Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Wale: Highly Ambitious

Wale Wale (Photo - Smallz Raskind)

“My story, contrary to belief, is only about materialism to a small degree - '600 Benz' is not about a car, it’s about hustling, it’s about drive and why we adapt to materialism.”

Wale or Olubowale Victor Akintimehin being his government name, has gone from an aspiring DC rapper in 2005 to the most prominent rap figure from DC to reach the higher echelons of the rap fraternity.

2012 and two more mix-tapes in 2010 & 2011 respectively, Wale drops his sophomore offering "Ambitious" (2011). Now signed to Rick Ross’ Maybach label, fans and critics have been filled with fear that Wale will be transformed into a hyper stereotypical misogynistic rapper where every other word or phrase is ‘biatch’ and ‘suck this shit’- an idea that Wale positively balks at: “rap is about saying something - when I get promotion money I ain’t going out wanting to promote just gibberish."

I got a little time with the man himself on top of a rooftop to talk about Wale’s grind to get into the business, Rick Ross and his Nigerian origins.

Before we get onto your music I want to ask you about being the biggest DC emcee.

You are right, to be from DC where no one has ever broken out in rap was unheard of - it gets me caught up! What I did was more impossible than getting drafted into the first round in the NBA- that’s CRAZY- a DC emcee to be known as a top ten emcee in the world. You talking about a DC kid who went to school with all degenerates who found a way to be top ten - I do not care if you do not like my twitter image or whatever, you cannot deny that.

And what set you apart from the other rappers?

I never really took no for answer! I was always good - individuality when everybody was wearing Jordan's, I was wearing SB’s, when everybody started wearing SB’s, I was wearing Jordan's - I was just individual, I was also comfortable being an individual and comfortable telling my story."

And what is your story?

My story, contrary to believe, is only about materialism to a small degree, '600 Benz' is not about a car, it’s about hustling, it’s about drive and why we adapt to materialism. It's crazy that if I came out in '96, that message would have come across, but these youngers really think that is what these songs is about.

Your heritage is Nigerian and rapping can be frowned upon - Wale how did your parents take it?

(Laughs) Ok so here you got this young kid, already got tats and the dreads, so I am already trouble for them… but I made it! And I STILL got the dreads! They looking at me now like “this boy” but they cannot be mad at me because I showed them that I can do it and I HAVE done it - [He takes a long drag of something smoky!]

Wale's album "Ambition" is still available from all good retailers.

You can read more from Semper's interview with Wale in our printed edition of B&S - click below to order your copy now.
Words Semper Azeez-Harris

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