On Attention Deficit, we found Wale still discovering himself, but what he brought to the table was undeniable: a unique flow. Wale’s voice and lyrical delivery have become his most recognizable characteristics. Sure, some of his lyrics are crazy, but Wale’s trademark is his rhythm. In Ambition, Wale has essentially perfected his flow — something that he had been experimenting with in his debut album almost two years ago.
The album opens with a nod to Wale’s newfound successes. He’s cocky, but he can afford to be. On “Don’t Hold Your Applause,” the album opens to a production that perfectly complements the delivery we remember from his past work. His previous album transitions perfectly toAmbition. The next two tracks recall his mixtape flow; “Double M Genius” and “Miami Nights” could hold their own on 100 Miles and Running.
Of course, Maybach Music Group has had its share of influence on Wale’s sound. “Legendary” and “No Days Off” have a Rick Ross feel to them. These and the other tracks that include Ross seem a bit unnatural. It’s not that they are bad songs; they just may not belong on this album.
The highest point of the album is in the middle. “Focused” and “Slight Work” offer instant repeats. Perhaps it’s the involvement of Kid Cudi and Big Sean on both tracks that add to their flavor, but both songs evoke the Wale of old — just a bit more polished.
Finally, no Wale album is complete without an ode to the DMV (District/Maryland/Virginia). “DC or Nothing” is this album’s ballad. This time, however, Wale’s shout out to D.C. is not a club track like”Chillin’.” There is no Lady Gaga cooing at the chorus or talk of cars and frames but rather a realistic look at D.C.’s current state. Wale elegantly paints an optimistic portrait of the District in spite of its poverty, disease and crime. It’s grim, but he offers hope and a glimpse of the city’s promise. This is the lyrical pinnacle of the album.
The beauty of Wale’s album is rooted in its consistency with his mixtape and his debut persona. He is what he was, only better.
So don’t worry: Wale has not switched up his style. He’s still D.C. chillin’.