It was bound to happen. A Black man would take center stage in the urban spotlight to represent the nation’s capital. Yeah, President Obama has the entire country’s eyes on his executive position, but Olubawale Folarin or Wale as he’s much better known, has become D.C.’s Hip-Hop voice as he’s risen to become the city’s most recognizable representative in the particular branch. Building the base of his campaign through favored mixtapes (The Mixtape About Nothing, Back To The Feature,) his efforts were rewarded when he was elected as the new face of the studious artist. One who can be equally commercial as compelling. With that billing, he attempts just that for his debut album Attention Deficit. A record moderately successfully in aiming to please everyone.
Wale prides himself immensely as a lyricist (see clever quips like “Nigga I’m 100 miles far/I’m feeling Chris Childs/You looking like Kobe Bryant’s jaw“); a trait considered a rarity in today’s single-driven industry. With that talent alone, he’s able to maintain Attention Deficit as a somewhat engrossing affair throughout the highs and lows. In fact, AD’s various highlights are scattered across the board, keeping things fairly unpredictable. Chrisette Michelle lends her soothing charm to the meditative platform of “Shades,” an angled look on self-racism whereas melody maker, Best Kept Secret’s “Pretty Girls” draws its strength from Go-Go, the grassroots sound of Washington D.C. The latter especially, demonstrates the allure of Wale’s delivery. Adept in bobbing and weaving through vivid audio, further illustrated on tracks like the energetic “World Tour.”
Attention Deficit isn’t devoid of its tedious moments however, no matter what the title tries to imply. Missing is that unseen glue that pieces songs together to establish a cohesive flow, like the great albums possess. The distilled production, full of sparse instrumentation and delicate treble riffs, rarely shine on their own merit and often highlight Wale’s lyrical freelances which range from aimlessness to downright puzzling. The Neptunes devise up a dragging, congo-laden rumpus in “Let It Loose” where Wale baits the females into clubbing without fatigue. A sharp contrast in AD’s “meat & potatoes” as our hero plays surrogate to faceless damsels on “90210” and “Diary” alike. And the subject matter of “Contemplate” is spacier than the beat supplied by Syience as the topics flip from ex-girlfriend to celebrity montage in one blip.
Of course, big releases have expectations for even bigger results. Aside from the fact Attention Deficit is bogged down by three too many guests appearances (J. Cole’s ridiculous flow on “Beautiful Bliss” being a welcomed exception), the album’s identity appears to be somewhat contrived. Case in point: the leadoff single “Chillin,'” which features Pop outlaw Lady Gaga. The track, accessible as it may be, appears as if it was blatantly created for radio play instead of genuinely made to entertain. Artistic expression never sounded so contractual.
Wale’s inauguration is conflicted, but never hampered to the point of condemnation; a tell-tale sign of the MC’s aforementioned talent. With more attention to detail (and less label persuasion), look for Wale to continue expand his career at his own pace. After all, even the White House wasn’t painted black in one day.
Previously Posted — TSS Presents Fifteen Minutes With Wale