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Posted: Apr 27 2011, 09:18 PM
I'm better than you in everyway
Member No.: 13
Joined: 12-June 07
When Wale first started buzzing a few years back, he was seen as a member of hip-hopís new class of cool. Just like Kid Cudi, Drake, and B.o.B, Mr. Folarin blew up after releasing acclaimed mixtapes (The Mixtape About Nothing and 100 Miles & Running) and fostering an alternative style that hip-hop fans who grew up on Kanye West were oh so ready for. He was signed to Interscope, graced the cover of XXL's Freshman issue, and got Lady Gaga on his first single. Everything was going according to plan.
But no plan ever goes according to plan. Things starts going wrong when Wale dropped his debut album, Attention Deficit, in late 2009 and sold a meager 28,000 his first week. For a while, his career seemed adrift. But then he got some unexpected help when Rick Ross reached out and signed him to Maybach Music Group imprint. With MMGís debut album, Self Made Vol. 1, on the wayóalong with his sophomore set (heís flirting with the title Artistic Integrity) on the horizonóthereís a renewed interest in the once promising MC. As the D.C. native gears up to become the star many once believed he would be, we sat down with him to talk about his upcoming Kid Cudi collaboration, his public perception, and why he wants to be known as the best rapper of 2011.
How did you get cool with Cudi again?
Cudi just called me. He was like, ďMan, I fucks with you man, you know?Ē We just had a real brother conversation. It was a long conversation but a lot of things needed to be said. Some of the things that he said hurt and Iím sure some of the things Iíve said or done probably hurt. The nigga told me what was on his mind and I respect that.
We handled it like men. Thatís my man. We wouldnít want to keep going on not being friends. Iím about to do my second album, Cudi is working on his rock album. We just felt like itís time. Like, ďMan, we used to be cool. We used to hang every day. Fuck all the bullshit.Ē We both had a little bit of turmoil in our lives, but weíre both in a happy place now.
We talk all the time now. We talk about whatís going on in life. The thing about me and him is we always talk about whatís going on beyond music. We always used to do that and now weíre back on that now. If you see our text messages, itís like, ďWhatís up man? I just had a bad couple of days. Itís awesome man.Ē Heís like, ďMe too nigga, Iím good though.Ē Shit like that. Cudi is my man yo. Heís one of my true friends in this game.
Will you guys be working together?
Heís going to be on my upcoming album. When we first got cool again, he said, ďWhat have you been working on?Ē I said, ďThis song that I just got. You would sound good on it." The song is produced by this guy from France, Spiff TV actually brought me the beat. He recorded it from his iPhone, Rossí producer mixed it down, and it sounds like a real song. Heís actually redoing the hook. Itís kind of a Camp-Lo vibe. I donít want to call it what we say throughout the song which is, "Rolling, we rolling, we rolling."
Will you be on his album?
Nah because his is more rock-ish and heís just in his zone right now. When Cudiís in his zone, the best thing to do is let him be in his zone, and heíll let you be in it when heís not so intense.
Switching gears, youíre rolling with Maybach Music now. Do you worry about maybe alienating your original fanbase?
The music is the same though. Ď600 Benz,í if you put that over a 9th Wonder beat or a Primo beat, I could rap the same thing. Iím trying to get my same message out there, but in a different way. Ď600 Benzí is about aspiring. Itís about ambition, drive, and hustling.
My old fans know what Iím doing. I do records like ď4 AMĒ [for my old fans]. Iím just a fan of music. I just like to participate in it all. I did a record with Stephen Marley and then did a record with Shawty Lo the next day. Thatís just me. Itís hard to balance, but I just stopped trying to balance and I just make the music now. Youíre either going to fuck with it or not. If you donít, fuck you.
[Cudi and I] just felt like itís time. Like, ďMan, we used to be cool. We used to hang every day. Fuck all the bullshit.Ē We both had a little bit of turmoil in our lives, but weíre both in a happy place now.
And thatís why I made a song called "Artistic Integrity" before, because itís about what I want to do. I canít give you the sound you want to hear because itís the sound I want to make. If I want to talk about the fucking sex trade on a fucking Lex Luger beat that sounds "B.M.F."-esque then let me do that! Thatís what I want to do. Just because Iím making a deep song about deep shit, it doesnít mean I have to go be deep sounding.
Iím the deep-thinking, spend too much money on sneakers, member of Maybach Music. Iím not out there trying to do what Pillís doing or Rozayís doing. I am the deep-thinking, overly analyticalĖmaybe sometimes emotionalóbut itís that same emotional as ĎPac for me. What they call emotional now, they call it whining.
I canít say, "Oh, my communityís fucked up. The way theyíre treating niggas is fucked up." Theyíre going to be like, "Shut up Wale. Youíre whining." Thatís just how it is. But Iím going to give you everything that I feel. Ross will tell you, Iím going to be honest like, ďYo Ross, I love this girl. I love her,Ē or ďI got my heart broke by this girl.Ē Iíll tell the world whatever. Itís me.
