This guy may just really be the next best thing coming out of D.C. since E.U. with "Da Butt."
Wale tirelessly puts it on for his city and for those that need convincing probably also need industrial Q-tips for their ears. Obubowale "Wale" Florain first rose to prominence in 2006 with his heavy demand through Myspace and the insider music industry. Mixing the elements of Go-Go's percussion and clever- yet rather entertaining metaphoric wordplay, Wale brought a cool breeze of fresh air to the Hip-Hop game.
After numerous fresh mixtapes, Wale had the pleasure of being one of the few '08 Freshmen Class students to actually release an album. Attention Deficit became a highly underrated album that likely was a victim of the retail dilemma facing the music industry.
AllHipHop.com had the chance to talk to Wale on a tour stop in North Carolina and he
AllHipHop.com: For people who fail to know, tell us who Wale is?
Wale: The most vague... AllHipHop did a "First 48" with me, I think they know who I am. I'm a very emotional musician. I think the most emotional musicians are the most controversial for better or for worst- like 'Pac, Pac was very emotional. The Beetles- very emotional. Michael Jackson- very emotional. James Brown- very emotional. Public Enemy- very emotional. Outkast- very emotional. I think there's a certain negative connotation behind the word "emotional" now. I try to make my music interesting and keep everybody happy, but at the same time, I have a lot to say. I'm very passionate about what I do.
AllHipHop.com: I can agree with you when say you have a lot to say. Matter of fact, when it comes to your debut album Attention Deficit, a lot of people were complaining about it being under-shipped...
Wale: You know the funny thing is- I forgot what website it was, but the person wrote quote-unquote. The person who wrote it knew what it was. I didn't say I was going to 100,000, but I probably could have done 60,000.
AllHipHop.com: Exactly! Now that you mentioned that, do you blame the under shipment for your album sales?
Wale: It's one of the things I want to look back on. Everybody knows next time I can do 60,000 without a single. Because I did a single that was like whatever... some people liked it, some people didn't. The single peaked 99 on the top 100, but I still dropped an album seven months later. That's one of the most biggest accolades of my career. The fact that Interscope let me drop a album- that's reckless! A lot of people need a top 20 record. Interscope is still pushing me. I have three more videos to go. I'm one video in. One single in. We haven't done "Pretty Girls," we haven't done "90210"... I'm doing a video for everything.
AllHipHop.com: With the whole issue that went on with the album, did you expect such a huge demand from fans- especially through twitter?
Wale: It was killing me inside, it was killing me inside. We literally considered driving to places with a truck full of CDs. I'm not in it for the money. I don't care about the money, like not even a little bit. I can get my money any kind of way. I want people to be able to hear the music and be one of the people that they can connect with. You don't even have to call me the greatest. I just want you to be like "You know what, Wale might be a little hard to understand" or "He might be emotional about his music, but his music really touches me." That's all I want. F*ck that money young. That's why most of the time I do features for these artist and I don't charge. You'll be surprised how many n***as are like "I can work with you right now." Like word? I have a list. It can be long, short, it can be medium. I'm not going to express that but I have a list. If my fans believe in me, then they know what's going to happen second time around. Big single or not, they know, because my label is going to push out them albums. They know what's going to happen second time around. And when it goes down, I'm gon' be on that "Oh word?" I extended myself to everybody. There's people that I respect in this business- I'm not gon' throw them under the bus, I respect them, but it is what it is. Timbaland- meet him at Hit Factory, Cool & Dre- Cool & Dre went in... "I got em' I'm gon' work with you." Nothing. Kanye [West], this is a guy who I looked up to when I first came in. I respect him but that heroic "he's representing for people that's on that rise" is gone. My thing is I don't have hatred nor jealously on my heart. My Nigerian parent's are very religious, they don't believe in anything like that. But it is what it is. I mentioned to my mom that I feel like I'm in a battle by myself. That's cool because I'm the only one that has a sense of entitlement.
AllHipHop.com: One thing I like about the album is the versatility. When it comes to tracks like "90210,"Shades," or even "Mama Told Me," where does the inspiration for these subject manners come from?
Wale: "90210" is literally about people I seen. It could be a Paris Hilton, it could be double L [Lindsay Lohan]. I observe. I'm a n***a from D.C. and all I know is like U Street, Gaithersburg, Saratoga, and Largo. I know those areas in the DMV. Honestly, I didn't know Beverly Hills until I went there. And to be honest, a couple of my "90210" experiences took place in London. The blow and the nose bleeds, a lot of that took place in London. It's kind of sad because it's kind of my version of "All Falls Down." I'm from an urban environment. I've seen the girl who goes to school, comes back, and gets pregnant. But I think you have to leave home, with a bag full of paper and a pen, come back home, and tell your community what's going on. That's what "90210" is. I'm essentially talking to the people like "Yo, I went to this place. It's suppose to be so beautiful, so perfect, and I saw more flaws than our necessitous environments." That's why the last line says next time you go say that crazy sh*t about n*ggas, analyze what you do. A lot of these Hollywood women talks down on n*ggas on crack or n*ggas who flip cocaine to feed their families and pay bills, but ya'll out there sucking... doing blow and whatever to get on. Who's wrong in that? Is it the person who's sucking every d*ck to get on? Or the person who's selling some p*ssy here and there, or selling some weed to feed their kid? You want it for the fame so people can acknowledge your existence, I want it to feed my child. That's what "90210" is all about.
