"Dedicated To The Winners & The Losers..." - Raekwon

Friday, October 30, 2009

Wale's "Mirrors".... The Calm Before The Shit Storm?

"The rest of State Property must be maaaaad..."

I have not been shy these last couple of months at expressing my trepidation regarding the prospects of quality regarding "Attention: Deficit", Wale's upcoming debut album. It seems that after Wale received near universal acclaim ("universal" meaning praise from people who don't find Gucci's jewelry/produce couplets the highest form of American poetry...) for "The Mixtape About Nothing," he's been far more concerned with hobnobbing with celebrities and updating his followers on the regularities of his bowel movement on Twitter (Seriously, have you seen how often this guy twitters? I know less about the every day's comings and goings of my closest friends than I do about this guy. Keep some mystery about yourself, dude!) than being in the studio crafting quality songs that people want to listen to. It makes one wonder if he's received too much hype too fast before he had the chance to build a solid audience or identity as an artist and instead, left him craving the fast money and limelight that a huge radio hit provides.

I have been less than ecstatic about his output that's been leaked for his album and this seemed directly tied to his obvious desires for a crossover smash (and thus far, his inability to write one). Enough blood has been spilled over the transcendent offense to the aural canals that is "Chillin", so there is no need to re-hash but the other material that has been released for the album have failed to capture my imagination as well. "Pretty Girls" was cool but it didn't help that it couldn't catch on despite that it featured the presence of every ig'nant rap fan's favorite manslaughter defendant, Gucci Mane. "World Tour" was slyly catchy but it was too derivative of a far greater Tribe Called Quest song for it to be considered a success. Meanwhile, "Let It Go (Inhibitions)" and "Contemplate", two high profile collaborations with famous artists (in this case, the Corpse Of Pharrell Williams and Rihanna) were the basic definition of album filler. It seemed the farther he strayed from his D.C. go-go influences into crossover territory the more flaccid the material became.

Today's leak du jour, "Mirrors," takes the opposite approach to the pop market pandering of "Attention: Deficit's" earlier leaks and not surprisingly, it's one of the more successful songs released from the album thus far. However, it still isn't quite the show-stopping monsters that "Back In The Go-Go" and "Nike Boots" were last year. "Mirrors" draws heavily from Mark Ronson's shockingly gutter production (who knew the Trust Fund King Of Hip Hop had these types of beats in him?) and Wale manages to acquit himself very nicely with a showy, stuterring cadence that proves he can ride a beat as well as anybody. Problem is that he's getting his shine seriously blocked by Bun B's killer sixteen (he tends to do that to even the best of rappers) and ultimately, Bun seems to make Wale seem like an afterthought on his own song. Wale has a lot of strengths as a writer (witty pop culture driven punchlines, an ability to write an issue driven song that doesn't come across as condescending, etc.) but going head-to-head against rappers of Bun's caliber is a recipe for looking foolish. He's much better at letting himself give space to muse on the song at hand than attempting to compete with other rappers for song dominance. He's just not that type of rapper. He's way better at working at a concept song and digging into the intricacies than anything else. It's definitively why "The Mixtape About Nothing" and "100 Miles & Running"(two mostly featureless records) are better than "Back To The Feature."

I'm not in FULL-ON PANIC MODE about "Attention: Deficit" because other than "Chillin", the songs have been simply unspectacular rather out right awful but I'm certainly worried that the record could be an assured disappointment. After all, I have spent quite the amount of time talking Wale up as if he's the future of hip hop. I wouldn't want to be wrong, now wouldn't I? I have a reputation to protect.

Random Notes:

- Wale and Ronson have had great chemistry ever since the initial "100 Miles & Running" mixtape two years ago. Wale should really considering working exclusively with Ronson and Best Kept Secret on all future products. They bring the best out of each other.

- This record is certainly not approaching a hit record (and I'm sure Tray is going to come wandering around to discuss some nonsense) but this is the type of stuff that Wale should be rhyming over for here on out.

- I only link to other blog's to provide zshare links because Interscope has a nasty habit of shutting your whole blog down if you deign to link to their material. Obviously, I'm interested in maintaining an accurate archive of my material. Mostly so commenters can bring up some hyperbolic comment about Saigon two years after the fact to flaunt that I once had something slightly positive to say about a rapper that he doesn't like. Consider this the trade-off, folks.

Download: Wale [Feat. Bun-B] - Mirrors
[Via Nah Right]


Anonymous said...

