Around the time Attention Deficit dropped, the idea of Wale being signed under Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group label was the thought of someone with a wild imagination. After much mainstream hype and underground acclaim, the DMV-representer went through somewhat of a dull period. Looking to rekindle the buzz he had just a couple of years ago, Ambition, Mr. Wale Folarin’s second effort, bears the signature Maybach tag. But, is that a good thing?
There are songs on this album that Wale couldn’t have made a year ago. His raunchy new label has given him the right-of-way, or perhaps the ego, to create more braggadocious records. “Legendary” is a prime example of this. Produced by DJ Toomp, the cocky snares and stirring horns sound tailor-made for a Rick Ross verse, and Wale’s big flow seems to support this. But he makes the record his own, with an intoxicating, nonchalant hook – “F*ck fame, f*ck money/And f*ck anything/Anyone can take from ya.” “Chain Music” is another one of these tracks, boasting heavy bass and a Rozay sample on the hook. And sure to hit a club near you, “Slight Work,” featuring a standout verse from Big Sean – “Under 25, living the f*cking life/White America said I’d be doing 25-to-life”- is egotistical line after egotistical line, in a good way.
But Wale is dope on his own accord, with tracks like “Don’t Hold Your Applause” and “Double M Genius” sounding more like typical Wale joints, but it’s clear his sound as changed – which works for and against him. “No Days Off” and “DC or Nothing” are inconsistent listens, but “Ambition” with Meek Mill and Rick Ross is a dope record. Two of the ‘girl’ songs, “Sabotage” and “White Linen (Coolin’)” featuring Lloyd and Ne-Yo, respectively, are average, but “Lotus Flower Bomb” with Miguel is a hit.
Overall, Ambition becomes an album of inconsistencies. As a rapper, Wale never dips with one-liners on each and every song, but as a song-maker there are peaks and valleys, as Folarin doesn’t have enough lines to salvage a tired subject. Individually, these tracks are all a pretty good listen, but through the course of the album’s flow, they begin to blend together instead of impress – which is why you’ll love a track on the first listen, but then might forget about it when you play it a week later. Remember a time when Washington, D.C.’s Go-Go influence served as a winning staple on just about every Wale song and project? This is nowhere to be found here. And yes, Ambition is a pretty decent album – but it won’t stick out the way his early mixtapes did. Is he “Focused” like Cudi says? Perhaps, but true Wale fans will look for more substance and clashing drums on his projects. At least you’ll have the wordplay to hold you over.