When the Hip-Hop world thinks of Olubowale Victor Folarin, aka Wale, the first thing that may come to mind is DC. And then maybe Maryland and Virginia. And then Go-Go music. Yep, Wale has been waving the DMV flag hard ever since he broke though in 2006 with the local hit “Dig Dug (Shake It)”. Now after releasing buzz singles (“Back On The Go-Go” & “Nike Boots”) critically acclaimed mixtapes (The Mixtape About Nothing, 100 Miles & Running, & Back to the Feature), getting numerous magazine co-signs (Named one of the XXL‘s “The 10 Freshmen”; cover of URB), and multiple push backs, Wale’s debut album, Attention Deficit, is finally here. But the question still remains: Is this album worth your attention?
1. Triumph Produced by Dave Sitek
Backed my announcing horns, the first track off this album proves to be a fitting opening for Wale. He spits boastful rhymes as well as his realizations of a new kid on the block; “I ask Mr. West for a little bit of help/Realize us new niggas got to get it ourselves/…And the only thing I fear is Iovine’s shelf”. Good start.
2. Mama Told Me Produced by Best Kept Secret
The beat on this track is what I honestly expected on this album; it’s still go-go flavored but updated (Plus it’s well produced). I’m feeling the hook and the beat but for some reason around the 2nd verse I starting to loose interest. Wale rhymes okay, just nothing to hold the attention here like it’s needed on this beat. Hey, it could be that I already heard this beat before. It was used for Birdman & Rick Ross’ “Shittin’ On Them” featuring Busta Rhymes. And honestly they did a better job on it too (Yeah, I said it). Wale’s version is still one to check for though.
3. Mirrors Featuring Bun B; Produced by Mark Ronson
Wale grabs the surviving member of UGK to ride shotgun here. Wale shows versatility and adopts a stutter flow to explain his point; “M-m-m-mirror, tell me I’m the realest/Since all these other nigga g-g-got gimmicks and l-l-lyrics/It’s all gun busting and such a lack of the subject…” Over a mellow and guitar heavy beat, Bun B makes a good showing and Wale holds his own against with certified vet. The back and forth hook was a nice touch too.
4. Pretty Girls Featuring Gucci Mane & Weensey; Produced by Best Kept Secret
Like I mentioned previously on “Mama Told Me”, I think Wale maybe at his best when he goes back to his Go-Go roots. From the Weensey chorus to the crown interaction towards the end (“Ugly girls be quiet. Pretty girls clap like this.”), this song is a surefire hit. Then again, I basically speaking on the first version released on internet without the Gucci Mane verse. I understand why he was added to bring buzz but did Gucci really add anything to the track? Besides that, “Pretty Girls” was a good pick for the album’s third single.
5. Award Tour Featuring Jazmine Sullivan; Produced by Cool & Dre
This is the song that further sparked my interest in this album. If you on a plane going to another city/state/country; how is this not your theme music? The piano laced beat by Cool & Dre does the trick as Wale gives “definition of a jet setter” and Jazmine (Proving once again that she is a force on the rap hooks) kills it with the hook and adlibs. If you haven’t checked for this one, get from under that rock and do so right now. Side note: It seems like this song was slightly rearranged for the album.
6. Let It Loose Featuring Pharrell; Produced by The Neptunes
When I saw this song on the tracklist, I was eager to see what The Neptunes and Wale could come up with. Then I listened to it and I remembered that The Neptunes hasn’t been the Neptunes in a while. Maybe it’s just me but it’s just what I expected. Maybe I need more time with but as of now I’ll pass.
7. 90210 Produced by Mark Ronson
I’ll give it to Wale, he definitely shows he can mix up the subject matter; here he tells a story of girls lost in the city of Beverly Hills (90210). I’m surely not the demographic he’s going for but that not to say it’s a bad thing as the lyrics are well done; “And she throws up, whatever she eats/She leave the bathroom, with a nose bleed…” The beat is somber and makes you think of a bedtime story, which fits the whole “all that glitters…” theme.
