released on 11.10.2009
Album: Attention Deficit
The debut opus from the DMV’s own Wale, ATTENTION DEFICIT, made it’s way to store shelves on November 10, 2009. That date however, only marked the realization of endless possibility, for a region that has housed an enormous amout of talent in the hip-hop realm for years.
D.a C.rabs-n-a-barrel capital of the world. Home to the Go-Go sound, godfathered by the legendary Chuck Brown, got flow and been had it. A city with a mayor famous for messing with that white girl, a rough and rugged inner piece of urbana, with many a rose that rises from concrete… that gets masked by negative shade. With any number of styles of rhymer, based on the melting pot of neighborhoods, styles of living, upbringing and pockets of existence in this power packed locale– who would have thought that a quick-witted, wordsmith would be the first to blow.
Quiet as kept, of the mixtapes Wale (pronounced: wah-lay) dropped before his debut, “A Mixtape About Nothing” was my favorite, with “100 Miles and Running” being a close second. Unlike many, his release directly preceding his album, “Back to the Feature” did nothing for me. It was cool, but failed to live up to the steady ascension in hi-quality material that was produced before it. Could be due to the fact that there were so many features, that it just didn’t show-case Mr. Folarin in a proper light, I don’t know for sure. But that’s just this man’s opinion.
ATTENTION DEFICIT (4 out of 5), in a nutshell was a very-very strong album. Thanks to the NET, Wale gave away alot of the tracks that did not make the final cut, but I have to say of the one’s I heard… I’m not sure where they would have fit. The album was just arranged extremely well. The whole move and vibe to it, read like a good book. “PRESCRIPTION” the closing track illustrated the type of clever wordplay that Wale listeners have grown accustomed to on his mixtapes. So much so, that at first listen, I thought it should have been his intro. To serve notice to the newer Wale listener, just the type of artist they were being exposed to. This man is not a D-boy turned rapper who can’t rhyme (hey some of them can rhyme, but there are more of them that can’t, lol), so if your hip-hop taste is limited strictly to that and thumping tracks, you are about to be grossly disappointed. “MAMA TOLD ME,” was the ideal second track, just because. Speaking on hip-hop’s current state and his place in it now and into the immediate future. Some of what he went through to get to the point that he’s at now. Quality track. That’s followed by “MIRRORS” (feat. Bun-B), which further cements my statement of the steady movement of the vibe of this album. As this track picks up where “Mama Told…” leaves off. Explaining how posers are the reason that the game is in the state that its in now. Too much cookie-cutter fakeness. INDUSTRY… PAY ATTENTION (the same can be said for all genre’s of music).
That brings us to “PRETTY GIRLS.” HEAVY SIGH!!! The original cranked like sh!t. Then they went and put Gucci (BRRRRRRR) Mane on it. Man GOT DAYUUUM!!! I’m not even gonna lie to you, the first time I heard this new version was before the album dropped. To say I was pissed would be an understatement. Okay I wasn’t pissed, but I did say out loud… “sometimes I can’t stand the record industry.” Could be, because I’m not a Gucci fan, although I have grown to find him entertaining, but whatever. Over time, “PRETTY GIRLS” has slid back into the regular ATTENTION DEFICIT rotation in the ride and the ipod and laptop. But that may be because,I can’t get away from that percussion and Weensey (dat good Backyard) on the hook. If you watched the BET Hip-Hop Awards and saw the performance (best of the night), then you understand. The DMV was in there. But I digress. Let’s move around through this review, which is already a month overdue. *EHEM*
To the naked and untrained eye, you may see an album consisting of 14 tracks. 10 of which have features on them. But in my personal opinion, they are all smart features. A heavyweight like Bun B (who Wale has worked with b4) on “MIRRORS” was a smart feature. A feature like K’naan on “TV IN THE RADIO” (whose hook I’m not a fan of, but the song is real spit… listen to it), was a true testament to the type of range in this game Wale has. Where he can do a track wit a Bun B, then come back and do a track with a K’naan, whose a talented artist in his own right… but not the first name that comes to mind, when you say you have an album with Bun B on it, ya’dig. A feature like Skateboard P (Pharrell) on “LET IT LOOSE” kinda makes sense and matches well if you are familiar with Wale. This was another track that didn’t really turn over like a semi-wet jheri curl, the first few times I heard it. But after a few more listens, the last 16 bars kinda changed my mind. Ever since, I’ve been a fan of the track. As for features such as, “WORLD TOUR” (featuring Jazmine Sullivan) and “SHADES” (featuring Chrisette Michelle), those were uber-smart. These tracks could have been pulled off with a lesser known female vocalists, but works so much better with them on it. In my personal opinion, I look at features like this… you want someone who is going to add to the track and work well with your sound (1), and (2) you don’t want to get outshined on your own sh!t, ya’dig, lol. For the majority of this album, I think that held true. The one close exception is “BEAUTIFUL BLISS” (featuring Melanie Fiona and J. Cole). Arguably my second favorite track on this album after “SHADES” … .. . be clear, the young homie J. COLE… GOES IN!!! I had heard of J. Cole be4, I have family in NC where dude is from, but I had never heard him. Man he attacked that track something fierce. Yet I digress…
Lastly, subject matter. Let’s see, Wale addressed the industry – his place in the industry – he let us party a lil’bit. He started off great. THEN, he threw a cut-slider high inside. Or moving back to my football speak, he chop-blocked at the line of listening, with “90210.” I’m gonna chalk that one up to his newfound celebrity, and hanging out in different “scenes” around different types of people. It came completely out of left field. I wish I knew where the idea for that track came from. It’s not a bad track, it’s actually a very good one in the vein that he was providing food for thought on a very serious and real issue for some young women in the world. It just kinda sticks out. If there is any song on the album that I could swap out for another, it would be this one. Again, not because it’s bad, but because it just kinda appears out of nowhere and does its own thing on the album, if that makes any sense. From there we get “SHADES” (my favorite track on the album). Talk about sharing yourself (your past) with the listener. Man this is the kind of material that you don’t get out of hip-hop artists ever. And if you do, it’s not until like their 3rd or 4th album. Add on top of that, the warm honey laid sound of Chrisette Michelle on the hook. Maaan, that song is like food to the malnourished. Amazing. Songs like, “CONTEMPLATE” (featuring Rhianna) work wonders towards sharing more of Wale to the masses, again in a way that many hip-hop artists, just don’t do. And lastly, “DIARY” (featuring Marsha Ambrosius). This song deserves an award. Every young black woman in America should be given this song, and told to aspire for gr8ness in everything… because you (they) deserve it… so expect and accept nothing less. Nothing else I can say about this song, will do it justice. Wait there is something. If you have a daughter, or know a young woman who may be heading down the wrong path, or that may be experiencing moments of feeling unloved… or who has just been through a lot. PLAY THIS SONG FOR THEM. It’s that serious of a song. AMAZING!!!
With all of that said and I said a mouthful, that is my view of ATTENTION DEFICIT. A very necessary album, for the avid true hip-hop fan, to let them know… there very well may be some positive future to this genre after all. We all have our musical tastes, and there’s many forms of hip-hop to listen to. But as long as you are not a locked into one type of lane listener, you will be very pleased with this debut major label release, from the DMV’s WALE!!!
Trust me, if it’s one thing I’m not gonna do, it’s steer you wrong as readers of anything I speak on. I’m nobody, but somebody at the same time.
Wale’s ATTENTION DEFICIT, definitely gets STAMPED by me and mines.
NA-NA NA NA
NA-NA NA NA
HEY HEY HEY
GOOD BYE (BYE BYE-BYE BYE BYE-BYE HEY)