In Defense of... Wale's "Focused (feat. Kid Cudi)"


I'll level with y'all: The only things I've heard from Washington D.C. rapper Wale are his Seinfeld-themed mixtapes, 2008's The Mixtape About Nothing and last year's More About Nothing. The rest of his non-sitcom library has just flown past me, I guess -- even his debut album, Attention Deficit.

The good news is that Wale's second album, Ambition (out today), gives me a chance to catch up with him and figure out his M.O. -- beyond him simply being a Seinfeld fan, I mean.

And I'm liking what I'm hearing.

His new single, "Focused," marks an end to a feud between Wale and Kid Cudi -- something else that flew past my radar. Cudi delivers the hook in his distinct nasal voice. Cudder's singing may be lacking, but it still beats Drake's gravelly, Siamese-cat monotone any day.

Anyway, what the song tells me is that Wale's selling point is his balance between wordplay and pacing. Here we see his wit thanks to raunchy lines ("show me a peace sign/not with your hand, girl"), boastful claims against other rappers ("I'm killing these blackheads/my rap is Noxzema"), and one line that namechecks the Packers while playing with words at the same time ("Smoking Green Bay nigga, I'm a cheesehead/in a Lambo, see me where the G's at").

Someone give this guy a foam cheese head, already!

Sure, Wale's thematic variety sounds like the opposite of focused. But branching out has become a good hustle for anyone who can do it well.

In that sense, Wale seems focused on honing his craft and letting the theme find itself. He raps about nothing -- not that there's anything wrong with that. I kind of like it, actually.
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