“With hip-hop continuing to take a creative downturn, Attention: Deficit is a long-overdue stimulus package.” – XXL (XL Rating)
“Several excellent mixtapes have won Wale a reputation as a smart lyricist in an age of dumbed-down ringtone rap. He often lives up to that promise on his major-label debut, tossing out deep thoughts and show-offy puns over beats that pay homage to the go-go of his native D.C.” – Entertainment Weekly
“It’s a stellar offering from a wildly gifted rapper…” – WashingtonPost.com
“With his Lil Wayne-worthy punchlines, Kanye levels of heart, and Hova-approaching fluidities of flow, Wale’s not being overly presumptuous when he calls himself the ‘past, present, and future of hip-hop.'” – SlantMagazine.com
Attention Deficit, the debut album from D.C. rapper Wale is available today everywhere music is sold!
MP3: Pretty Girls – Wale ft. Gucci Mane & Weensey
Attention Deficit – In Stores TODAY!
You pronounce his name: Wah-Lay! He brings many blessings on the mic and he’s from D.C. Rap heads and broader music fans know that the nation’s capital is both a blessing and a curse. It’s an intensely musical city, volatile, stratified, somewhat disenfranchised. Natives often chirp about the ‘crab-in-the-bucket’ syndrome when it comes to artists’ getting up and out. But without struggle there is no progress. And when they do get out, boy, watch out.
Twenty-four-year old Wale Folarin first broke out and broke ground in 2005, appearing in the Source magazine’s vaunted Unsigned Hype column—the same column that launched the careers of the Notorious B.I.G., Common, and Mobb Deep. The son of Nigerian immigrants, Wale was exposed to all sorts of music growing up. His father, a city cab driver, would field radio requests day and night from his wide-ranging clientele. He’d then bring these different sounds into his own family’s home. “His musical tastes were all over the place,” Wale grins. “By the time I was born, I got all of them. Of course, in D.C. we have the go-go influence; that’s the sound of my niche so to speak. Then my father loved African music; then I would hear records from Thriller to the Beatles to LL Cool J to Jay-Z to Camp Lo to everything from down South. I was listening to all that stuff.”
So many stimuli could prove distracting. Indeed, Wale wrestled with incorporating his array of musical influences into a finished product that was cohesive and fluid. “I kept coming back to Jay-Z’s The Black Album, how it was personal and musical,” he reflects. “I wanted to do an album like that because D.C. is musical. But when I sat down to write, I felt different every session. So the album is musical, but it doesn’t have one theme. When I felt something, I put it down. That’s why it’s called Attention: Deficit. I don’t speak on one thing. And I finally got comfortable with that; after all, there’s a lot I wanted to say.”
For years, Wale built his yen to speak. But it wasn’t for inactivity or sitting idly and thinking deep thoughts. Wale was a collegiate athlete when the Source column hit, playing football at Bowie State University. He’d previously played at both Robert Morris College and Virginia State University. In what little free time remained, he toured furiously on the strength of digital mixtapes such as Paint a Picture and Hate is the New Love. In 2007, he independently released the record “Good Girls,” which caught the ear of world-renowned DJ and producer Mark Ronson. The two felt instant creative synergy, and Wale signed to Ronson’s Allido records. That same year, the two performed at the legendary Glastonbury Music Festival and also at the MTV Video Music Awards.
Wale followed the grounds well with a string of successful mixtapes—such as 2008’s superlative Mixtape About Nothing and the recent gem Back to the Feature. Both the underground and the mainstream had taken notice; Wale graced a 2008 XXL Magazine cover, alongside upstart blue chippers Asher Roth, Kid Cudi and Charles Hamilton, as part of the magazine’s yearly Freshman 10 feature. Each year, XXL anoints ten MCs charged with leading hip-hop. Wale is at the very forefront of that movement.
Need another industry cosign? Try Hov himself. Jay-Z opened both his arms and his doors to the D.C. MC, signing Wale to his Roc Nation management company. Wale embraced the opportunity, for himself and his oft-maligned hometown. “When I first met with Jay, I was like: ‘I want to do 100,000 the first week, 50,000 in D.C.,” Wale harkens. “He was like: ‘Don’t think about putting D.C. on the map, don’t put that pressure on yourself because a lot of other people will put it on you,’” Wale reveals. “‘Just concentrate on making the best music you can and hope DC gets the attention it deserves.’ That’s one of the best pieces of advice Jay-Z ever gave me.”
The sage advice has paid off. Wale comes armed with his ambitious yet polished debut album, Attention: Deficit, dropping September 22nd. Released earlier this spring, first single “Chillin’” featuring Lady Gaga and produced by gifted beatsmiths Cool & Dre, has already damaged airwaves and dancefloors worldwide. Wale’s unorthodox delivery interweaves with Lady Gaga’s infectious, rambunctious melody. “I just wanted to do something fun,” he says of “Chillin.’ “It’s totally left from the rest of my album. I wanted to collaborate with somebody who’s never worked with a rapper to get the net as wide as I could— bring everybody into my world. Like, ‘Look dog, this is what these 300,000, 400,000 people have been talking about for years.’ This album will illustrate what people been talking about: creativity, showmanship, lyricism, impeccably written songs, everything that made people follow me from jump.”
Another joint to check for is “Mirror,” produced by Mark Ronson and featuring Bun B. “‘Mirror, tell me I’m the realest/All these other ni–as got gimmicks in their lyrics,’” Wale raps. “I can look at you without having a problem. I know who I am. ‘Mirror’ is all about integrity.” Elsewhere, find the fitting “Artistic Integrity Part 2,” also called “Center of Attention.” “I’m talking about the world from an artist’s point of view,” Wale informs. “There’s a line where I say people are ‘keeping up with Khloe and Kim [Kardashian], not the Obamas though.’ I’m analyzing people keeping with pop culture and America’s fascination with celebrity. When people get obsessed with it, it makes you wonder what are we doing with our lives?” But Attention: Deficit is not about preaching, it’s about sharing. Wale’s many facets are on glittering display. “My goal is to just connect with people,” he explains. “I think my album does that because I have big, unusual ideas. There are songs about insecurities, songs about love but from a dark side of it. Listeners will find something that makes sense to them.”
“No matter what, you keep growing,” he concludes. “It’s like I’ve done 1200-seat shows and sold them out. OK, I want to do 3,000 now. The press picked me to be one of the dudes to blow up in hip-hop; let me do it. But when I do it, don’t praise me too hard, just let me do it again. I might be the best, but the world doesn’t know that yet. Then when I am number one, I will have to prove it every single time. And I will.”