In a summer where Hip-Hop has seen it’s fair share of major releases, it’s easy to overlook an album like Wale’s. While he may not of had the same amount of hype going into his latest album as some of his other rap peers, the MMG artist was determined to leave his stamp on the summer. With his third album The Gifted, not only did he set out to further establish his current standing in the game, but to also cement his place as one of the “New Legends” of Hip-Hop.
Describing the sound of this album as “New Black Soul”, Wale sets the tone for project early. From the very beginning you understand his descriptions of the album, as the overall production is filled with soulful sounds that could very well provide several must add songs to summer playlists. The best example of the direction he took with this album can be seen on he lead single “LoveHate Thing”. With an excellent Marvin Gaye sample, Wale spits thought provoking lyrics that are complimented by the vocals of Sam Dew on the chorus. The song is so well put together and arguably one of the best songs that he’s ever done, and certainly one of his better singles.
Keeping the “New Black Soul” vibe of the album going, “Heaven’s Afternoon” and “Sunshine” aren’t as infectious as “LoveHate Thing”, but are well crafted in their own right. “Gullible” featuring Cee-Lo Green proves to be a gem on the album, and finds Wale in a zone that makes one hope he sticks to this particular sound, as it’s certainly not like anything being played on the radio right now.
There is no denying that compared to his MMG label mates, Wale has always been seen as the more introspective member of the group. He certainly doesn’t do anything to change that perception, and the concepts he explores on this album come off good because of it. The unique approach he took with “Jesus Piece” will have listeners pleasantly surprised. “Clappers” finds the DMV native embracing his GoGo roots, and providing a potential club banger in the process.
While one could easily highlight everything good about this album, it definitely has its share of flaws. “Vanity” and “Simple Man” are filler tracks at best, and will more often than not be skipped over. While it’s obvious why Wale chose to include “Bad”, as it’s been playing on the radio for months, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a rather unimpressive song. Even more unimpressive than the song itself is the remix which features Rihanna. The big name feature is most likely what prompted the placing of the record, but the same can’t be said for “Bricks” With an uninspiring chorus from Lyfe Jennings and an uneventful guest verse from Yo Gotti will have you scratching your head more than anything else on this song.
It should be noted that the biggest flaw of the album is the sequencing itself. Despite being lyrically sound, Wale’s mic presence doesn’t always keep your attention. In fact there are plenty of times he loses you completely, and not because the song is necessarily bad, but more so because it comes across as boring. “Lovehate Thing” followed by “Sunshine” and “Heaven’s Afternoon” will have you forcing yourself to maintain interest, despite them all being good songs individually. “Black Heroes” isn’t the worst song to close an album out on, but the fact that the comedic outro featuring Jerry Seinfield is more interesting than the song tells you how forgettable the track is.
Of course when Wale does hit one out the park, the brilliance of the song is undeniable. “88” is proof of that, as Just Blaze provides the perfect soundscape for Wale to let loose. Though he certainly isn’t being looked at as the MJ of the rap game as the track would imply, when it comes to obscure sports references Wale is the undisputed scoring champ there.
Coming into this album there really wasn’t a clear indication of what to expect. Not a classic by any means, this album is still Wale’s most well rounded to date. His progression as an artist is evident, and his ability to craft songs that don’t sound like anything else out right now further adds to that. Unfortunately it’s his uncreative flow and questionable song placements that truly hurt the cohesion of this album. Despite those setbacks it’s clear that Wale definitely has the potential to create an amazing body of work, and can be satisfied knowing that The Gifted as a whole is a project that listeners should by all means invest in.
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