Ours is an envionment where evil is perceived to be rewarded while good is punished. As with everything the Gods have a reason for creating this perception::::
People who fall on the good side of the good/evil scale have more favor, and when they do something wrong the Gods punish them BECAUSE THEY WANT THEM TO LEARN. The Gods want them to receive this feedback in hope they make corrections and begin to behave appropriately. The Gods DON'T like evil and refuse to grant this feedback.
EVERYBODY pays for what they do wrong, only evil people must wait until their next life before they will experience the wrath of the Gods, manifested in their reincarnation as a lower form of life into environments with increased/enhanced temptations.
Sadly, this allows the Gods to position this perception of evil rewarded as temptation, one which they use as an EXTREMELY effective corruptor.

Both Africa and the Medittereanean are regions which have sexual issues. This is a sign of morbid disfavor once you understand that females are the God's favored gender. Muhammad's (Mohammed's) polygamy halfway through his life as a prophet was preditory. Now a huge percentage of Muslims believes in male superiority and that the abuse of women is God's will. Female genital mutilation is still practiced in Africa. Black misogyny is the most eggregious example in the recent past.
Black member size is temptation to a predisposed population.
The patriarchal cancer spread throughout Europe because of Christianity, of which the majority of policy makers were Italian men. Expect the largest landowner in Europe and the continent's original superpower also played a major role in African slavery.

Militancy in Africa is consistant with the Iraqi example, as was slavery and the KKK here in America:::Fear enforces proper behavior. Without it we see what happens as a result of gross/morbid disfavor:::::AIDS, crack babies, dead young men in gangland retaliation killings. This is the purpose behind many black's historical tendancy towards resistance.
The same principle was true in Europe and throughout the world for centuries:::People whom lived under iron fists were conditioned to think the right way. As a result they experienced higher numbers of children accend into heaven because they were taught to think and behave appropriately, which they passed on to their children. Our preditory envionment of "freedom" was the primary purpose the Gods had when implimenting this strategy that is the United States, one which they used to spred the cancer of democracy and westernization throughout the world. And the Gods use this tool that is America to prey on the disfavored both at home and abroad:::Much like the ghetto, America in general experiences a heightened level of temptation due to the people's disfavor.

Even the Old Testiment is not to be taken literally, but the Gods do offer clues throughout to help the disfavored:::The apple is a tool of temptation used to corrupt Adam and Eve and cast them out of the Garden of Eden.
There is another lesson to be learned from this passage, and it is quite similar to the vailing issue and the discourse over women's attire which ultimately died in the 70s:::Women are responsible for and control the fate of mankind.

Think about what I say. Consider what I teach. Society is going to become disturbingly ugly as we approach the Apocalypse due to spiralling, runaway disfavor.
I do not know when this will occurr, but it is the God's way to grant some time before they end on Planet Earth.
Make the decision to always be good and never look back. Until you do this technology will employ tactics to test your resolve:::Ridicule, beligerance, doubt and refusal to abandon what people perceive to be their "investment".
Pray daily. Think appropriately. Too many are confident, unaware of the God's awesome powers or their status as antients. Others may fall prey to their positioning.
Be humbled, God-fearing and beware of the God's temptations, for everyone is tested to evaluate their worthiness.
Search rest

tray said...

Interesting comment above. I have not listened to Mirrors, but the question I would ask is, if every song on the album were just as good as 'Nike Boots'/'Back In The Go Go,' which I would acknowledge are solid rap tunes to a certain extent, how highly would you rate such an album? I think that question gets down to the heart of how highly you rate Wale, even at his maximum potential. Me myself, I'd say those are very good but hardly earthshattering records, and Back In The Go Go probably owes much of its resonance to the Bun B verse and nicely scratched hook, while Nike Boots is, to me, a really great concept and in execution just a pretty good song.

Christopher said...

On a non-cryptic spam not, apparently your boy's LP just leaked in full. Googles nao.

Christopher said...


DocZeus said...

I know I listened to the record this weekend. It's good (not great) but basically, everything I wrote in this article still more or less applies. I'll review sometime this week after I get done with my Before I Self Destruct review.

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

FWIW, I like the record. But that's it. I'm disappointed in the album after loving The Mixtape About Nothing and even Back to the Feature as much as I did. I bumped the hell out of TMAN during the summer of 08.

Badmon3333 said...

Given the thoroughly-detailed, excellent production on older Wale mixtapes like "Broken Jazz 101" and "Africahot!" "Attention Deficit" is surprisingly pedestrian at times, the middle third particularly.