8. Shades Featuring Chrisette Michele; Produced by Best Kept Secret & JuJu
Speaking of subject matter, Wale jumps on a taboo one and brings Chrisette Michele to go in about the subject of skin prejudice in the Black community; “I never fit in with them light skins/I felt the lighter they was, they better that they life is/So I resented them/And they resented me.” Introspective stuff. Adding to the mood is great production as well as Chrisette on the hook (“From a light skinned sister to a drark skinned brother”) this track shows that Wale isn’t afraid to be vulnerable.
9. Chillin’ Featuring Lady Gaga; Produced by Cool & Dre
For some reason, I never got into this song. I understand it’s purpose, a radio friendly crossover single, but it’s still not my cup of tea. Funny thing is if this song had came out much later (Seeing as how Lady GaGa is way more popular now) this track would have much bigger and received much more attention. You should have heard this one by now. Side note: It seems like this song was slightly rearranged for the album also.
10. TV In The Radio Featuring K’naan; Produced by Dave Sitek
This is another one that I was eager to listen to seeing that the previous collaboration between K’naan and Wale was bananas (“Un Ricka” off Back To The Feature). I wasn’t initially feeling this track but a few more listens it grew on me a bit. It’s not mind blowing but it is unique. That may be due to the awkward beat provided by TV On The Radio’s David Sitek (*Thinks about the song title*) Oh…
11. Contemplate Produced by Syience
When I first heard this track, like a lot of people I thought it was a Rihanna feature which would have been a great look for Wale. Well, turns out it’s a sample of Rihanna’s “Question Existing” which is not to say that takes anything away from the song. The sample fits the theme of “contemplating” your reasons and actions. In the first verse Wale deals with his girl who wants the fast life and in the second he questions his own quest for glamor; “One day everybody applauding/The next day you is everybody’s target/Why bother?”
12. Diary Featuring Marsha Ambrosius; Produced by The Sleepwalkers
On this track Wale tries to get a woman to let go of her past troubles with bad relationship and possible open her heart to him; “Every problem that you have with another man I gotta face/Started off on thin ice/I’m still here but I can’t skate”. He switches up the cadence here also to go with the dreamy production. It’s definitely better than what we usually get with rappers theses days dealing with the opposite sex (Even though towards the end he does sound a little pimpish). It’s a good song but I can also see how the beat could get repetitive. Side note: Does Wale have one of the illest lineups of R&B hook women on this album? Yes.
13. Beautiful Bliss Featuring Melanie Fiona & J.Cole; Produced by DJ Green Lantern & Mark Ronson
Motion picture shit. The beat courtesy of Green Lantern and Mark Ronson truly sets the stage for the feeling of being on top of the world. Wale verses serve the purpose but J. Cole steals the show; “My punchlines like gut checks/I’m raw dog, I’m rough sex/I’m on deck, I’m up next/I’m god bless, I’m success/So fuck stress/You can get the fuck from round me/And if you listening know you wondering where they fuck they found me.” Whoa.
14. Prescription Produced by Best Kept Secret
The chemistry between Best Kept Secret and Wale proves true again and this song is a fitting exit to Attention Deficit. Wale gives the listener reasons why he is the “Prescription” to listeners sick of the current state of Hip-Hop (“I breathe life in the game/They are Kevorkian”). He also cleverly sprinkles medical terms to illustrate the point. The beat, like the two previous produced by Best Kept Secret, uses go-go elements that blends well with Wale’s style. Good ending
Wale delivers a solid album with Attention Deficit and seeing that it’s his official debut, it’s impressive. He shows ranges of subject matter as well as rhyme talent that other rappers don’t show on their 10th album. You may not love every single track but you can respect the distinct voice used. One of my few disappointments with the album as a whole is that I’m not sure if it surpasses his mixtapes like The Mixtape About Nothing or Back To The Feature. Besides the minor drawbacks, Attention Deficit should hold the interest of listeners looking for good Hip-Hop. DMV stand up! Wale’s gotcha. Update: Changed rating. The 4 Stars never felt right.