Over the past 12 months, Washington D.C. rapper Wale has taken a lot of flack from fans for signing with Rick Ross‘ Maybach Music Group. Despite the criticism, Wale proved that he could hang with Rozay, Pill and Meek Mill on May’s Self Made Vol. 1 without having to sacrifice his artistic credibility. Now, in a lengthy and explosive interview with Culture VI, Wale addresses those who doubted him switching to Rick Ross’s label.
Wale first talked about the perceived cocky streak in his music and personality. He explained that as a rapper, it’s important to maintain a higher level of confidence about his music.
“Human beings, that’s what we’re here for. We’re supposed to misunderstand each other. If everybody understood each other, we’d have wings…and we’d be able to talk to God,” he explained. “Now, I say that and say this, my music is based on reality and artists are supposed to almost accentuate all of their qualities for better or worse. I’m sure the most depressing song ever written by the most depressing person on Earth wasn’t as depressed as they depicted it to be. A song is supposed to accentuate human emotions. So, I put those things and emotions on the genre, Hip Hop, where we are praised for how we say rather than what we say. So if I exude confidence on a Hip Hop record and I’m really good at exuding confidence on it, you’re gonna call me cocky? Well, what should I tell you? I woke up at 8 o’clock this morning, ate a bowl of cheerios, went to the studio, made a mediocre song, and went to sleep? Is that what people would prefer you think? Because I’m sure if I said I put on some $400 Jordans, a Moschino shirt, and some PRPS’s and I went to the studio and killed every nigga in Hip Hop on a song…motherfuckers would check for me. I’d get close to a million [Twitter] followers quickly.”
He added, “It’s the ‘Sanders Theory.’ Deion or Barry, pick one. People love Barry Sanders for doing what? For damaging his body for the Detroit Lions for 10 years. Then when he walked away from the game with both of his knees intact, I heard the worse things from people of that area, the Lions fans, about him. Deion, put it all out there. I’m gonna high step. I’m excited. I’m gonna put it all out there. I don’t get to score that many touchdowns, so I’m excited. Come enjoy this joy with me. Music is a drug, my nigga. Be happy with me, be happyme. I sold 28,000 records my first week, with no push from my label. My mother couldn’t even buy my album from across the street from my house. You don’t think I’m supposed to be excited to still be here? Working with Rick Ross, one of the hottest rappers in the game? You don’t think I’m excited to have a double platinum record with Roscoe Dash and Waka Flocka? Them same people who was talking about this, that and the third, hip-hop blah blah blah, are the same people in the club singing ‘No Hands’ verbatim. Same people saying ‘Wale, he’s selling out, blah blah blah,’ those are the same people rocking when ‘No Hands’ came out. ‘Why is he doing this, what’s going on?’ Hip Hop. This is Hip Hop music. And my mission statement is to never dumb it down, but never over-think it.”
Wale also discussed how he he fits into Maybach Music Group and why he may have switched up from his usual sound for the group’s LP Self Made Vol. 1. He explains that the sonic shift came out of being a versatile artist and experiencing new things in life that have pushed him to experiement with new sounds. He also added that Hip Hop’s blogger culture has also affected the way people listen to music. He claims that instead of giving an artist’s new music a chance, they expect rappers to meet a certain standard that wrongfully dictates whether they’ve sold out or not.
“It’s a slight possibility that we put an album together for the people that appreciate the summer. It’s a slight possibility that we kept all the ideas for the albums, like the real stuff. Maybe,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to sit around with like Steven Spielberg, Hype Williams, Spike Lee and everyone else to create this big movie compilation for the people. We gave them records this summer! I don’t hear no complaints from [Funkmaster] Flex, [DJ] Envy, none of them…you got to understand who you’re dealing with. My first record, the first verse on there was only 8 bars! That wasn’t no profound shit! ‘Name’s Wale, they probably know me from the Roc.’ What the fuck man?! ‘Shake it, shake it, shake it off.’ That might sound crazy to everyone else, but everybody in DC, they’re going to know that for the rest of their life. So how you going to say, ‘Oh, I’m doing a song “Malcolm X,” and I’m not providing anything for the people?’ You talking about somebody who made a song called ‘Rhyme of the Century’, wrote it when I was like 19 years old, and wanted that to be my biggest record, first song ever! Right? I’m the same person! Listen to Malcolm X. I got a lot of Muslim family members and friends. There’s a lot of gems in that verse. If you can look over the fact I’m rhyming on a quote-unquote ‘Lex Lugar-sounding beat,’ or rhyming with two ex-drug dealers, if you can look past that and listen to the verse…you might hear something, just maybe. If you know anybody who’s into sneakers and collects sneakers, you might understand all the jargon I’m talking about in ‘Fitted Cap.’ And I sound very narcissistic right now, like I’m talking down, but that’s not it. I’m going to defend my music.
“That’s why I take so long to write some of them verses, so I can defend them. Now why don’t you read – somebody got my lyrics up for ‘By Any Means’ – read it! You can Google it, then read it! And then go ask anybody who know the Qu’ran, and who is appreciative of the faith how they feel about that. Because I touched a lot of with that who never really knew. There’s beauty in that, my nigga, like for real. Really. There’s beauty in that 14 year old kid who slept outside to get them new Jordans, but you ain’t heard me talk about them sneakers in two years. There’s beauty in that. There’s beauty in a lot of motherfuckers that cried, begged, screamed, kicked down the door to hear Wale on a Just Blaze record right? I gave that initially. And the first verse was for you, fortunately. ‘They tried to tell me I don’t fit up in this mothafucka/’Cause Rozay be talkin’ white, he think he Uncle Ruckus.’ Well, that might be the case. I can get a Just Blaze beat on my solo album now because of that! That means something to me! ‘Running Rebels’…that’s Hip Hop right there. That’s the same producer [Tone P] that was on my first mixtape who made that beat! Did he change, too? Did he do anything different? Nah, that ain’t gonna say…if I would of put that joint – if I would have made a mixtape 200 Miles Runnin’ and put that song on there, and put [my] ‘By Any Means’ verse and rapped it on something with a sample that I probably could never clear, ‘Oh yeah, Wale so Hip Hop. Yeah.’
“These quote-unquote ‘Hip Hop enthusiasts’ don’t – they getting the game fucked up now. Everybody’s an A&R…for the world’s record label. And they signing everybody. You Tube niggas, everybody, everything. You not listening. You stopped listening! You used to listen, you stopped. You know why you stopped? Because you became an A&R like everybody else. They stopped listening, they started. Now everybody sizing up. Nobody want to get in the motherfucking game, but everyone wants to call the fucking plays now. Ya’ll stop listening. The niggas that’s listening is Clark Kent, who called me, say ‘Man, my nigga, you killed that.’ [For] Young Guru to call me. For Fab[olous] to say, ‘Man, you killin’ that shit.’ They ain’t stop listening. It’s the niggas with the computers that sit down there and analyze everything. If you go out and see the world and enjoy the club, and see some women and see some things and read some things, and stop looking at the fact that I’m rhyming over something that might sound like something you heard before and listen to the words, like Hip Hop used to be…niggas might see something.”
RELATED: Black Like Me: Wale Vs. Kola Boof