AllHipHop.com: I'm sure people are curious to know how did you hook up with Gucci Mane for "Pretty Girls?"
Wale: Gucci Mane was amazing. You have to understand you're talking about a guy who can connect with the whole urban environment... from jail. Do you understand the significance in that? When Hip-Hop first started, it was about the DJ and the party. Some way, people connect lyricism with Hip-Hop- that's only one element. Connecting with the people is more important. That's why you have to take your hat off to the "Soulja Boys" and the "Gucci Manes." They may not be the most lyrical like myself, Black Thought, Jay-Z, or Immortal Technique, Andre 3000, Wordsworth, Lupe Fiasco- amazing lyricist. But you have to respect what Gucci Mane and Soulja Boy do too- that's Hip-Hop! They want you to dance. You come to the party and you had two or three shots of Patron, all that intense stuff from throughout the day, let it go. You just want to enjoy what the f**k Hip-Hop is, and Hip-Hop is making you dance and want to have fun.
That girl you booked tonight in the club or that dude you meet in the club, you met him because of that Gucci Mane record or because of that Soulja Boy record. You met that other because of that sh*t. Not because some "just to get by." We love Talib, we love that song, but you did not meet that other because of that. "Get By" is what you hear in the morning getting ready for work or when your in your dorm room smoking that jay with your friends. "Get By" is what you hear when you're riding in your car talking about how great Hip-Hop is. But "Wasted" and "Photoshoot" is what you listen to in the club when you're trying to have fun. With me being raised in the go-go, I went to Backyard [Band] shows when I was 16,17 years old. They would bring Scarface up, they would bring Juvenile up, they'll bring UGK up, they'll bring Master P up. I'm showing love for the south. I have so much love for the south because they show us love. They show me love. I can do sell-out show at a club before I even had a record deal. You know I just think he kind of personifies and sets the tone for what I'm saying on the record. It is what it is. It's about having fun, partying. I listen to Gucci Mane. I'm a fan of his music. I think he did a good job. He really executed what he wanted to execute on this record.
AllHipHop.com: Since you're like the biggest artist to come out of D.C., do you feel like you have certain responsibility for the whole DMV area?
Wale: I don't really have no pressure or anything like that. This is my job, I just go to work and I just do what I have to do. I try not to get wrapped up in all that.
AllHipHop.com: How would you describe your sense of fashion? What are some of the latest threads you like to wear?
Wale: I'm not much of a label whore compared to other rappers. I just like what I like, whatever is comfortable. Obviously I like the upscale and the street-wear, but you know I just throw on a white-tee and be comfortable. Or a nice little jacket or whatever.
AllHipHop.com: UCB has been performing back-up for you for some time now, how did the whole collaboration begin? How does it feel to be touring with one if D.C.'s classic go-go bands?
Wale: I grew up listening to them. Once I was able to fund the band to tour, it was kind of a no brainer. That's the band that I used to go listen to the most. I'm personal friends with a couple people in the band anyways, so we had it hooked up like that.
AllHipHop.com: The DMV is currently under the radar as the next the area to takeover. Are there any of your fellow artist that you're currently looking out for?
Wale: I mean there's a lot. Every time I answer that question, somebody approach me in the club like "why didn't you mention me." That's how competitive it is. But Black Cobain Fat Trell, Southeast Slim, Phil Ade... there's a lot of people. It's very competitive.
AllHipHop.com: I'm aware you're Nigerian, but I was still surprised to hear African sampled in your music. So far I heard Fela Kuti and Bunny Mack within your work. What do you know about these artist?
Wale: I grew up in a Nigerian household, which is like second nature to me. Just like I grew up on Back Yard [Band], I grew up on Fela. It's just another part. Just like I can use go-go to rap on, I can use Africa beats to rap on as well.
AllHipHop.com: How would you say 2009 has been for you overall?
Wale: It's been a good year. A bit of a roller-coaster ride, but it has made me stronger. I'm like at the very peak beginning of my career so it's definitely going to be a year I always remember.
AllHipHop.com: What were your new years resolutions?
Wale: Just working on saying "No" more. I really say "Yes" too much.
AllHipHop.com: Since you've graduated out of your "Freshman Class," who would you nominate as the next upcoming Freshmens?
Wale: J. Cole, Fashawn... there's a lot of people, but those are the two people that kind of still have that fresh face and people are still unfamiliar with. I'm just drawing a blank right now.
AllHipHop.com: Is there anybody that you plan to work with for the 2010 year?
Wale: Nah man, I just like to work with the people who respond. It's a natural thing. I don't write a wish list of who I want to work with. I rather have it organically where it's whatever the music tells me. If I think a certain person will sound good on something, then you know. That's how I decide who I want to work with.
AllHipHop.com: So what's next for Wale?
Wale: This is going to be the year where I'm more focused on business just as much as music. I'm going to go back and do another album. I'm going to work this album because we haven't even scratched the surface of Attention Deficit. I think my fans deserve to hear more records that are commercially released. So we're going to do it like that. I'm going to dive into some other aspects of the entertainment world that I can't speak on right now, but I'm definitely going to dive into some other things.
AllHipHop.com: Do you have any last words for Hip Hop?
Wale: Just keep it alive and keep it competitive and keep it fun. Let's keep some soul in it, let's not take the whole soul out of it.