Wale and Kid Cudi are only a few years into their careers, but their relationship is already shaping up to be an epic saga. The two rappers became friends back in 2009, sharing an XXL Freshman cover, and even linking up for a classic collaboration, "Is There Any Love."
That song title took on a whole new meaning when things between Wale and Cudi went sour. Their issues first went public with Cudi's explosive Complex interview, in which he dissed Wale and birthed the meme, "We don't fuck with you musically." To make matters worse, both rappers were struggling with different challenges at the time of their falling out. For Wale, the challenge came in the form of a commercially disappointing debut album, Attention Deficit. Cudi's challenges were more personal: rumors of drug abuse and an arrest for possession of liquid cocaine.
Since then Cudi's gotten clean and dropped his sophomore album, Man on The Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager. Meanwhile Wale's turned his career around, signing with Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group and releasing the well-received Self Made Vol. 1along with his MMG brethren. Best of all, Cudi and Wale managed to put their differences aside and collaborate on Wale’s new song, “Focused.”
Wale first told Complex about the record months ago—"[Cudi] recorded it from his iPhone," he explained, "Ross’ producer mixed it down, and it sounds like a real song." Just last week we were able to debut the CDQ version. With Folarin's sophmore album, Ambition, set to drop November 1 (peep the tracklist here), we got on the phone with Mr. No Days off to talk about the making of Ambition and the importance of patching things up with Mr. Rager.
As told to Insanul Ahmed (@Incilin)
Wale on the making of "Focused"...
“This was one of the first songs recorded for the album. The song stands for something. The album’s called Ambition, and it stands for the younger guys wanting more, working harder, and getting through things.
“A lot of rappers before us let their grudges with each other ruin their [relationships when they were coming up] together. I ain’t got to name drop, but a lot of rappers weren’t cool with each other until they were—not to say past their prime—but their young energy wasn’t there. Some guys, we never ever heard together—for whatever reasons.
Cudi came back from inner demons. I came back from not knowing what was gonna happen with [my career]. We made it, we healthy, we got our fans, and this one’s for you motherfuckers.
“The interesting thing about the record is that it’s rapping going on. Those lyrics can go on any beat and it be like, ‘Oh shit! Did you hear what he said?’ It’s real-life rapping, like tricky cadences and rapping fast then slowing down the melody and all that. You’d think a record with me and Cudi would be like something super melodic, but I’m rapping on there.
“A lot of us rappers ain’t the most confident rapping on our singles. A lot of niggas dumb it down, but I thought it was important to do the complete opposite on the record that everybody was gonna praise for how dope the hook is. I think the lyrics had to be knockout.
“The last touch to it was Trey from UCB. He put some vocals on it. Trey’s on the album a lot actually. [My relationship with] Trey is almost like Jordan and Pippen. He finds melodies in the beat to bring it to life. When he put those on there, I knew it was perfect.”
“‘Focused’ has that ‘we did it’ feel. Me and Cudi did it; we here now. Y’all remember us from when we was young. Y’all remember our first public bullshit we went though. We still here and we shining, so celebrate with us. Y’all fans been fucking with us, coming to all our shows, sleeping in lines, buying our t-shirts.
“It’s like the exclamation point after the word ambition. It’s the exclamation point to this feeling or this stage in my career. Cudi came back from inner demons. I came back from not knowing what was gonna happen with [my career]. We made it, we healthy, we got our fans, and this one’s for you motherfuckers."
Wale on re-connecting with Kid Cudi...
“With an album like Ambitionand the way I wrote it, it was only right to take something that was so public and so personal and put it on here. It took a lot for it to go down. When you’re that close to somebody and your friendship takes a turn, it’s really hard to repair.
It took a lot for it to go down. When you’re that close to somebody and your friendship takes a turn, it’s really hard to repair.
“It’s not like a dude that didn’t know me. If it’s a guy that doesn’t know you and y’all have a little spat, it’s easier to get over it and get to know each other. But when you know somebody, and y’all get into it, you got to live with the fact that this person knows you and it ain’t what it was. It’s a blessing to be mature enough to get over it and be cool again and make such an incredible record that the fans want to hear.
“You got to understand where [me and Cudi’s] relationship is: That’s the homie right there. He know that it ain’t nothing for me. Like I just did a song with Chip Tha Ripper with no questions asked—no money or calling managers. It was just understood. I could be doing no features. I could be working on my stuff, but he know he always got one with me. There’s a couple of niggas that always got one with me, no matter where they are in their career.
“[Me and Cudi] got a chance to kick it on the set of How To Make It In America.. I was at one of the filmings to see how it goes down. It was a great opportunity to go out there because I got a couple of scripts that I’m going through for after the album. We’ll see how that goes. I’m gonna do a little bit [of acting], but music is always gonna be the number one."
Wale on his upcoming album, Ambition...
“The defining moment of my career will be Ambition.. [The album] is complete and I have every intention of making this a classic album. I was telling Drake the other day, a lot of the people that came before us worked a lot harder and things didn’t come as easy to them.
“The 20 rappers or so that they all picked—there’s never really been a list, but you kind of know who it is—it's the guys that they’ve been talking about for the past couple of years. It’s like we all the way through the door. We really on now. I’m just glad that we could actually get this record done.
[Me and Drake] keep a great rapport. He’s Young Money and I’m Maybach. We like next-door neighbors. We got a couple of records coming out.
“[Me and Drake] keep a great rapport. He’s Young Money and I’m Maybach. We like next-door neighbors. Me and him got a couple of records coming out, we might do the 'Bait' remix if time permits. We got a joint called ‘Destiny’ that might be on Self Made Vol. 2.
“‘Ambition’ is a record that’s on the album that’s very important because it’s the title track. The most famous rapper on the album is obviously Rick Ross, so I wanted him to bring a lot of attention to ‘Ambition’ because it’s what the album is about. I also wanted my fans to hear another side of Rick Ross. He touches on some things that he never really spoke on before on that verse.
“[I worked with the] legendary DJ Toomp on the album. I’m 100% sure Toomp is someone I will be working with a lot in the future. One of the album’s most [important] records is ‘Legendary,’ which Toomp produced. All I got to say is, if I only got three minutes and 30 seconds, ‘Legendary’ is what I would want them to listen to.”