This isn't how it was supposed to happen. Wale was supposed to soar for an eternity. With all the planetary bodies aligned in his favor, his buzz would surely catapult him to unfathomable heights. His 2008 street album, A Mixtape About Nothing, was the talk of the town. MTV recruited him as musical host for the 2009 VMAs, giving him ample exposure. Jay-Z signed him to a Roc Nation management deal and made him an opening act on his Blueprint 3 Tour. The most popular pop artist in America graced his first single. Simply put, Wale was coasting with no sign of slowing down. Then his debut album tanked. Despite the heavy promotion and media blitz, Wale’s eagerly awaited debut, Attention Deficit (Allido/Interscope), only managed a measly 28,000 units in its first week. What went wrong?
More About Nothing is Wale's attempt to answer those lingering questions, as well as his rebuttal to critics who held a premature funeral for his career. This mixtape suggests that the 9 months of backlash that followed Attention Deficit morphed into a period of rebirth for Wale. He’s tougher, wiser, and more focused than he’s been in a while.
Sure, Wale is still a bit defensive about the flop. He's still pointing fingers at everyone but the man in the mirror: someone picked the wrong single, the label undershipped his CDs, critics won't give him his props ("I'm on top of my game but these n---as won't acknowledge it"). But that's a hip-hop thing. All in all, frustration motivates Wale to go back to basics and prove his mettle all over again. More About Nothing isn't perfect, but it's a well-executed mixtape that reminds us why we paid attention to Wale in the first place.
At the end of the day, Wale remains a top-flight lyricist who made an bad album. It's not unheard of for good rappers to make bad albums. Proven wordsmiths like Ludacris and Jadakiss have made an entire career of middling records. Maybe album-making isn't Wale's specialty. Free from the constraints of industry shenanigans, though, he's is in peak form on this mixtape. Here's hoping that some of that mojo rubs off on Attention Deficit 2, which is due out later this year.
Release Date: August 3, 2010