Label: MMG/Warner Records Based out of our nation’s capi tal of Washington, D.C., Wale is one of Hip Hop’s more sensi tive rappers (made evident by the dozen roses he’s holding on his album cover). According to him, he deserves to be mentioned amongst the best rappers of the last decade and feels he doesn’t get the proper respect he deserves. Does he have a case? Well, he is the only rapper ever to get Jerry Seinfeld on his album, so that has to count for something.
Now he’s back for this new de cade with his new album “Folarin II.” With features from J. Cole, Chris Brown, Yella Beezy, Jamie Foxx, and others, how well does it fair in a year of already stacked albums?
Wale has often been compared to the perfect blend of rapper and spoken word poet. He’s not going to switch up his flow too much, nor is he going to bombard you with multi-coupled rhyme schemes. However, the wordplay is still his strong point. Take for example a line on “Name Ring Bell”:
“They say I got an ego, I de serve an EGOT”
On the surface it’s an unassum ing line, but since it’s Wale, it’s obvious this is a response to how he has complained in the past about being snubbed for a Gram my. Here he’s saying he deserves not only a Grammy, but Emmy, Oscar, and Tony awards? Sensi tive as he is, one thing Wale is not lacking is confidence.
Although there are some catchy lines here and there, the first two tracks are rather under whelming. The beats are also so indistinguishable they almost sound like one long song. Luck ily, Wale finally delivers with the third track, “Poke It Out,” which is easily the best song on the al bum. It samples the classic Q-Tip song, “Vivrant Thing”.
It’s a twerk song about girls with flat butts. Wale is encourag ing girls that aren’t blessed with ample…say… assets…as other girls to stick it out and poke it out anyway. If this wasn’t enough to solidify it as the crown jewel of this album, J. Cole is also fea tured on the track, and delivers the best verse of the entire album (as he normally does with his fea tures).
“Turn around I wanna see… Do it look like how it look on IG?
Bad from every angle she got herself a trainer…
Cole World and Folarin co starring
We both flexing Bo Jacksons, bogarting…
My latest whip, my latest chick was both foreign.”
J. Cole then reaffirms the la dies listening that he wants to see it whether you’re Meg Thee Stallion or Coi Leray.
How in the world this song hasn’t already become the biggest sensation on TikTok? I have no idea.
Unfortunately, after a few more
lackluster tracks, we finally find a bright spot with “Fluctuate”. The beat caters to Wale’s spoken word background with more of a live band sound than the synthesized sound we’ve heard up to this point. The song has a simple con
cept centering around when those in your circle’s feelings towards you waver or fluctuate. The entire song has an undeniable vibe, and I would
love to see DJs pick up this song for any of their more laidback playlists.
We go from the almost manda tory Rick Ross feature to what seems like the biggest single from the album, ”Angles”. Fea turing Chris Brown, it’s a no brainer how it became so popular since Breezy doesn’t miss on fea tures. The song seems to tackle communication problems in re lationships, or how both parties are working an “angle” instead of being honest with their feelings. Of course, it’s also about women who mastered camera angles while posing for selfies, but that just means the song works on multiple levels.
The very next track, “Dearly Beloved,” is Wale delivering eas ily his best bars on the album. While it credits Jamie Foxx as a feature, it feels more like he was sampled from one of his earlier songs. There aren’t any drums on the track; it’s just Wale telling an ex on her wedding day that he’s not over her. He’s also criticiz
ing her by saying that she’s just settling with her husband over pressure from her family, but he admits that it never would have worked between them. It’s a very personal song, and every guy has that “one that got away” who they will instantly visualize in their head when listening to this song.
After a few more so-so tracks, Wale steps outside the box with “Down South”. Sampling Mike Jones’ “Still Tippin’” with a hook that was made famous by Master P, the entire song is a love letter to southern Hip Hop. Although Wale gets an “A” for effort, he still delivers the weakest verse on the song. Luckily, he has ac tual Texas rappers Yella Beezy and Maxo Kream to pick up his slack. Both bring the energy needed from this type of track that Wale’s laid back style sim ply can’t deliver.
Although I can see controver sy coming from the “Crip killed Nipsey Hustle” line, but we’ll see in due time.
Wale is an acquired taste, but he also has a long time hardcore fan base. Many times on this al bum he steps outside of his com fort zone. But when he goes back to basics is when he’s at his best. It’s a very uneven album with quite a few tracks feeling like filler and most of the guest fea tures outshining him. However, there are also some undeniable bangers on here that may even be strong enough to overshadow the weaker tracks.
Disclaimer: Select lyrics from Wale’s album will be fea tured in the online version of this article.