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
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

Movies

Shia LaBeouf disorderly conduct case pushed to September

A judge on Thursday adjourned until September the disorderly conduct and harassment case against actor Shia LaBeouf, who was charged with disturbing a Broadway theater…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.