Maybach Music Group/Warner Bros.
Release Date: November 1, 2011
When it comes to Wale, it is pretty much a mixed response to him as an artist overall. Some find him extremely talented, others find him a complete bore. Whatever one’s case may be, Mr. Folarin is one of the forerunners of the new generation of artist amongst the Drakes, Big Seans & J. Coles. After signing with Rick Ross’s (Bawse!) Maybach Music Group (Maybach Music *Girl Voice*) back in February 2011, Wale’s mainstream presence has increased considerably since the “mixtape fame”. Although Folarin did release an album in Attention Deficit nearly 2 years ago, it did not receive the response that some may have expected given his history and situation. And even though Attention Deficit was positively reviewed, it has yet to eclipse the 100K mark to date.
Fast forward 2 years, and the DC-native is releasing his sophomore album in #Ambition. Wale has expressed how he had to come back from the first album flop, hence the name of this project, #Ambition. After crashing file sharing site Hulkshare (Wale is the first mainstream artist to officially do so) in the first 4 seconds of posting the link to his mixtape, The Eleven One Eleven Theory (Download HERE), signs show that #Ambition is highly anticipated. Wale, who “put his heart and soul into this album”, is excited that he can make music on his terms in this situation with MMG/Warner Bros. With this favorable situation, let’s see how The Foampositer (I birthed this word) fares on his latest release, #Ambition.
1. “Don’t Hold Your Applause” (Produced by Tone P)
First off, “Don’t Hold Your Applause” is an excellent way to start off a project. This is a triumphant track of victory. Feel wise, it kind of reminds me of “Mama Told Me” (from Attention Deficit). On “Don’t Hold Your Applause”, Wale is simply stating that he says he deserves the applause, the praise, the admiration…all as a result of his hardwork, or better yet, his #Ambition. If one knows the story behind the whole Roc Nation/Attention Deficit release & the ish Wale went through to get to this point, then one will recognize that this record is very fitting. As Folarin says, “it took Hades to see”. Superb introductory track.
2. “Double M Genius” (Produced by Mark Henry)
From the title of the track, “Double M Genius”, one can only assume that this is not a modest record. Wale uses this jazz-laced track to talk his ish. For example, the line: “They say I need some guidance, but I think they need a stylist”. Even at the record’s beginning, Wale states that he feels that he is one of the best of this class. Agree? “Double M Genius” is Braggadocio at its finest.
3. “Miami Nights” (Produced by Mark Henry)
“Miami Nights” is not only the name of the LeBrons in which Wale sports, but also the name of a record created as a result of his time with The Bawse in Miami and the somewhat “lifestyle shock” Wale experienced. It was all a dream; first class errthing. Producer Mark Henry provides Wale with a headbanger, sort of reminicent of “Roc Boys” (Jay-Z), with the tempo and live instruments or whatnot. If you’ve ever been to Miami (specifically Ocean Drive in South Beach) at night or have even seen it, this record feels like that. I can definitely see a video for this one.
4. “Legendary” (Produced by DJ Toomp)
This record is a direct indication of the Wale’s apirations. “Legendary” discusses the keys to becoming legendary as well as the baggage that comes along with it. While not a standout track, Wale does drop some gems on this one. Also, the scratching is a nice touch to send the record out. “F–k fame, F–k money”, Wale is just trying to be legendary.
5. “Lotus Flower Bomb” featuring Miguel (Produced by Jerrin Howard)
The first official single from #Ambition enlists songster Miguel to serenade the ladies in a proper fashion on a smooth, laid-back ode to the female’s “lotus flower”. “Lotus Flower Bomb” is simply a grown & sexy record. I’m talking jazz club, NBA dress code, martini drinking, J puffing on this one. You might gotta go get you some Scooby Doo’s. Jerrin Howard also provides a nice beat to combine with the other elements to make a solid record.
6. “Chain Music” (Produced by Tone P)
Nice beat + heavy bass + catchy hook = One not being able to help but rock to this joint. Whether intentional or not, you will be nodding your head. “Chain Music” is definitely a great club/riding record. “Chain so big can’t pop my collar!”
7. “Focused” featuring Kid Cudi (Produced by Kore)
On #Ambition’s second single, Kid Cudi & Wale have reconciled their differences to team up to make an absolutely magnificent record in “Focused”. While keeping the overall theme of ambition, or having that drive, “Focused” has great crossover potential. It’s sort of like a pop “Go Hard” (Kanye & T-Pain). As you can tell by the voice in your head, I absolutely love this joint. The video should be dope.
8. “Sabotage” featuring Lloyd (Produced by Cloudeater)
On this track, Wale enlists Lloyd, who is somewhat of a poor man’s Michael Jackson, to join him on this groovy, cognac-smooth love record. The production provided by Atlanta band Cloudeater gives it kind of an Earth Wind & Fire feel, with the combination of live guitars, horns & drums or whatnot. Although not a bad record overall, I unapologetically state that the production is definitely the standout portion of this joint; hands down, Cloudeater did their thing.
9. “White Linen (Coolin’)” featuring Ne-Yo (Produced by Deputy)
When I heard the record, I immediately got an all white affair feel, and ironically, this joint entitled “White Linen (Coolin’)” and appropriately so. “White Linen (Coolin’)” gives me a feel of a more upbeat “Ashton Martin Music” (Rick Ross). Add Ne-Yo to the hook and we have a nice little joint. Oh yeah, and I love the bassline on this record.
