Published Jul 13, 2009As the release date of his first official LP, Attention: Deficit, approaches, rapper Wale remains patient and confident. When asked by Exclaim! if any artist he has worked with - a list that includes Lil Wayne, Black Thought and Lupe Fiasco - has ever out-rhymed him on a collaboration track, the 24-year-old asserts: "Never. I'm too competitive for that, man. I always think I did the best."
But when it comes to a pair of young Canadian hip-hop artists with their own Wale-like buzz, the Washington, DC native has nothing but praise. In fact, when Wale requested K'naan to make one of the few guest appearances on the hotly anticipated Attention: Deficit, the Toronto-by-way-of-Somalia artist delivered such an impressive performance that Wale's pride forced him to rewrite his verse for the song.
"K'naan is the only person I had to do that for," Wale tells Exclaim! "He's scary good. I think he's one of the best rappers I've ever heard in my life. The song [with him] on my album, I rewrote my verse because he went in. He's really talented. He's so talented. He can sing; he can rap."
In addition to K'naan, Wale has developed a kinship with Toronto's Drake, another talked-about rap star building upon mixtape fame and burdened/blessed with the anticipation of an official debut later this year. Wale says he and Drake, both breakout stars from a pair of cities long on aspiring talent, have each felt the crabs-in-the-bucket mentality that comes from mainstream success.
"Everyone wants to be the next one after me that breaks because they know it's possible now," Wale says of the DC scene. "It's gonna be like that everywhere, man, no matter where you go. It's rough.
"You guys got Drake, and he's not even a new artist; he's one of the biggest now. I know he gets backlash from time to time from people up there. That's one of my friends; that's my homie. We talk on the phone all the time. I remember him calling me before So Far Gone dropped, and he's like, 'I don't know, man. Is there too much singing?' I was like, 'Dawg, you're good. You got talent. Believe in it.' I'm happy for him."
Wale's Attention: Deficit is due out September 22 via Allido/Interscope.