Shine season, a long-awaited period of joy, is upon us. This fifth commercial album from DC rapper-writer Wale delivers on bangers and good vibes. Malignant forces within his country, from hate-mongering TV personalities to the insane political climate, have catalyzed Wale to embrace parts of his life that are worth celebrating.
Wale, as curator, gathers guests on most of his 14 tracks. The majority are destined for the club, many themed around objects of his desire, with supporting verse from Olamide and Davido on "Fine Girl," Sam Sneak on "My PYT" and Chris Brown on "Heaven on Earth." The Major Lazer-produced "My Love," with British singer Dua Lipa and Nigerian export WizKid, is a dancehall gem, sure to populate many a summer soundtrack.
Beats are enjoyable, ranging from murky piano and trap drums on "Fish n Grits" — despite Travis Scott's painfully sung hook in stark contrast to his killer bars — to absolute winner "Fashion Week," with infectious, sexy vocals laced into the drum line. G-Eazy's guest verse reigns supreme here among the impressive lineup, although Lil Wayne on "Running Back" and Phil Adé on "Smile" both stand out.
"Thank God" initially sounds like love for his enemies, "praying that they don't fall" but only for the purpose of watching Wale rise higher than them. He also pays homage to his mentors on "Scarface Rozay Gotti" and invites Columbian singer J Balvin to add a sung verse in Spanish to the bilingual "Colombia Heights."
Wale's best reason to be happy is his daughter Zyla Moon, whose birth inspired the acronym title SHiNE, "Still Here ignoring Negative Energy." A baby's outstretched arm on the cover holds on tight to a blue moon, two not-so-subtle symbols of Wale's creative company Every Blue Moon and his family life. Zyla Moon coos at the end of the final track "Smile," getting a feature credit before she turns one and urging Wale fans to find their own reason to smile.