Wale 'Attention Deficit' Album Review
"I know how to do it now. There are nearly thirteen million people in the world. None of those people is an extra. They're all the leads of their own stories. They have to be given their due." -Charlie KaufmanRecently I saw something so incomprehensible, so mind bending and confusing that it took repeat viewings with full attention to fully comprehend its brilliance. 'Synecdoche, New York' is a dark drama about a man who whose personal life is falling apart that he consumes himself in his art. He proceeds to create and direct a theater piece so massive and and consuming that it becomes his life. In Synecdoche life doesn't imitate art, life is art and we are the extra's until we realize that we are not. Charlie Kaufman is a brilliant artist who weaves this tale of art and life and a hard to pronounce city. A writer who is elusive, narcissistic, self-indulgent, and somewhat sociopathic which are all of the traits that make him brilliant.
Wale (pronounced Wah-Lay) is the Charlie Kaufman of hip-hop. Highly talented, he is able to lyrically weave visual stories and metaphors that are thrown at you so fast that your brain is playing catch up with his words. The title of the his debut album 'Attention Deficit' is very fitting because far too often do we as consumers not listeners actually pay attention to the types of entertainment that is being fed to us. We may hear a song but do we actually listen to the content and structure? Do we see it as just the jam of the moment or view it as an artistic expression of creativity.
'Attention Deficit' opens with 'Triumph' with drums and horns blaring Wale show's off his lyrical prowess and braggadocio early with a style and flair that makes the most arrogant rapper go what he just say? On 'Pretty Girls' Wale is assisted by the hottest guilty pleasure of the moment Gucci Mane another rapper so brilliantly ignorant that he's suited perfectly for this guest spot. A personal favorite of mine is the obligatory for the ladies in the club 'Let It Loose' assisted by Pharrell Williams on hook duties. Channeling his Blackstar/India.Arie side Wale goes in on 'Shades' where he effortlessly raps about the color complex in a way that is entertaining and profound.
The production on Attention Deficit is very energetic and trendy. Forgoing some of the downtempo beats that would work well with his lyrics and delivery, the album leans towards an almost electronic dance vibe. That can be attributed to his D.C. and Baltimore roots where high energy dance music reigns and somehow makes the music more easily accessible to more listeners. Bring em in with the beats and knock them down with the lyrics.
But don't take this praise party lightly because everything doesn't work on the album and a couple of tracks failed to hold my attention. 'TV On The Radio' is a misstep on the album, the Pee Wee Herman dance sounding beat is horrible and Wale sounds lazy on the track and the guest star K'naan doesn't add anything to this lackluster track. '90210' also falls short, in it's fairytale beat and story that plays like a Sunday afternoon common sense PSA, it doesn't work.
The gem of the album is in it's finale, but I won't give it away in this review because like the final act of any good play or film it should be discovered and be allowed to sit with you after it's over so you can ponder and think about what you just witnessed. Just like in Synecdoche, just like in life, you must pay attention to get the complete story.
JayTeeDee gives Wale 'Attention Deficit' 6 out of 7 Head Nods
* Head Nod Scale
1=Don't waste your time like I did mine.
2=Waste your time like I did mine but I dare you to disagree.
3=Well, there was the single.
4=If it were a hand in spades there's "two and a possible".
5=It's a "good" album. Meaning at least 3 or 4 solid songs.
6=Really Good Project. Has the "Rewind Factor" more than once.
7=The number of completion. Great Album. Instant Classic.