Wale, for me, is at his best when he gives a ton of introspection and thoughts on his process and growth. When he talks about his journey, he connects with me on a level that he doesn’t when he’s just dropping dope singles or what have you. That’s probably why I still play More About Nothing in 2019 versus playing, say, Shine. That’s not to say that Shine is a horrible project, but it just didn’t hit me the same way. That’s probably why my review of it was middling.
Flashbacks aside, Wale’s latest effort, Wow…That’s Crazy peels back every layer possible for the DMV native.
From the gospel-sampling intro “Sue Me,” where he details his plight while also celebrating his Blackness–and ours–to the Megan Thee Stallion-aided “Poledancer,” Wale gives us his soul, his spirit, his essence. We get insight on his struggles with mental illness, his inability to trust many people, theloss of people close to him, and constant reminders of why people fell in love with Ralph Folarin in the first place. “Expectations,” for example, discusses Wale seeking therapeutic relief, either through therapy or other medicinal means. He’s as focused as he’s been in years and it shows.
Wale’s always been lyrically sound. Say what you will about whatever, but he’s always had bars. Crazy showcases that over a wide variety of instrumentation. Production and subject-wise, he takes the best parts of projects like Shine, The Album About Nothing, and some of his mixtapes and improves on them like a sage finally reaching his apex.
Another problem for with Wale’s past endeavors is that his guest features sometimes effectively removed him from the song, due to them delivering incredible verses in the space. Here, for everyone who appears, Wale steps it up. For example, the song “Cliche” features Ari Lennox on the hook and Boogie. Lennox’s hook is beautiful while Boogie does what Boogie does (if you’ve been sleep on him, wake up). However, Wale’s portion of the jazzy discussion on commitment issues and the effect relationships can have on our mental health still shines through as vulnerable but also lyrically impressive. In fact, each feature complements Wale’s thoughts and journey versus battling against him for headspace.
Wow…That’s Crazy is the album that I’ve personally been waiting for from Wale for a while. It knocks sonically. His features build upon what he’s putting down. His introspection never wanders into whiny territory. Check out the album above and remember to support dope music in all its forms.