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Album Reviews Featured

Wale releases “Attention Deficit”

Attention DeficitWale, the widely-acclaimed D.C. rapper, has finally dropped his debut album, Attention Deficit.  The darling of the indie hip-hop crowd (are they still called backpackers?), Wale has spent the past two or three years meticulously engineering a reputation as a talented lyricist and astute pop culture scrutineer.  From “doing justice to Justice,” to dropping a Mixtape About Nothing, to rising up with The Roots, Wall to the A (whose real name is Olubowale Akintimehin) has mastered the art of raising expectations; to say that his first major label attempt was highly anticipated would be an understatement.

Clocking in at 14 songs, Attention Deficit has an expansiveness that belies its modest track list.  Wale, trying to refute recent accusations that he lacks personality, touches on a surprising range of topics, jumping almost at random from “persona to persona.”  Meditations on “insecurity, bulimia, infidelity, intra-racial discrimination, self-loathing and coked out, aspirational celebrities” form the basis for an ambitious, almost experimental, record.

The results, I think, are mixed.  On “Shades” and “Diary” (featuring Marsha Ambrosius doing her best Michael Jackson impersonation), Wale’s remarkably candid thoughts on race and relationships are sincere and profound.  I was initially disappointed by “TV in the Radio,” on which K’Naan at first seems to absolutely steal the show, but after repeated listens, Wale’s clever punch-line laden verse (on whack emcees: “It’s utterly baloney / so I’m Muslim to these rappers”) is growing on me.

Less impressive are “Let it Loose” and “Chillin,” the Lady Gaga collaboration Wale made to appease his label:

Attention Deficit’s beats are similarly varied.  Spanning saccharine commercialism (“90210”), grimy funk (the excellent “Mirrors” featuring Bun B) and an homage to go-go (the irresistible “Pretty Girls”), the album is nothing if not sonically diverse.  The beats are also more complex and polished than most of the beats on Wale’s mixtapes – an obvious benefit, I suppose, of having money to spend on big-name producers like Mark Ronson, The Neptunes and Cool and Dre.

Reaction to Attention Deficit has been generally favourable so far.  Metacritic, for example, has it pegged at 77 based on 11 reviews.  I tend to agree: the album is certainly no classic, but its successes outweigh its failures, and it boasts enough solid hip-hop tunes to ensure multiple listens.  Wale’s creativity and willingness to branch out are a welcomed and refreshing break from the predictability of the hip-hop mainstream.  Ultimately, Attention Deficit is a flawed but promising debut, its occasional poor decisions tempered by flashes of raw talent and potential, and it mostly lives up to Wale’s carefully-cultivated reputation.

Buy Attention Deficit on Amazon or iTunes.

Listen to: “TV in the Radio” featuring K’Naan (courtesy of Surviving the Golden Age), “Mirrors” featuring Bun B and “Diary” featuring Marsha Ambrosius (courtesy of Culture Bully).

Music

Analog Giant: Wale featuring Lady Gaga video.

Analog Giant, a blog I tend to like for the most part, posted this monstrosity of a video.  To be fair to them, they didn’t endorse it at all.

This is a Wale and Lady Gaga collabo.  I think my head just snapped thinking about it.

Up until this point I’ve been a fan of Wale.  He’s been a pretty good performer and adventurous, to boot.  He put out the Mixtape about Nothing a while back, which was a Seinfeld-based rap album.

This is too far.  It’s almost like he’s trying to be Kanye.  Maybe it was meant to be ironic?  I can only hope so.

Music

Wale’s video from “The Mixtape about Nothing”

Wale is an artist who we’ve covered many times before,

The Mixtape About Nothing is a pretty dope concept for an album.  As we’ve noted, it’s a hip hop mixtape inspired by Seinfeld.  Tons of little samples taken from the show, along with some solid rhyming.

The first video is out, called “My Integrity”.

Music

Wale’s ‘Mixtape About Nothing’ drops (Free Download)

For those of you who’ve been paying attention, we’ve been hyping up Wale for a little while now.

Wale has been working on a Seinfield-inspired mixtape, amusingly called the “Mixtape about Nothing“.  I haven’t given it a listen yet, but it’s up and available for download thanks to Elitaste.

Click here to go download it.

