Before I even start, let the record show that (since “Hate is the New Love”) I have always been a Wale supporter. However, I have NEVER been a Wale fan. This in no way compromises my ability to judge his music without bias (although it does prevent me from attending any of his shows). But I must say, as a resident of the DMV, it’s a beautiful thing to finally have strong representation at the forefront of the hip hop music scene. As much as people attempt to discredit him for his song choice or “attitude”, he wouldn’t have made it this far without hard work and overall dedication to perfecting his craft. So for these things, I commend him. With that said, let’s get right into my album breakdown of Wale’s latest project, “Ambition”.
Check out the full review after the jump.
“Don’t Hold Your Applause”
Producer: Tone P, Chris Barz
In typical Wale fashion, the track chosen to be the intro was an incredible one to begin the album with. It seemed to be a precursor for things to come. To me this felt like it was comprised of just about every track on the album. The lyrics didn’t really surprise me. However, the hook is catchy and very engaging. One thing I thought was great was the mention of the GQ “Men of the Year” selection. However, I wish he went more in depth about how that period of time affected his career. After all, that is where the beef with him and Cudi supposedly started. But for what it’s worth, great melody and memorable song.
*I have this track on a constant loop.
Grade: A-

“Double M Genius”
Producer: Mark Henry, Enduhstreatz
Good post-intro track. Admittedly, I tend to be biased against songs with titles that allow the subject matter to be generic (but I guess you need a couple of those on every album). Two tracks into the CD, you can see that Wale didn’t abandon that same gogo feel that made him popular in the first place. I thought that was definitely a good thing. It reminded me of “A Mixtape About Nothing”; it had a very familiar feel. I think the song was decent, but I feel his approach on songs like this is what will forever hold him back from becoming that upper echelon of rapper he so desperately desires.
Grade: B

“Miami Nights”
Producer: Mark Henry, DreKing
This track had a striking resemblance to “Double M Genius” until it dropped. That’s the only thing that saved it (in my mind). There was nothing particularly special about this track; however, it didn’t disrupt the flow of the album. At this point, I was still waiting for that one song that didn’t belong at all. Furthermore, it had great production by up and coming Terror Squad producer, Mark Henry.
Grade: B-

“Legendary”
Producer: DJ Toomp, Lil’ Lody
This most real, intrapersonal, and self-reflecting track on the album by far. After all the Twitter rants this man has under his belt, I felt a track like this was needed. It was braggadocios yet humble. Not too many forced punchlines. The track was well put together. The hook was perfect for it.
*I have this track on a constant loop.
Grade: B+

“Lotus Flower Bomb”
Feature: Miguel
Producer: Jerrin Howard
Anybody that knows me on a personal level knows how I feel about this song. I feel that this could have been the NUMBER ONE song in the country. By no means am I a rapper, but I just feel like his approach was all wrong. The first verse was not engaging at all. The second verse however was impeccable. I feel if those verses were switched, this song would have done so much better. The song was an incredible concept and had the perfect feature on it. Damn, it pisses me off every time I hear it. I can’t help but think of the possibilities.
Grade: A
*I have this track on a constant loop.

“Chain Music”
Producer: Tone P
I really like this song. I thought it could be a club anthem, but the second verse is way too long. Also, I wish he saved it for his album instead of wasting it on “The Eleven One Eleven Theory”. I feel the same way about this song that I feel about J. Cole’s “In the Morning” ft. Drake. I feel like he was too impatient with this song. I feel like the format was wrong. But the beat was crazy. If he shortened the second verse and added a third, he would have a hit (well at least on the Hip Hop Charts).
Grade: B
*I have this track on a constant loop.

“Focused”
Feature: Kid Cudi
Producer: Kore
When I heard that he had a song with Cudi on his album, I instantly felt like it would sound forced. But instead I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. I’m not the biggest Cudi fan, but his hooks are legendary. The one piece of criticism I have for this record however, is I think Wale’s flow was wrong for this song. I just don’t understand how this keeps happening. He was so close.
Grade: B+
*I have this track on a constant loop.

