Wale Ambition

It's strange to think of Ambition as Wale's long-awaited commercial triumph. After his 2009 debut, Attention Deficit, flopped, the DC rapper got a rare second chance from Rick Ross, who signed him to his Maybach Music imprint. Wale has accordingly recast himself in his mentor's image; Ambition is glossy, poppy and lyrically schizophrenic. There are five R&B ballads, which Wale spends the rest of the album contradicting. "Chain Music" is about how women are attracted to his jewellery, while "That Way" is the plausible exception, which is aided by a great Ross verse, a sticky Jeremih hook and a slick Curtis Mayfield flip. When Wale gets a chance to just rap, it's thrilling. Wale has quotables for days over the plunging strings of "Legendary," while he and Big Sean weave nimbly around Diplo's oddly hooky police sirens and work-out chants on "Slight Work." When Wale tackles his hometown's issues on "DC Or Nothing," he's believable for the first time on the record. This release is frustrating because Wale's capable of more. (Warner)