Wale appeared on the hip-hop market as sunshine after a big and long storm and even if he made his first steps on the path to fame in the same time as Drake and Kid Cudi did, the young rapper set himself apart from the other MCs with a unique and always changing style. He didn’t taste the success as his fellows in the same branch did, but he’s definitely getting more and more fans and his latest album, Ambition, seems to have paved the way for the greater things to come. The album was released November 1, 2011 via Maybach Music Group,still being managed by Roc Nation, and Warner Bros. Records.
Besides, the D.C. rapper’s sophomore album, which saw the daylight on the first day of November via Maybach Music Group, shows that Wale has a lot to prove to his fans. His 2009 debut album, Attention: Deficit didn’t make the splash that everyone anticipated but his second album surpassed all expectations. Ambition entered the music charts in its first week at the number two spot on the US Billboard 200 chart, with 164,062 copies sold, which is a huge jump compared to his debut album that sold about 28,000 in its first week. Some say that this boom is because after touring with Somali-Canadian MC K’Naan, Wale left Interscope and aligned himself with Rick Ross‘ Maybach Music Group for this album. In a previous interview, the rapper said the old label limited him creatively, and kept him from making the type of music he wanted to make and this could explain his move.
However, due to his new boss or not, the album is high above his first album, and much closer to the witty and intelligent wordplay that won him a large underground following well before he wanted to experience celebrity. It’s a mix, a collage of music styles. Trippy neo-soul (the third single on the album, “Lotus Flower Bomb,” with Miguel is one of the smoother records in recent memory ), digital dancehall (”Slight Work,” in which Big Sean puts in a good performance according to his standards; “God damn it, I’m one hell of a guy,” he smirks) and breezy pop-rap (”Sabotage,” featuring Lloyd). And since a rapper’s album wouldn’t be true without rap, Wale combines rap with a touch of the early 2000’s nostalgia (”Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop (remix)”).
“Double M Genius” is a heavy beat and has some of Wale’s best wordplay. It’s a vintage track, remembering the ’70s and it also reflects Wales’ fixation on professional sports. “I’ma let the chips fall/Niggas is Kemba Walker, tryna see me pitfall,” he raps referencing the recently NBA-drafted baller’s ability to knock defenders off their feet. Then “Miami Nights” brings Wale’s fans down to earth with an extra dose of the money-and-ladies talk. He also mentions how nice his watch is, and later gets to the chorus of if he “can get my money right, I’m gonna OD.”
Furthermore, his boss comes on stand in the album’s title track - “Ambition ft. Meek Mills and Rick Ross” - bringing along a mix of drama and epics and setting the tone for MMG’s future stuff. Meek Mill backs up with his sonorous bass Ross’s rap about how drugs influence children nowadays, drug dealing being one of the few options for street’s youngsters. But the list of collaborators is longer than that. The voices of J. Cole (”Bad Girls Club”, the first single from the album) and Kid Cudi (”Focused”) can also be heard.
Overall, Ambition is almost entirely all Wale. It’s the best proof that Wale is a strong lyricist with an agile pushing flow who successfully combined personal material with over-the-top entertainment. The album is undoubtedly one of the best “commercial” hip-hop releases in the last couples of months; it cements Wale’s own style and takes his career to the next level.