Just to get an idea, here’s the tracklist:

TRACK LISTING
1. “The Opening Title Sequence” (produced by Best Kept Secret)
2. “The Roots Song Wale Is On” f. Chrisette Michele (produced by ?uestlove & James Poyser)
3. “The Feature Heavy Song” f. Bun B, Pusha T and Tre from UCB (produced by Best Kept Secret)
4. “The Freestyle (Roc Boys)”
5. “The Perfect Plan” (produced by Best Kept Secret)
6. “The Kramer” (produced by Best Kept Secret)
7. “The Crazy” (produced by Best Kept Secret)
8. “The Vacation From Ourselves” (produced by Best Kept Secret)
9. “The Remake of A Remake (All I Need)” f. Tawiah (produced by Mark Ronson)
10. “The Grown Up” (produced by Best Kept Secret)
11. “The Manipulation” (produced by Best Kept Secret)
12. “The Artistic Integrity” (produced by Best Kept Secret)
13. “The Star”
14. “The Skit (Untz Untz)”
15. “The Cliche Lil Wayne Feature (It’s The Remix baby!)” (produced by Osinachi)
16. “The Bmore Club Slam” (produced by Scottie B)
17. “The Chicago Falcon Remix” f. The Budos Band (produced by Mark Ronson & Eli Escobar)
18. “The Hype” (produced by Best Kept Secret)
19. “The End Credits” (produced by Best Kept Secret)

[Source: Okayplayer]

Music

Wale = Saviour Of Hip-Hop?

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past year, or you just recently decided to give the whole internet thing a shot and this is the first website you’ve ever visited, you’ve heard about Wale. Even 4080 is on the ball when it comes to this dude; check out an earlier post Angry wrote about Wale’s upcoming Seinfeld mixtape project, the Mixtape About Nothing.

So why all the hype? Well, if you believe CMJ, it’s because, like the “recent line of Commons, Kanye Wests and Lupe Fiascos,” the Washington D.C.-based rapper has the potential to “straddle the line between mainstream and indie rap.” By fusing the up-tempo, effervescent funk of D.C.’s go-go movement with clever, punch-line laden rhymes and covers of current hits, Wale does indeed appeal to a broad audience. Indie hipsters love him for his remixes (Wale’s rhymed over Lilly Allen’s “Smile“, Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” and Justice’s hit “D.A.N.C.E.” as well as hip-hop classics like Common’s “The Light” and Ghostface’s “Daytona 500”) and hip-hop heads are going bananas for his ridiculous raps (“Good rappers ain’t eatin, they Olsen twinnin'”). To date Wale has released three mixtapes, all of which continue to receive love from music blogs of every stripe. 

As a result of his success and subsequent exposure, Wale gained the attention of several record labels. In April, he signed a record deal with producer Mark Ronson’s Allido Records, whose albums are distributed by Interscope. The question now is whether Wale can translate his underground popularity into mainstream success.  Deprived of the ability to cover current hits, will he still appeal to heads outside of the DMV (the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area)? I hope so.

In the meantime, check out some of Wale’s best tracks, including his guest appearance on The Roots’ new album Rising Down.

Wale – W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E. (100 Miles and Running, 2007)

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45 King vs. Wale – P.Y.R.A.M.I.D. (Sammy Bananas Mix) (?, 2008)

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The Roots ft. Wale & Chrisette Michele – Rising Up (Rising Down, 2008)

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To download all 3 Wale mixtapes, visit Werd 2 Big Bird.

Music

Wale reveals details of ‘Seinfeld’ mixtape

D.C. native Wale (pronounced Wall-ay) is supposed to be the next big thing in hip-hop. A quick youtube search provides a bunch of his videos, and I have to say it’s not entirely my style. No matter what, I guess you have to admit that he does have some talent. Check out the freestyle below.

Plus, he earns major points for his upcoming project. The aptly-titled “Mixtape about nothing” is inspired by Seinfeld. He’s a big fan of the show, and seems to want to incorporate it into his music. Apparently he even managed to coax Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine, to those who don’t know) to come out and record a little skit for an interlude. Now that is dedication.

Keep an eye out for this one. It may actually be good.

Music

Little Brother Release First Single from Last Album

El bee's curtain call

Little Brother has released “Curtain Call,” the first single from their forthcoming and final album, LeftBack.  The track features a rad ’80s sample, embellished with synth drum fills and a smooth bass line.  Lyrically, “Curtain Call” has got to be one of their finest efforts.  It’s littered with the kind of witty punch lines and awesome references (“Not even Clarissa could explain it all”(!)) that make the best hip-hop joints worth re-listening to.  And it shows how far Rapper Big Pooh and Phonte have come as emcees; they’re definitely at the top of their game, and it’s a shame we won’t get to hear them together any longer.

