Sunday, November 10, 2013

Truly ‘Gifted’?

An album title sometimes sets the mood for what you’d expect as far as content goes. For example when you think of the T-Pain album Thr33 Ringz, what is your immediate thought?

A circus, right? Don’t be worried. It’s just good word association. Plus if you’ve even heard the album you’d know that he [T-Pain] included a bit of that circus vibe in a few tracks as well as videos and the interludes between songs. To save time I won’t name any others in this vein and to get to the point.

Wale’s third album The Gifted evokes an image of amazing thought and equally amazing lyricism.

Imagine my surprise when the album delivers.

I have been one of the many who’ve been critical of Wale after his first album (and into that second album). Ambition (the aforementioned second effort) was, ironically enough, ambitious but it fell short. This heavily hyped album feels like an effort at redemption that succeeds.

As per my usual, I will be reviewing a set number of tracks. This time, it will be six.

The Curse Of The Gifted” is a rather introspective sort of track. It speaks of how being gifted (and being famous) has both the positive aspects to as well as the negative. Granted, it’s a hackneyed thought that many rappers have dabbled with but this entry from Wale is quite good.

Golden Salvation (Jesus Piece) is clever. Why? This song is Wale rapping from the point of view of the Jesus piece, the constant companion of many a rapper. It is nearly a religious track based on the lyrical content. The Jesus piece notes how the owner wears him but doesn’t give praise to its namesake. This is one of the deeper tracks I’ve heard recently.

Gullible” is an interesting track. I liken it to a modern day “Why?” with Wale playing Jadakiss and Cee Lo Green becoming Anthony Hamilton. It doesn’t seem to ask the same type of questions Jada did. This is more about things in a smaller social circle with the nod towards the political. The horns and Cee Lo’s hook singing make this one truly amazing.

Bricks”, as the name might suggest, is about drug culture. It’s appreciated that Wale says he raps, not moves bricks of drugs. He instead tells the story of those he knew who did sell drugs, sold drugs, or died because of drugs (be it distribution or usage). He questions whether it’s worth all that, using two definitions of brick interchangeably. Yo Gotti comes through on the track to tell his person drug stories. Lyfe Jennings surprises me on the hook but it’s a pleasant surprise, much like this song.

When I first heard about who was featured on the song (i.e. Nicki Minaj), I didn’t want to like “Clappers”. Then the beat dropped. Here Wale did something that no other rapper actually thought of-make a booty shake song with interpolations of E.U.’s “Da Butt”. Juicy J, who seems to be establishing himself as the twerk song guru for this decade, is featured as well. As I expected Nicki Minaj says a bunch of garbled nonsense but even she can’t ruin the track. I’m just thankful she didn’t rap first.

Tired Of Dreaming” is a love song of sorts. For such a thing, you’d need an R & B artist. Enter Ne-Yo on the hook.  It’s an amazing verse from Wale happens here then an appearance by Wale’s MMG label mate/boss/The Bawse Rick Ross, something I thought would happen earlier. These three together capture magic and keep it contained within 3:54 of production.

All things considered, this album is strong. Wale may need to keep this one as a template for success.

Written by Lucius Black for Royalty Magazine

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