I feel like my fans are supporting me right now, and as long as they do that, I’m 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 didn’t put none out. Now we’ve flipped that into like 210,000 sold.
Do you still have that fear though? What if your next album does the same number?
Ain’t no fear because I know I’ve connected with the people this time. It ain’t going to do what Attention Deficit did, there’s 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 it’s only in the booth. That’s the only place. Nowhere else. In the booth niggas think, “What? Put the beat on.” You’re going to hear it on the Self Made album. The first thing you hear me say is, “They trying to tell me I don’t fit up in this muthafucka/They’re trying to tell me I don’t spit up in this muthafucka/Cause Rozay be talking white, he thinks he’s Uncle Ruckus.” That’s the first line. That’s 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 that’s the mentality I grew up in because I’m black. I’ve been trained to believe the world hates niggas. It’s 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, “Don’t do nothing,” and they took me out the car, and they pulled the gun out on my man and everything. I’ve seen it all. I’m not bitter to nobody man. If I was bitter I wouldn’t even talk to a lot of them. I wouldn’t be doing no interviews.
I’ve been around niggas like that my whole life. Rick Ross is an authentic nigga. Like, there’s certain things I’ve got to leave out this interview, but I know about Meek. He’s a street nigga, for real. These niggas is street niggas.
Especially with Complex. I thought they were really trying to...I’m not going to lie, I was a little bit offended. I thought there’s a market that myself, Cudi, and a couple other artists helped. [We didn’t help it] survive, because Marc Ecko doesn’t need none of us. But I felt it was a company that we helped keep thriving. Them little kids in DC, they wouldn’t know nothing about no damn Nudies and no damn APCs and all that if it wasn’t for me. So I’m more or less the mid-Atlantic ambassador for the alternative lifestyle that Complex is promoting. We—and when I say we, I’m including myself and the niggas at Complex—are the people in the school that are like, “What the fuck is those? What’s that?”
But it’s also hard because most of the time the guy that was like, “Yo what’s that?” 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 it’s easy for someone who is in our world—the Complex world—to be like, ‘I don’t really like him that much, because he doesn’t seem like he’s really in our world.’
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 they’re fickle. They like me, but very conditionally.
Does Wale just want everyone to like him?
I did at one point but now I can’t because I don’t 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?
I’ve just got to keep making music man, and hope God sees me through it. It’s working. All my shows are packed.
Do feel like you fit in with Ross and company?
Listen, I’ve been around niggas like that my whole life. Rick Ross is an authentic nigga. Like, there’s certain things I’ve got to leave out this interview, but I know about Meek. He’s a street nigga, for real. These niggas is street niggas. I’m 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.