But my favourite part of the track comes at the end, when Phonte passes the torch on to the next generation of Little Brothers*.  Here’s hoping the cats he names, including Tanya Morgan, J Electronica, Wale and others, can fill their shoes.

DOWNLOAD: Little Brother – Curtain Call

(via NahRight)

*And bringing harmony to the universe: the group originally named themselves Little Brother because musically, they thought of themselves as the younger siblings of “Tribe, De La, P.E.”

Music

Timbaland announces his retirement from hip-hop

In a recent interview with MTV, Timbaland announced he is leaving hip-hop.  Apparently, he’s switching genres to satisfy his fans, most of whom are more likely to listen to Madonna or John Mayer than Nas or Jay-Z.  As he explained to MTV:

“After my last album, I know where my bread and butter is at.  I know 75 percent [of the people who buy my album] are women who love Timbaland and most are the women who watch ‘Desperate Housewives’ and all those others. I did this research. It’s the women who watch ‘Sex and the City,’ ‘Desperate Housewives’ — all the real go-to-the-bar women like Timbaland, and mostly European women. It lets me know that my fanbase is mostly women and they are from all cultures. So it’s not a person who loves mostly hip-hop. It’s a person who loves everything besides hip-hop.”

At least he’s being honest.  Plus, Timbaland’s been churning out radio-friendly pop jams for a minute now, so I doubt his musical transition will be a radical one.

Anyways, to commemorate his departure, here’s Wale freestyling over a Timbaland beat, courtesty of 2dopeboyz: Wale – Say Something (freestyle)

Awareness

Street Cred is no longer what it used to be…thankfully

I remember the days when the big beefs were settled in a crazy violent and bloody way.  The days when 2Pac and Biggie’s insults actually got people killed.  In those days, rappers were going to jail for serious crimes, crazy drug charges and all kinds of assaults.  Everyone was doing time, and everyone’s albums were selling like hotcakes.

I mean think about it.  Snoop Dogg, now one of the mellowest and most commercial dudes you’ll meet was a member of the Crips, was charged (and acquitted) as an accessory in someone’s murder.  Pac had been shot before he was murdered.  Biggie used to sling rock.

But my how things have changed.  With rappers today, the level of animosity is lower, and thankfully so is the level of violence.  I mean, 50 Cent grew up with some grit, and is the closest thing to a gangster in the game today.  But even he is now more into reality TV and vitamin water than in any sort of revenge.  And yes, I am happy about that.

The news is still full of rappers getting in trouble for all kinds of things.  Only now it’s just as often for tax evasion as it is for dope possession.  It’s an interesting new world we live in.  Take these two recent stories for example.  Lil’ Wayne and Kanye West, two of the biggest names in the game today have been getting up to no good.

Pitchfork, the venerable mainstay of indy music culture has run a few stories lately on the legal trouble of these wunderkinds.  We’ll start with Lil’ Wayne.

Kanye, on the other hand, has again shown his badassness by breaking the cameras of some paparazzi at the LA airport back in September.  Ooooh.  And yes, he’s doing time.  Hard time.  Community Service time.  Honestly, I wouldn’t dare beef with this kid anymore.  Not if he’s going to break my camera or my iPod generic mp3 player.  Though really, how scared can you be of a guy who routinely posts about fashion he finds cool?  Now, I’m not entirely hating on him, I have mad respect for anyone who isn’t afraid to embrace what the love.  It’s just hard to compare a guy like that to classic rappers.  I mean just take a look:

kanyewestsunglasses 2pac-tupac

No contest.

At least Lil’ Wayne manned up a bit.  This kid just got arrested on charges of gun possession.  That’s a throwback to old days, but Wayne never intended to use it.  He just got caught with it after the cops raided his bus because it smelled like weed.  That has to be a little bit of a burn.

Even worse, he’s just gotten sued for not having paid a guy for providing what Pitchfork has called “generic mafioso interlude dialogue”.  Basically, Wayne hired a guy to make random mafia-like statements in an Italian accent, then hasn’t paid him yet.  Gangsta.

