Hip-hop heavyweight Wale is on tour with J. Cole

Wale is on tour with J. Cole. Credit: Alex Kirzhner
Wale is currently on a nationwide tour with J. Cole.
Credit: Alex Kirzhner

Wale wasn’t satisfied. Already a hip-hop heavyweight, complete with a Grammy nomination and a Soul Train award for 2011’s “Lotus Flower Bomb,” he felt the need to change his sound. Wale wanted to stand out in a crowded music scene.

“It was all about making a connection with my fans,” says the artist born Olubowale Victor Akintimehin. “This is one sound, very soulful … something a little different, more exciting.”

“The Curse Of The Gifted” is the first track off his third studio album, “The Gifted,” which was released June 25. The song opens with the rattle of a spray paint can before a deep, almost bluesy bass beat takes over.

Perhaps the most telling line comes right away when he spits, “I’m honestly still looking for some type of balance.” He’s seemingly found it. “The Gifted” sold 158,000 copies in its first week. By July, Wale had edged out peers J. Cole and Kanye West for the top spot on the Billboard 200.

“I showed a lot with this album,” Wale says. “A lot of music people didn’t think I had this kind of range.”

Now the D.C. native is on nationwide tour with an old friend.

“It was long overdue,” Wale says of joining forces with J. Cole on what the pair are calling the What Dreams May Come True tour. “We used to talk like if we ever got a break, if we ever made it big, we would do this. We put out stuff before, but never on the level like we are now.”

On “The Gifted,” Wale draws on everything from blues to jazz to comedy. The last track features Wale and comedian Jerry Seinfeld discussing their upcoming project, “The Album About Nothing.”

If it seems like a weird pairing, it is. If it seems like a joke, it’s not. Seinfeld is a huge fan, and vice versa. The two linked up after a concert in Baltimore and stayed in touch. Since then, they’ve been spotted hanging out in the studio together.

But when you ask Wale who was the most exciting person he’s ever worked with, he doesn’t hesitate.

“Rihanna,” Wale says. “She’s such a big star. It was just an honor to be able to do that.”

The two teamed up to remix Wale’s chart-topping single, “Bad.” While many global superstars will record a hook, send it over and let a sound editor patch it together, Rihanna met Wale and they recorded it live.

“We were just chilling, just vibing, making music,” he says. “She’s a down-to-earth chick.”

The track was an instant club banger. In fact, the entire album is — thanks to guest appearances by Nicki Minaj, Juicy J, Rick Ross, Wiz Khalifa, 2 Chainz and others. “The Gifted” reads like a who’s who list of the hip hop world, with one very notable exception: his tour-mate, J. Cole.

It’s interesting considering they are two of the fastest rising stars in the industry, maybe the two most likely to steal the throne from Jay Z and Kanye West. When talk of a collaborative album with Cole comes up, Wale’s voice perks up.

“Yeah, at some point,” Wale says. “That would be a good idea … if time permits.”

The Kendrick situation

One of Wale’s peers, Kendrick Lamar, caused quite the stir — scratch that, the LA emcee literally put the hip-hop world on notice — last month when he declared himself the best in the game.

Lamar put several rappers on blast, including Wale, whom he mentioned by name in a verse on Big Sean’s “Control.”

Wale wouldn’t comment on the verse. In fact, when the topic came up, he hung up on this reporter and ended the interview. However, he did note that he doesn’t really listen to his peers. He keeps his iPod tuned to the greats, like Biggie Smalls.

“I listen to the legends,” he says. “I try to learn from them. I don’t really pay attention to what’s going on now.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

NYPD looking for man they say assaulted elderly…

      The New York City Police Department is asking for the public's assistance in locating a Hispanic male 20's wanted in connection with…

Local

Three arrested after allegedly assaulting off-duty officer in…

Three men were arrested early Saturday morning after allegedly assaulting an off-duty officer at a Bronx bodega, and the NYPD is asking for the public's…

Local

Healthcare union creates vibrant West Indian Day Parade…

Volunteers worked almost around the clock through the weekend, putting the flashy finishing touches on hundreds of costume pieces 1199SEIU members will wear while marching…

National

Top 10 most hipster college campuses

Hipsters are everywhere these days. You can't walk down the anywhere anymore without seeing a pair of skinny jeans on a handlebar mustachioed 20-something, a…

Arts

Theater: Discouraging 'Poor Behavior'

Theresa Rebeck's latest off-Broadway play, about two couples sparring on a weekend getaway, repeats a few mistakes of her past.

Gossip

Chef Todd English arrested for DWI in the…

Celebrity chef Todd English is facing DWI charges after a traffic stop on Sunday.

Movies

Box office: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is 2014's…

This weekend "The Guardians of the Galaxy" passed the fourth "Transformers" movie to become the highest grossing film of 2014.

Gossip

Spears back with controversial ex?

Is Briteny Spears back with Adnan Ghalib?

Sports

Novak Djokovic feeds off US Open crowd to…

Novak Djokovic isn't a native New Yorker, but he sure knows how to use the U.S. Open crowd to his advantage.

NFL

Odell Beckham still 'weeks away,' Tom Coughlin angry…

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has fought a losing battle against the media all preseason over the status of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

Education

These college students think breakfast is the most…

  It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also home to the most students who like to order food in…

Sex

When it comes to dating, height matters

Does a man’s height really matter when it comes to dating? Unfortunately - according to a new study - the answer looks like it’s yes.…

Travel

10 free apps to make traveling easier

Finding the nearest bathroom, calculating currency exchanges and locating your departure gate must have been difficult for travelers of previous generations. But we wouldn't know,…

Travel

How to get a seat upgrade to business…

It used to be much easier to upgrade your coach seat to business or even first class, but rigid rules and tighter schedules have made…