It might be hard to remember that there are other rappers in the game after the highly discussed release of “Yeezus“ and “Born Sinner“, but DMV native Wale saved the June 25th release of his third full length “The Gifted” to have his time to truly shine. It is fair to say that Wale’s albums haven’t attracted as much attention or buzz as his mixtape releases, but this time around he doesn’t disappoint. Although this finished product isn’t without some flaws, this album is one of the strongest and most cohesive pieces of work we have heard from the MMG rapper in a while.
One of the unique things about Wale is his lyrical versatility on a track. Since the buzz-worthy release of the hit single “Bad” featuring Tiara Thomas, Wale’s direction post “Ambition” was seen as a more soulful, introspective sound. He continues this theme with his follow-up Marvin Gaye sampled single “LoveHate Thing” featuring Roc Nation‘s crooner Sam Dew, but still has the ability to bring it to the club with the high-energy vibe of “Clappers“. This is Wale’s much anticipated return to Go-Go and you can tell he is having fun on this track as he raps over the EU sample “Big Butt“. The addition of Juicy J is a nice touch, while Nicki Minaj‘s presence just feels rushed and completely underwhelming. This track is a nice club hit that offers a brief break from the seriousness of the rest of the album and shows that Wale still has the ability to transition from melancholy to silly.
Although still about the party life, the more Hip-Hop conscious side comes out through other tracks on the album. The Stokley Williams and No Credit produced “Gullible” featuring Cee-Lo and Lee Major produced “Golden Salvation (Jesus Piece)“. While “Gullible” is more of the pop-friendly radio single, “Golden Salvation (Jesus Piece)” has the more aggressive vibe that touches on the excessively covered substance over material. What could have easily come across as a played out PSA is cleverly delivered with witty lines. Wale teams with Lyfe Jennings and Yo Gotti on the Cardiak and No Credit produced chill track “Bricks” to speak about the trapping and hustling and drops some knowledge with Meek Mill on “Heaven’s Afternoon“.
Unlike his sophomore release “Ambition“, Wale pulls a U-haul of features for the majority of “The Gifted” but sometimes finds himself drowned out by the presence of another A-list artist on the track. His highly publicized “Bad (Remix)” has him returning to speaking on troubled women but the addition of Rihanna make the single sound more like her track. The Deputy and Corporal produced “Tired of Dreaming” is a smooth track with Ne-Yo making it his own on the chorus and Rick Ross adding to the seductive sound. The laid-back, darker “Rotation” has the DC rapper slowing down his flow as he imitates being on that grass while Wiz Khalifa and 2 Chainz‘s charismatic flow takes over.
The saving graces on the album come through on the braggadocios “88” and “Black Heroes“. Spitting on making it and treating his homies to the wealth he has accumulated, the dope Just Blaze and Tone P produced “88” is Wale’s return to the cocky flow that he is openly criticized for as he spits about sports and plenty of sneaker culture references. The latter “Black Heroes” is a nice addition with a witty flow that has a well deserved feature that many would not expect to hear on any rap album…ever.
There is no denying that June has been a great month for Hip-Hop. From the release of the high-profiled “Yeezus” to the dropping of J. Cole‘s sophomore LP “Born Sinner“, rappers have definitely had to put out some quality material to really compete for buyer’s pockets. Luckily for listeners, MMG rapper Wale’s third effort “The Gifted” lives up to the hype as a solid if-not perfect listen that holds a good balance of intelligent, introspective rhymes that are refined enough to not come off preachy and still brings it back to the roots of Go-Go.