Hip-Hop Block Reviews Wale’s Debut Album, “Attention Deficit”
In 2006, rapper Nas declared the state of hip-hop no longer alive. However, hip-hop is not just a fad or genre of music—it is a culture. With the release of Wale’s first studio released album, hip-hop has seen preservation.
“Attention Deficit” by Wale is 14 tracks worth of sheer hip-hop at its peak. Hip-hop heads don’t like and listen to what they don’t know; and if that’s the case, they need to get familiar with Wale.
At a first run through the CD for the first time, one sees that this album does not possess the features of a classic; for example, the structure isn’t solid. Why did each song get a particular spot on the album? The simple answer to that is from the perspective of the D.C. native rapper is that this album is pushed by emotions. We can never predict our emotions because they are constantly changing.
So why name the album “Attention Deficit?” According to Wale (pronounced Wah-lay) in multiple different interviews, the consumer is stingy with the type of music they listen to; for example, the hip-hop radio stations play one type of music. Wale’s album is somewhat ADHD to the industry pushed music we are force-fed to the public.
The album cover shows a young kid in front of a glass window with many different televisions turned on. The kid represents the average consumer because while this kid is focused on the television in a somewhat trance-like state, he has earphones on which shows that he isn’t really paying attention to what is truly going on whether it be the televisions or the music that is being played.
With that said, Wale’s album is a gem. Although the quality of this gem may not be recognized or understood this day in hip-hop, ten years later, hip-hop enthusiasts will speak of Wale as resurrecting the game of hip-hop or at least a stepping stool to elevating the genre to what it was at its peak in the 90s.
In the opening song, ‘Triumph,” the blaring horns grab our attention as Wale tries to earn the listener’s respect. This song is an ode to hip-hop fans everywhere.
“Me against you/the movie of the year/’Cuz you slum, dog/And I’m the millionaire.” Wale’s punch-lines range from average to clever as he realizes that help from hip-hop’s already established artists won’t help the newcomers by any means.
The next song is arguably one of the best songs on the album. “Mama Told Me” can be understood by underdogs everywhere. When you didn’t believe in yourself, mother always did. The soulful sounds penetrate the aural senses and pleasure the mind.
“Mama told me it be days like this/ But I ain’t never think it be a day like this.” After being the first mainstream rapper from his CD, mom always said and believed, but not to the extent of fame he has acquired thus far. He’s already gained 120,000 plus followers on Twitter.
“It’s lonely at the top, so I waited/ But ain’t nobody take it/ Now I’m playing solitaire pacing/ Crucifix pieces, necklace with Jesus/ See me as blasphemous/ But I don’t need them.”
He doesn’t need the materialism that has been a product of what rap has become, he just wants to be heard by the masses.
After the soulful sounds we are given a bass-heavy track featuring UGK member, Bun B on the song “Mirrors.” The mirror on the wall tells Wale who he really is every waking day. This is a slap at the artists in hip-hop who don’t do what they say they do in their songs. At the end of the day, the man in the mirror is who you really are.
The only negative aspect of the album is that is heavy on the features. The features include Gucci Mane, Lady Gaga, J. Cole, Jazmine Sullivan, Chrissette Michele, Pharell, K’nan and a few other notables.
With songs about women who will do any and everything for fame (“90210”), relationships between dark-skin and light-skinned African-Americans (“Shades”), a story-telling track about a girlfriend who doesn’t answer the phone during the club (“Contemplate”), trying to make a girl fall in love with you after her heart has been broken plenty of times before (“Diary”), and a song about prescribing hope to hip-hop (“Prescription”), the reality that this album is driven by emotions is evident.
We all have been through or experienced something he describes on this album whether in relationships, interactions with the opposite sex, or the persistence of certain individuals.
On “Beautiful Bliss,” J. Cole and Wale show the reason why they are signed to Jay-Z’s label Roc Nation.
“It’s ironic they call me a fresh breath/ No Joke/ You see them boys signed me to the ‘Scope” Signed to the label Interscope as well, Wale does his thing with a play on words; however, rapper J. Cole takes it up another notch for a tag-team match of pure lyricism.
“I’m definitely in a class of my own/ At dinner with Hov/ Hopin’ he pass the paton/ He just passed the Patron.” J. Cole is ready for the limelight and he is given that chance on “Attention Deficit.”
Overall, if you’re looking for a CD to kick back to whether you’re upset, happy, sad, heartbroken, or just in the mood for good music, then pop-in “Attention Deficit” and play it on shuffle. It’ll get the job done.
Coming from DC, a city where the two major sports teams don’t deliver Wins, they are delivering a Win in the music arena. Wale not only does it for his city, he does it for the genre. Not only does he do it for the genre, he’s doing it for the culture.
This album sets precedent on the artist as an individual. Let’s just hope we have less leaders and more followers.
~Keep Hip-Hop Alive~