10. “Slight Work” featuring Big Sean (Produced by Diplo)
On one of the more uptempo joints of #Ambition, “Slight Work” makes for a boastful dance joint produced by Philadelphia DJ and producer, Diplo. G.O.O.D. Music flagship artist Big Sean (“Boi”), who makes a fantastic feature, shines on this track as he usually does on these type of joints. Nicki [Minaj] would have probably been a good look on this one too.
11. “Ambition” featuring Meek Mill and Rick Ross (Produced by T-Minus)
This was one of the few records Wale played at the #Ambition listening party about a month ago. If you can recall from the event review (which you can read HERE), I wrote that I knew immediately that it was a banger. This record gives me what I call “screw face” or “ugly face”, which basically means I am enjoying the record. The grimey, yet dreamlike, ambient sound of the record, courtesy of T-Minus, evokes emotion as track’s participants speak upon their respective come-ups as well the ambition behind overcoming the obstacles along the way. Meek Mill went in (you would’ve thought he had a curfew), Rawse (“Ungh”) bawsed the track around & Wale stood strong in his Foamposites. The production of the project’s title track and third single is sort of remiscient of a more somber “She Will” (Lil Wayne), which was also produced by T-Minus. To sum it all up, #Ambition is a simply dope record.
12. “Illest B—h” (Prodcued by Tha Bizness)
Contrary to the use of the word “b—h”, “Illest B—h” is actually an uplifting record for the females. This is a solid, encouraging track. Towards the record’s ending, Wale kills ‘em with some poetry and then lets the brilliant beat, provided by Tha Bizness, ride. Nice.
13. “No Days Off” (Produced by DJ Toomp)
High cymbals, the hard hitting snare, low-synth chords…this joint has Toomp written all over it; however, this particular Toomp track and Wale combination did not really mesh well. The hook was ehh and the track just seemed to drag on. I mean, it’s an okay record, but #Ambition probably could have done without it. Maybe he should’ve gotten The Bawse on it. But I digress…
14. “DC or Nothing” featuring Sam Dew of Cloudeater (Produced by Tone P)
Although it is not technically the last track, I do consider this joint #Ambition’s finale (“That Way” is actually the last record). In this ode to his city, Washington, DC, Wale gets the deepest on this record as he has on the entire project. From politics to urban renewal to drugs in the hood to betrayal to aids to friend loss, Wale expresses his thoughts on them all. “DC or Nothing” feels like a movie’s ending credits score. Definitely a great way to close out the project.
15. “That Way” featuring Rick Ross and Jeremih (Produced by Lex Luger)
“That Way”, which also appeared Maybach Music Group’s Self Made Vol. 1, is a very solid record and it only made sense to place it on this project as well. Although on “That Way” does appears on #Ambition, it functions more-so as a bonus track, which is why I stated that the prior record, “DC or Nothing”, is #Ambition’s finale). Many people did not even know “That Way” existed until it was released as a single, because they did not hear the MMG project, therefore many assumed this was from Wale’s new project anyhow. As I stated on my review of Self Made Vol. 1 (which you can read HERE), I was VERY surprised upon disovering that Lex Luger produced the record, because this is a completely different sound from the Lex Luger that we are used to; it is very refreshing to hear Lex’s versatility.
16. “Bait” (Produced by Tone P) [BONUS]
This is a “DC record” as Wale states in the opening line. While not necessarily a rememberable record, seeing that it is a bonus track, I won’t really give it too much merit; a decent record nonetheless.
I was a little skeptical and confused at Wale’s signing to Maybach Music at first. I was also kind of tough on Wale in my review of Self-Made; it just seemed like an odd fit for the poet on the street heavy label. However, after seeing the movement and hearing this project, I see that MMG was a good fit. The move has made him more rounded thus giving him a wider appeal. Not sure if it was the situation he was in before label-wise or if he has grown as an artist (probably some of both), but I will confidently go on the record and state that #Ambition is better than Attention Deficit, which was a decent project in itself. Wale, whose wordplay is definitely his best asset, has shown improvement in other areas they he may have considerably “lacked” in. On #Ambition, Folarin offers a great balance of subject matters and “vibes” throughout the project. There is also an overall positive theme of perseverance throughout #Ambition, which I dig. I gave #Ambition a score of 8.56 out of 10 overall. Although I would not consider myself the biggest Wale fan by any means, I am thoroughly satsified that I invested my money and time in this album; I encourage you all to do the same.
Standout Tracks: “Don’t Hold Your Applause”, “Miami Nights”, “Chain Music”, “Focused”, “Ambition”, “That Way”
*Note: According to Hip-Hop DX, Wale sold just under 164K units in the first week. Congrats!*
Peep Wale’s #Ambition concert at the Highline Ballroom in NYC. Special appearances by Rick Ross & the entire Maybach Msuic Group, Ne-Yo, French Montana, Trey Songz, Gunplay, Torch, Funkmaster Flex, Miss Info, and many more.
Wale is currently on his #Ambition Tour. You can view the schedule HERE. The tour date for Atlanta is December 8, 2011 (Thursday) at The Tabernacle at 8:00 PM. Tickets are $20, which you can purchase HERE.
Also, check out this article over on Business Insider entitled ”A CAUTIONARY RAP TALE: How Wale Went From Mixtape Darling To Commercial Dud” by Kevin Lincoln who goes in pretty tough on Wale. Although, I feel it was tad bit much, it is a pretty good read. Read HERE
I’d love to hear your thoughts/opinions on the review, the project, or Wale in general, feel free to leave comments below or hit me up on Twitter HERE