On Friday (December 13), Complex released a recording of Wale threatening to knock members of its staff out. Today (December 16), Complex addressed criticism it has received due to the release of the recording.
"The decision to publish Wale’s irate phone call to a Complex Media editor last week was not made lightly," Complex Senior Editor Rob Kenner writes. "In the 24 hours following the D.C. rapper’s Wednesday afternoon rant multiple meetings took place during which serious debate ensued amongst Complex’s music department and senior staff. Some felt that we should work to resolve the dispute behind the scenes. Leaving aside the particulars of which lists he made and which lists he missed this year, Wale is an important artist with a loyal following and—despite his mistaken belief that Complex editors harbor some sort of grudge against him—we recognize the value in maintaining a healthy working relationship with him and the rest of his MMG affiliates.
"Others, myself included, maintained that any time anyone threatens violence against any member of our staff, that threat must be taken seriously and addressed," Kenner continues. "Our intention was not to retaliate or sensationalize but simply to document a credible threat against not just one reporter but our entire team—from accounting to ad sales, IT, HR, even college interns. Moreover, from a journalistic point of view, this was a legitimate story: a public figure making threats against anyone, let alone a major media company, and as such, it’s news.
"It was argued that publishing the call might exacerbate the situation," Kenner adds. "So Complex senior staff finally settled on a fair and sensible course of action: reaching out to Wale’s label and management and offering him the chance to clarify his remarks in hopes of having, as Complex News correspondent Jinx put it, 'a more constructive conversation.' Complex’s offer was declined, leaving us no recourse but to post the audio."
Kenner's Mad Rappers: Wale, Complex and the History of Violence in Hip-Hop Journalism also addresses other instances where rappers have been upset with publications and media members.
"Do you think y'all being a responsible publication by continuously to fuckin' like...do all that petty shit?" Wale says in a phone recording of the conversation, which can be heard below. "At this point, you know it's got to be personal. You tellin' me it's not personal is like a bold face lie. To be omitted from every type of list that y’all do or be at the bottom of it or every type of way that y’all can omit me, y'all will."
"Fuck you, dog," he says. "You know it's disrespect. I swear to God I’ll come to that office and start knocking niggas the fuck out. Y'all wanna see some ghetto ignorant shit? That's what y'all promote. That's the only thing y'all promote from niggas.
"I'll see y'all tomorrow," Wale adds. "How about that? Get the security ready."
Insanul Ahmed, the associate editor who was on the call with Wale, spoke with HipHopDX after the incident.
"Complex has no grudge against Wale or any other artist," Ahmed said in an interview with DX. "Wale is an active, relevant artist and someone we have always covered and will continue to cover. He's made many of our lists in the past. On a more personal note, I have advocated for his music many times in the office and outside. Funny thing is, Wale made this accusation before and back in 2011, I sat down with Wale and talked to him for several hours. I felt like we had worked out whatever issues it was back then."
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