In all seriousness, despite how much I like to rag on these guys, I’m kind of glad to see the game change in this way.  It’s good to see the lighter side of hip hop and that these people don’t always have to take themselves so seriously.  And I abhor violence at all costs.  It’s just fascinating to me to see how much the power structure of the game has changed.  It used to be that guys like Pac and Biggie would run the streets and make decisions.

Now it’s the suits and the bling and the fashion.  It’s duets with Lady Gaga and interruptions on MTV.  This for sure is not one of those “hip hop is dead” posts, because as 4080 has repeatedly shown, it’s alive and thriving in a million unexpected places.  There’s tons of dope music being put out, some even by the very same corporate rappers that I’ve been hating on.  But one thing that is true, the very nature of the struggle is different.  It’s not to be heard, it’s to get paid.  Your street cred comes from the endorsement deals and fashion you inspire, not from getting down and dirty in the streets.

[Update: Apparently NPR had this same idea for a story, but came to a different conclusion. This is what they say:

If you listen to Lil Waynes music, you believe he was campaigning for a prison conviction, and he got elected. What do fans say? MTV says fans think Lil Waynes time behind bars wont hurt his career. Of course, not. Its the fans themselves that encouraged these federally-funded vacations. It seems rappers who ram about the streets in criminal activity feel the need to have prison sentences on their rap resume. Think 50 Cents to T.I., Beanie Siegel to Gucci Mane, its as though rappers are interviewing for the possession of reenlisting rap, and fans make the choice. And theyre less impressed by a rappers ability to simply recite provocative rants. Oh, it says here you spent three years at San Quentin Correctional Facility for a weapons possession. Welcome aboard.

Quite frankly, that’s bullshit.  I think that most fans these days, especially of rappers like Lil Wayne, don’t expect him to be gangster or to have that traditional rep.  Maybe someone like 50 in his early days, who was building his credibility on a gritty life story, but not Lil Wayne.

Its time to remove these mandatory requirements from a rappers resume. We need to stop encouraging and validating the lawlessness. Stop buying the albums. And as far as rappers excusing themselves as musical actors of sorts, just playing characters, Im calling cut.

Again, people are buying Wayne’s albums regardless of if he’s in jail or not.  Why? I’m not sure.  But they are.  Perhaps I’m just being jaded, but I simply don’t see this as boosting his career in the same way that a duet with Lady Gaga does.  That just shows how far the game has hanged.]

Featured Music

4080Records’ Summer Mix

Summer – the season of barbecues, waves, blue skies, beers on patios, packed clubs, and long weekends.  Thoughts of summer are invariably positive, and no other season evokes eidetic responses of similar intensity.  Part of what makes summer so emotionally salient is music.  Dope rhymes and a head-nodding beat are the perfect complement to all the moods of summer: mellow evenings watching the sun set; fast-paced, hedonistic nights at the club; insouciant days at the beach – good music improves them all. On our summer mix we’ve tried to include music for all of summer’s occasions.  We’ve thrown in some laid back, chill tracks (DL Incognito’s “90 Degrees” is perfect for loungin’ to on a balcony on a warm summer evening), as well as some classic bangers that will have the entire neighbourhood dancing at your next barbecue (Ice Cube’s “Check Yo Self” remix and ODB’s “Brooklyn Zoo”).

Download the mix below and make summer ’08 a season to remember.

DL Incognito – 90 Degrees
Little Brother – The Way You Do It
Aceyalone & RJD2 – Fire
ODB – Shimmy Shimmy Ya
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Summertime
AZ – Superstar
Common – The People ft. Dwele
ODB – Brooklyn Zoo
The Pharcyde – Runnin’
Jay-Z – Show Me What You Got
Ice Cube – Check Yo Self (Remix)
Moka Only – Search
A Tribe Called Quest – Jam
DJ Tonk – All Come Back ft. Deux Process
Jay-Z – Feelin’ It ft. Mecca
Notorious B.I.G. – Sky’s The Limit ft. 112
Bob Marley – Jamming
Ahmad – Back In The Day
Slum Village – Get Dis Money
Hi-Tek – Breakin’ Bread
The Roots – Rising Up ft. Wale & Chrisette Michele
Souls Of Mischief – 93 ‘Til Inifinity
People Under The Stairs – Montego Slay
Slum Village – Oncce Upon A Time
Outkast – Player’s Ball
People Under The Stairs – Acid Raindrops ft. Camel MC
Masta Ace – Beautiful
DJ Honda – Travellin’ Man ft. Mos Def

Download here.