On Wale’s classic (my favorite project from him) mixtape, A Mixtape about Nothing, he had a interesting track on their called “The Artistic Integrity“. It started off with a scene from Seinfeld as George Costanza was speaking to the executives of their TV Show. As they wanted to make some changes, George went on a rant about not compromising and keeping his artistic integrity. With that being the theme of the song, Wale raps about the pressures of art over commerce, the pros and cons of fame and comparison ( Within that concept, Wale also delivers one of the best triple entendres in hip hop history with “We apples and oranges but everybody pears/peers/pairs). It’s his wordplay and passion from this track and songs like “The Perfect Plan” ( where he gives a promising and precise prophecy of the problem that kills hip hop) that made him the people’s champion for becoming the savior of hip hop. Ironically, the same one’s who gave him that title also put him on the cross. With a string of unsuccessful commercial releases, people feel as though Wale has lost his artistic integrity. While many of us are asking, “What happened to Wale?”, I challenge you in this article to think “What have WE done to Wale?”.
Why did Wale stop being lyrical? This is a question that I continue to hear. I follow it up with “When did he stop being lyrical?“. With his first major release, “Attention Deficit”, people felt that he was all over the place….hence the name of the project. That project (***go ahead and get your stones ready to throw, but don’t stop reading) was this generation’s “All Eyez On Me” album..BECAUSE OF THE VARIOUS SUBJECTS THAT ARE COVERED ON THE ALBUM (NOT BECAUSE HE IS TUPAC!!!). No one had a album that talked about inner racism (Shades), black women’s struggles (Diary), a accurate account and effect of fame (90210), depression (Contemplate) along with radio and club singles packed into one album within this generation like Wale. Kanye and Lupe (his “pears”) came close..but not as artistic as Wale. He didn’t fail us, we failed him by not supporting. With each project, we expected “more” from him and he began to become “less” of who and what we loved from him. Side Note- “Golden Salvation” ties with Nas “I gave you power” as the best personification tracks created in hip hop.
As I have heard people talk about how they hate his new album “Shine“, I simply ask you “What do we really want from Wale?“. When we have asked him to be lyrical and he delivered…it wasn’t enough. When we asked him to be a little more street and he delivered….it wasn’t enough. When we asked him to be more trendy and he delivered….it wasn’t enough. People say that he is a “crybaby“, but he is “crying out” about his baby…which his his art. We don’t really know what we want from him. This weird web that we spun for Wale is one that almost every artist of every genre gets trapped in. Am I saying that I love every track that Wale comes out with? Not at all. I simply want us to be honest with ourselves about how fickle we can become as fans towards artists. We want them to stay in “our own LITTLE box“. Once they get too big for the box, we throw them away. Wale, along with any other artist that you have done that to, doesn’t deserve that. That is why so many of them begin to think, “What good is artistic integrity, if the fans won’t let me be artistic?“. What do we really want from Wale and every other artist we listen to? I don’t think we really know. In a world of apples, oranges and pears…fans have just become too fruity. Spread The Soup!