Published Feb 10, 2012Last year, Wale became one of the first Washington, DC rappers to achieve significant commercial success; his debut solo album for Rick Ross's Maybach Music Group, 2011's Ambition, debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, moving 162,600 copies in its first week.
Wale built his rep in the DC area with a deluge of consistent mixtapes that highlighted his nimble wordplay. In 2007, producer Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse, Nas, Adele) signed Wale to his Allido imprint, where he began to attract national attention. Even with a mass of buzz and Interscope and Roc Nation behind him, his 2009 debut Attention Deficit received middling reviews and failed to move units. Despite this setback, it surprised fans that the man behind thoughtful songs like "The Kramer" would sign with the floss-happy Rick Ross's Maybach Music Group.
In a recent Exclaim! interview, Wale explained the move from Allido/Interscope to Ross's vanity imprint, saying, "Allido [Records] was cool, Mark Ronson was cool, but I don't think they were able to help me accentuate my message to urban America the way I needed to."
Wale says he appreciates the individuality that that Maybach has allowed him to display, stating that "I have my own message, my own style... Maybach gave me the platform to show all that."
He rationalized that songs like "600 Benz" provided motivation for him as a rapper: "You gotta realize, I challenge myself. If it's a trap record, what is Wale going to say? I challenge myself to go around [the concept] and still deliver a message".
Wale also mentioned a recording session with past collaborator Ronson in January, though the rapper neglected to get into specifics. Let's hope it's something comparable to "Pot of Gold" or his remix of Lily Allen's "Smile."
To read more of Exclaim!'s newly published interview with Wale, head here. As previously reported, Wale is in the midst of a North American tour. You can see the trek's remaining dates here.