Trey Stone said...

i completely agree that Gucci's garbage and been latched onto because select rap fans want a new Wayne type to hype and delude themselves into thinking hip hop isn't in a slump this year. some of his shit is clever on paper maybe but he's just too ignorant and abrasive for me to handle, maybe that sounds condescending but whatever.

i still think of Wale and Drake as basically Wayne for backpacker nerds and white girls respectively though. i dunno, i know i've been on my Wayne stan shit forever, but if you grew up a nerd, and then you end up being someone with serious game and a weird/nerd side, that's the point where you can basically relate to everything Wayne says. he's the only rapper i've heard who can touch on basically every situation you can think of and it doesn't sound forced. much as i like Jay i can't say that was always true of him. smartest rapper alive, plus even his ignorant shit's clever as hell, so. not that i particularly dislike Wale, just don't really feel dude, his style leaves me cold.

haven't checked your blog in a minute, keep on keeping on man, i don't agree with a bunch obviously but i always feel where you're coming from and you always make good points

Trey Stone said...

then again i'm probably mostly thinking '06-'08 Wayne lol so i might be a little outta touch, though he's had his share of good shit this year, killed that new Shakira track

DocZeus said...

"i still think of Wale and Drake as basically Wayne for backpacker nerds and white girls respectively though."

See I think that's a really shallow reading of Wale's material. I can understand that in terms of cadence, Wale, Weezy and Drake bear some superficial similarities and they all seem to like dropping sports metaphors into their work. (Although, personally, I feel Wale's superior to both of them in that regard) But that's really where the similarities end.

For one, Lil Wayne is a coke rap/street oriented rapper that seems superficially infatuated with elements of hipster/nerd culture than the other way around. If you look at his career arc, you will notice that it wasn't until he started receiving attention from the Pitchfork/traditional rock audiences that he started incorporating hipster culture elements into his music and look. That's not an accident. You could argue that his evolution from "The Carter" to "The Carter 3" doesn't happen if the Tom Breihan's of the world don't start noticing him. Wale (and Drake as well) seems much more in his element and natural in this type of material. "100 Miles And Running" features him rapping over Justice, Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse and the Gorillaz long before Weezy started overtly fucking with nerd culture stuff. He's not biting anyone. Lil Wayne was still trying to sound like Hov and rapping over guys like the Runners during that period.

In terms of content of material, Wale is far more conceptual and idea oriented than Weezy ever or will ever be. You get the impression that his approach to music is that he sort of creates and creates and creates with little thought of the material and tosses it out to see what sticks.

Wale's approach is the polar opposite. It seems that everything he makes has been thought out (or perhaps in Attention Deficit's case overthought) and thus, he crafts material that is far more affecting. "The Kramer," "Shades", "The Perfect Plan", and "The Artistic Integrity" are records could ever pull out. Whenever, Wayne attempts to get "deep" (with the notable exception of "Shooter") , it almost always sounds completely rambling and off-focus. Think the coda to "Misunderstood" where he incoherently rambles about Al Sharpton. Conceptual focus is Wale's biggest strength and it's something that he has developed far more acutely than rappers that have been rapping for a decade. I mean "The Kramer" accomplished more as a cogent treatise on race than Nas' could on the entirety of "Untitled."

I can't tell how much I hate the Wayne/Wale comparison.

Trey Stone said...

i mean it's cool dude, i'm not trying to convert you to the unholy template of Weezy lol, i guess we just have reverse perspectives on this. when i hear Wale brag that he was the first to do "different shit" on the latest mixtape i take it as an insecure deal because he felt like he didn't get enough credit for stuff people like Kanye and Wayne had already done before him. Noz has mentioned this before and i think sometimes he's a little cynical about it but rapping over indie rock/electronic music does not necessarily = eclectic. it can be just as pandering as other people think fun dumb songs like "Lollipop" and "La La" are.

i was speaking in generalities, i'm not talking about your particular tastes, that's just the impression i get from other people i know who like these guys, granted it's more Drake since Wale isn't as known but still. i'll grant you that i'm sure Wayne is totally aware of the critical adulation he started receiving around "C2" and probably played into it with some of the really out-there shit on "Drought 3," but in my current mindstate when i bump "Dedication 2," "Drought 3" or that random-ass tape The Empire compiled of his in late '07 shit just feels real, natural. and so does "C3" even though it's more packaged, it's basically mixtape Wayne streamlined for popular consumption. think you're just a little cynical about Wayne because of the throwaway/wack punches and skepticism about skinny white hipsters liking a guy from the NO projects, lol, i understand but i don't agree, if you listen to any of Wayne's smarter songs, "I Like Dat," "Don'tGetIt," "Amen," "Georgia Bush" etc. it's obvious he's a smart motherfucker, not a genius but smart

anyway, that's my take on that, guess we just have different takes and that's fine

Trey Stone said...

temple, not template, hah

Trey Stone said...

my bad, missed the part where you said he incoherently rambles about Sharpton. the only incoherent part is some of his word choice, otherwise that's the most honest and truthful shit i've ever heard any rapper say about Sharpton, considering everyone from Jay to Nas to Young Jeezy just makes excuses about their content without actually confronting the consequences