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 thats on constant repeat for the D.C. native.
Nothing not only raises the bar for mixtapes, but is better constructed than most official albums youll hear this year. For a mixtape allegedly about nothing, Wale skillfully samples bits from the show and its actorsGeorge championing artistic integrity on The Artistic Integrity, Michael Richards infamous racist meltdown on The Kramerto bolster his respective themes.
On Nothing, Wale combines clever punchlines (In this game, sidekicks dont 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 thats like getting mad at a good meal because you didnt like the plate. Overall, Wale didnt 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.
“The Opening Title Sequence”