wale

WALE: The Mixtape About Nothing

 

 

It was almost a decade ago that Jeru released “Seinfeld,” a stream of consciousness track ostensibly about “nothing” while simultaneously commenting on the vacuity in Hip-Hop. Wale gloriously raises the stakes with The Mixtape About Nothing (10 Deep / Black Swan Wines), a full-length inspired by, and sampling from, the show that’s on constant repeat for the D.C. native.

 

Nothing not only raises the bar for mixtapes, but is better constructed than most “official” albums you’ll hear this year. For a mixtape allegedly about nothing, Wale skillfully samples bits from the show and its actors—George championing artistic integrity on “The Artistic Integrity,” Michael Richards’ infamous racist meltdown on “The Kramer”—to bolster his respective themes.

 

On Nothing, Wale combines clever punchlines (“In this game, sidekicks don’t make it / Only good for a year like a Sidekick pager”) and astute social commentary (His take on race relations and the n-word on “The Kramer.”) that should get his name out from the underground and onto the main stage.

 

Production wise, most of the beats are left to Best Kept Secret, who runs the sonic range from playful (The Seinfeld-theme-song-sampling “The Opening Title Sequence”) to soulful (“The Hype”). While the beats are consistently engaging in their own right, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Nothing is solidly sequenced; with Wale and company sticking to the theme, yet knowing when to intuitively drop a recognizable beat (“Roc Boys,” Roots’ “Star,”) a go-go beat or whatever else is needed to keep things flowing.

 

Nothing is not perfect. A skit with a record label A&R convincing Wale to hop on a new trend, for example, sounds tired and dated. But that’s like getting mad at a good meal because you didn’t like the plate. Overall, Wale didn’t simply craft one of the best mixtapes of the year. With lyrical and sonic versatility and thematic coherence both entertaining and thoughtful, he dropped one of the best albums period.

 

WALE

“The Opening Title Sequence”

 

WALE

“The Kramer”

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