You previously mentioned that ďeverybody knows the Wale saga.Ē When you look back on that now, how do you...
The irony in that is that everybody knows [the Wale saga], but the people that really know me, know that Iím just misunderstood. I always wanted to be this likable guy, but itís like no matter what I do, Iím never going to be perceived as that. Itís just not in the cards for me. Iím a little awkward. I stepped off in the middle of the interviewónot to be rudeóbut I just stepped off. I canít control it. Iíll just leave. I almost want to get up there and holler [at those dudes over there] eating and come back.
I have a bad memory, I donít remember everybody. Iím not good at that. J. Cole will remember everybody. People love J. Cole because of that. But Iíve gotten such a bad rap like, "Wale has a bad attitude." Itís not that. Iím just very to myself, I think 24/7, I donít remember people, but I love the shit out of all these people.
I obsess over the Complexís, the XXLís, the RapRadarís, the 2DopeBoyz. I obsess over their appreciation for what Iím doing because I feel like what Iím doing is great. When people donít think itís great, Iím like, "Why? How? We heard the same things?" And I just got the tag as "the guy who complains." Itís just, Iím very passionate.
The same way I defend my shit, I defend other music that I like in closed circles. And Iím also the dude who might flip out on somebody on Twitter. Iím a real person. Thatís one thing you canít say about Wale, that heís going to give you a fake Wale. And I feel like one day my music is going to have that impact because Iím so passionate about my fans and about the genre.
Itís just so polarizing when youíre in it. Itís like, "How is niggas looking at us right now? Are we winning?" Sometimes when youíre winning you donít even get to enjoy it because you didnít even know you were winning this whole time.
Do you feel like youíre winning now?
I feel like my fans are supporting me right now, and as long as they do that, Iím always going to be winning.
Was there ever a time when you felt like you were losing?
When 28,000 records first week came out, for that week I did. But then I realized it had nothing to do with my fans. It was a poor layout, like they didnít put none out. Now weíve flipped that into like 210,000 sold.
Do you still have that fear though? What if your next album does the same number?
Ainít no fear because I know Iíve connected with the people this time. It ainít going to do what Attention Deficit did, thereís no way. I could do that in a couple hours.
Do you have a chip on your shoulder?
I do have a little bit of a chip on my shoulder but itís only in the booth. Thatís the only place. Nowhere else. In the booth niggas think, ďWhat? Put the beat on.Ē Youíre going to hear it on the Self Made album. The first thing you hear me say is, ďThey trying to tell me I donít fit up in this muthafucka/Theyíre trying to tell me I donít spit up in this muthafucka/Cause Rozay be talking white, he thinks heís Uncle Ruckus.Ē Thatís the first line. Thatís the first thing you hear from me and I fit.
You mention being misunderstood and you talk about learning...
Sometimes I wake up and think the world hates me. I feel like the industry might hate me. But thatís the mentality I grew up in because Iím black. Iíve been trained to believe the world hates niggas. Itís society. Like, being pulled over at church and being 14 years old? It makes you look at the police differently. There were times when I was in the front seat and they told me, ďDonít do nothing,Ē and they took me out the car, and they pulled the gun out on my man and everything. Iíve seen it all. Iím not bitter to nobody man. If I was bitter I wouldnít even talk to a lot of them. I wouldnít be doing no interviews.
Especially with Complex. I thought they were really trying to...Iím not going to lie, I was a little bit offended. I thought thereís a market that myself, Cudi, and a couple other artists helped. [We didnít help it] survive, because Marc Ecko doesnít need none of us. But I felt it was a company that we helped keep thriving. Them little kids in DC, they wouldnít know nothing about no damn Nudies and no damn APCs and all that if it wasnít for me. So Iím more or less the mid-Atlantic ambassador for the alternative lifestyle that Complex is promoting. Weóand when I say we, Iím including myself and the niggas at Complexóare the people in the school that are like, ďWhat the fuck is those? Whatís that?Ē
But itís also hard because most of the time the guy that was like, ďYo whatís that?Ē was the guy that knew about the Internet, knew about fucking mastering records, and all that shit before everybody. I was also that nigga, as well as a football player. They were two different people on the social ladder. And then you had the D-boys. I was all of those, I just never sold drugs consistently. So itís easy for someone who is in our worldóthe Complex worldóto be like, ĎI donít really like him that much, because he doesnít seem like heís really in our world.í
Well Rick Ross is in that D-boy world...
Right, and they like me.
And the Internet world, they like you too.
In our world theyíre fickle. They like me, but very conditionally.
Does Wale just want everyone to like him?
I did at one point but now I canít because I donít have a super big fan-base of any one type of person. I have a little bit from a lot of different people, black women, OG niggas that like that old Reasonable Doubt shit, hipsters, D-boys, ghetto girls, college girls, college dudes, the college crowd.
I feel like you have 10% of each group, instead of 100% of one group.
Is that ever going to work?
