Just before Thanksgiving, D.C.-based rapper Wale squashed a highly publicized feud with Complex and covered the music magazine's December issue alongside longtime mentor and muse Jerry Seinfeld --- yes, that Jerry Seinfeld. A month later, he released "Festivus," a free 8-song mixtape that's merely his latest homage to Seinfeld's iconic sitcom.We talked to the oft-misunderstood rapper as he put the finishing touches on his upcoming fourth album, "The Album About Nothing," a play on the "Show About Nothing." He told us about connecting with fans outside of social media and what he's gained from hanging out with Seinfeld.
You've had a roller coaster few months, from changing your management to having to get emergency surgery in November. How do you feel going into 2015?
I feel good. I'm anxious right now. Sometimes the plight of the artist in any avenue is just not being fully understood. The connection from one heart to the world's heart is sometimes lost in translation and that's the only frustrating part of my job.
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You've mentioned wanting to get off social media and interact with fans through e-mail, open letters, and of course, music. Why?
I really want to empower my fans and empower the responsible media. I don't think I need to elaborate on what responsible media is because there's a lot of irresponsible people with a lot of power in media. There's a lot of politics and kissing this person's butt and positioning this and that and the third. It's draining, man. The people used to have the power, but we submitted it to people… Like, I can't dunk, so I shouldn't be able to judge the dunk contest. I should form an opinion, but I shouldn't be the gatekeeper of who the best dunker in the world is.
You're working with Jerry Seinfeld on your new album, and Jerry himself appears in Chris Rock's "Top Five," where he lists you as one of his top five favorite rappers of all time. What does that do for your confidence?
He's been given the opportunity to listen to my newest stuff. He was a fan of my music, but I think the newest stuff that we've done for "The Album About Nothing" is miles ahead. I catapulted myself to a different space.
What can you reveal about the new album, which comes out in March?
It's really just me and Jerry. Two guys from different worlds, talking about life. He almost plays my conscious, or my second brain… It's a specific type of art, not really designed for radio. I went in and I wanted to open up more and give people a piece of me that they'll never be able to let go.
If you go:
Friday, January 9, 7 p.m.
Theatre of Living Arts
334 South St., 215-922-1011
New York City
Saturday, Jan. 10, 7 p.m.
17 Irving Place, 212-777-6800
Sunday, Jan. 11, 8 p.m.
Paradise Rock Club
967 Commonwealth Ave., 617-562-8800