchy lyrics and strong production.
I’m conflicted about Wale’s “Ambition”. I want to like it..i really do, but somehow..I just don’t. Is it better than his first cd? I can’t answer that, because this seems to be a different Wale now. In a different space – sometimes introspective, mostly a braggart, sometimes pro-women and very MMG-ified. As a fan since his mixtapes, he set his bar so high himself, that I feel like he can do so much more, be so much better than what he’s done with “Ambition”. The beats are there, the lyrics are there (the depth always isn’t), but as far as the actual chemistry and everything coming together to be a cohesive album? *shrugs* I’m not sold. Don’t get me wrong, there are songs that I love on the cd, like “Don’t Hold Your Applause”, “Chain Music”, “Ambition”), but there’s plenty of them that I’ll never play past my initial listening. The evolution of Wale as an artist is very interesting to see, from his beginnings in DC to his first cd underperforming and now his career & overall popularity being resurrected by his MMG signing, and trust as a fan, I want him to succeed. However, with this 2nd cd, I still don’t think that we have a clear picture of who Wale is, or what he’s about. And that is what I, as a fan, am waiting for.