Iíve just got to keep making music man, and hope God sees me through it. Itís working. All my shows are packed.
Do feel like you fit in with Ross and company?
Listen, Iíve been around niggas like that my whole life. Rick Ross is an authentic nigga. Like, thereís certain things Iíve got to leave out this interview, but I know about Meek. Heís a street nigga, for real. These niggas is street niggas. Iím all about integrity. When they say all that shit about Ross it makes me mad because I know what he really is. I know how much he means to Miami on the street side.
You said you were hurt by Complex?
I was hurt man. Just because I felt like Complex was trying to perpetuate certain things. And it was a real part of my life. I knew I was going to be good, but I just didnít know where I was going or what I was doing. Thatís when you feel like your worldís crashing down. Imagine leaving your job, for whatever reason. You leave and you donít know what youíre about to do. You just donít have faith in your craft. Then your favorite publication and your brother seem like theyíre like...it just felt real bad. Not a lot of things can hurt Wale, but that did. And no matter what I would have said at that time [of the Kid Cudi cover story], it would have looked like sarcastic or whatever. Itís a weird place in your life man.
Youíre older now, so you can regroup. But youíve got to keep going. Iím glad we got to do this, because I just want to build with Complex again. Itís a different me now. Iím not trying to compete. A lot of us were getting caught up in that, so we didnít really work as much. Now everybody is cool because we know what it is now. Weíre just happy to be around.
Were you depressed at that time?
Nah. I just didnít want to do shit.
You didnít want to do shit? Thatís depression.
I wasnít really depressed because I was still living my life, dating, and doing shows and shit.
What got you through that time?
The fans did.
Because you were doing shows and theyíd still be there supporting you?
It never dropped at all. And a lot of people, if you do 28K it will drop. Theyíve got more rich. The shows didnít slow down. It never slowed. It was weird for us, we were kind of waiting for the big [dropoff], but it just never happened. And then the looks just kept coming in. We would do shows and Iíd ask, ďIs the quote going down?Ē And itíd be like, ďNah.Ē Itís like it never connected with the fans that I wasnít selling records. Thatís why I love my fans to death. They were the people who bought Attention Deficit. The people who bought the album are the people who went to those shows. It was a hard album to find. Very hard to find.
Do those same fans want you to be on Lex Luger beats, rolling with Maybach?
It shouldnít matter. If youíre a real Wale fan, it shouldnít matter to you. How can you tell somebody who to hang with? You know what Iím saying? Some of my fans may hang with fucking atheists and devil worshippers. I canít tell you who to hang with. I grew up with niggas like Ross and them. Theyíre more like the people I grew up with than Mark Ronson. I might listen to Mark Ronsonís shit more than I listen to fucking Lex Lugerís shit.
I hope the fans understand that the album's not going to sound like a hundred Lex Luger beats and Wale. Itís going to sound the way Attention Deficit meant to sound.
But I hope the fans understand that the album's not going to sound like a hundred Lex Luger beats and Wale. Itís going to sound the way Attention Deficit meant to sound. Itís still going to have the great syntax. I still want to work with KíNaan. But you know how hard it was to get such and such in the studio before? Such and such ainít no problem now. No problem. But this time now, Iím at the point where I realize I donít need such and such. I could do my whole album with any producer. Iím so in a zone right now. When I signed with Warner and they heard my new songs, even they were surprised. They were like, ďI didnít know Wale was like that.Ē
Iím not playing. I want to be known as the best rapper in 2011. The best. I want to be the best lyricist. If you could read Wale's words, you could sing his words, you could fucking put them in braille, youíre going to know thatís one of the best fucking rappers of 2011. Wale emerged as the best rapper. I want niggas to be like, ďMan, when it comes to spitting that shit, youíve got to put Waleís name with anybody.Ē
Iím going to always have money. If I stopped tomorrow Iíd find a way to make money. Iíve always been able to make money. I want to be the best. Listen to ď4 AM.Ē Itís another Wale on there. Iím evolving. Right before your eyes itís evolving. Iím turning into something that nobody can really put a finger on. Ross told me the other day, he was like, ďDog, you are about to be one of the best rappers in the game, lyrically.Ē I believe in that. I donít know if I believed in that all the way the first time around. I knew I was good. Now I know I can be great.
Where would you be now if you didnít sign to Maybach Music?
We had some deals on the table. A lot, actually. A lot of other artists were like, ďYo, I can get you a better joint.Ē
What is your situation with Interscope? Did you get dropped?
It was a mutual thing. We sat down and were like, ďHow into this project are you?Ē The money was going to different little places. It was good. I love all of those guys: Jimmy, Andrew Flad, all of those guys. It was just time for another vibe.
So now when your album drops itís like Warner Brothers and Maybach Music?
Yup. No Interscope. And Roc Nation still manages me. I just talked to Jay-Z today. Iíve known Jay for about six years and Iíve never seen him that excited for me, ever. He was like, ďI just need you to know that I love your energy. I love your vibe. I love everything youíre doing right now.Ē