Wale The Gifted

WaleThe Gifted
Long-time fans kissed off any chance of really seeing Mixtape About Nothing-era Wale again when they largely ignored his major label debut, and that stinging early rejection has continued to inform this sizable chunk of Wale's bills-paying lyricism, not dedicated to sneakers, women and blunts, ever since. On The Gifted, the DC native attempts to wheel it back a little bit and slip into something with greater depth than his recent offerings, not only showing more focus in his rhymes, but couching them in a more vibrant sound bed of live instrumentation and retro samples. Cuts like "Sunshine," the Dap Kings-featuring "Gullible" and "Vanity" best demonstrate this revamped pose, albeit with mixed results, particularly in the execution of that latter track. However, it's the portions of the record squarely focused at the MMG set that are more miss than hit. Wasted moments like the 2 Chainz-sporting "Rotation" and yet another Nicki Minaj disappointment ("Clappers") are featured, though tailor-made hits like Rihanna-assisted slow jam "Bad" should appease those supporters. While Wale remains fairly proficient throughout, that clever, memorable wordplay of old is what's most notably absent from this session, and that's a shame. (MMG/Warner)