“Sabotage”
Feature: Lloyd
Producer: Cloudeater
Let me just say that my man, Lloyd kills EVERYTHING (I don’t do that pause sh*t). This song was decent. But again, I felt Wale’s flow needed a little work. But overall, I thought the concept was great. I felt that his doing this song while he had a cold was something different and maybe the realism that I felt was missing in his music for some time now. (So far, so good, no “trap music” on the album yet)
Grade: B

“White Linen (Coolin)”
Feature: Ne-Yo
Producer: Deputy
The one song that I felt was unnecessary for the album. Ne-Yo just isn’t the same. I really felt that this song was as close to being forced as you can get without actually stepping over that line. Again, I felt like the flow was wrong for the record. It was just too bouncy. The song wasn’t terrible, but it just doesn’t do anything for me.
Grade: C+

“Slight Work”
Feature: Big Sean
Producer: Diplo
To be honest, I have never really liked Big Sean. He is the corniest rapper out in my opinion. The reason I say that is because he doesn’t have to be corny but he works so hard at it. With that said, I understand why Wale wanted to keep this song on the album. I think he was trying to feed off of Big Sean’s energy right now because of the reception of his music in clubs. So I get it (from that aspect), but it just didn’t work for me although I understand it. This is obviously a concert performance song.
Grade: C-

“Ambition”
Feature: Meek Mill, Rick Ross
Producer: T-Minus
Please tell me that this song doesn’t remind you of those MasterCard commercials. This song sounds like T-Minus made this beat right after he made “She Will” by Drake (I don’t acknowledge Wayne on the song for obvious reasons). I also thought the hook was dry. Anyway, I feel like Meek killed it with the flow, even though the subject matter never changes for him. Ross can really do no wrong these days, and he gets the same criticism from me that Meek Mill gets. Honestly, I like this song but in my mind the song was over after Rozay’s verse. Wale’s verse was good though. However, Meek got the proverbial ‘W’ on this track. Wale was so close when he said, “Lebron shit, I was in a 6 after 23.” But then he ruined it with, “I got that green on my eye, and that ain’t no Donnie Simpson.” I was like “Whyyyyyyy?!?!?!???” Overall good song though.
Grade: B+
*I have this track on a constant loop.

“Illest Bitch”
Producer: Tha Bizness
Again, with the bouncy flow?!?!??? This guy just doesn’t get it sometimes. The hook sounds heavily influenced by “My Beautiful Dark Fantasy” Kanye. However, I feel like the poetry at the end was exactly what was needed at the end. I was actually impressed. But the flow!!!!!!!
Grade: A
*I have this track on a constant loop.

“No Days Off”
Producer: DJ Toomp
This song definitely indicates that the CD was about to wrap up. It’s hard for me to listen to this song. But I understand why some people would like it. It dawns the moniker of his very familiar hash tag on Twitter. I swear I can spot a Toomp beat from a mile away.
Grade: C

“DC or Nothing”
Producer: Tone P
I feel like this song was this song was needed for “the city of the slow death” as Wale so eloquently puts it. You can truly feel his love for the city. You can also feel his plight, pain, and struggle for “general acceptance” within his entire city. This is the one song where the flow doesn’t really bother me too much. Again, the poetry at the end was a good touch and exactly how to close out a CD.
Grade: B+

*Bonus Track* “That Way”
Feature: Jeremiah, Rick Ross
Producer: Lex Luger
Good song. Once again, I feel like the flow need some fine tuning. To be honest, I’ve always felt like Rick Ross’ presence wasn’t needed on this song. Aside from the fact he wasn’t saying anything all. Jeremiah killed the hook. Wale’s lyrics were good as well as memorable. Overall good song (as you can tell by its positioning on the charts).
Grade: B-

*Itunes Bonus Track* “Bait”
Feature: Tone P
Producer: Tone P
I like this song. But I really feel like this song was really one for US (The DMV area). I just don’t see songs like this reaching the general public. However, I applaud Wale’s fight to promote his area’s native sound. So I definitely get it.
Grade: B

Final Thoughts
I wasn’t sure how his signing to Maybach Music Group was going to impact his career or even the direction of his music for that matter. I was pleasantly surprised by the cohesiveness of this album. Although the MMG tag was unnecessarily at the beginning of some tracks, I felt like it didn’t take away from any of the song. I was also happy that he kept his DC producers at the core of the album. I felt that the other tracks were built around them. I couldn’t help but wonder where the Osinachi’s presence was on this album. But Mark Henry has potential to become something special in this rap game as does Best Kept Secret’s Tone P. At the end of the day Maybach Music has only placed Wale career on a higher plateau than would have been expected after the release of “Attention: Deficit” (Wale’s First CD). Although my hard criticism for this man’s flow will never stop (until it varies), I’m truly pushing for him to do well. He finally has the right backing with MMG and I feel like he can reach the top of the rap game with his well-documented work ethic as well as undying love for his craft, his city, as well as hip hop. So overall, Wale, I respect you sir.
Overall Grade: B+
-HenryVIII

 

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