Given this week’s explosive in-fighting between Maybach Music Group comrades Meek Mill and Wale, I’ll note that while Wale featured Meek on The Gifted last year, Wale so happens to be absent from Meek’s last two releases as well as bawse Rick Ross’ Mastermind. #UNOTMMG
Wale just ain't gone tweet a thing about my album.... He's been hating on me long time now ...don't even text me cornball! #UNOTMMG— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) July 8, 2014
Meek’s animosity couldn’t have come at a more convenient time, perhaps, given Wale’s expressed desire to reprise his mixtape flow: the homophone-twisters and playful entendres that distinguished his early work with Mark Ronson and Nick Catchdubs, who produced Wale’s breakout tape, The Mixtape About Nothing.
This was all before Wale’s Attention Deficit debut flopped, selling 28,000 copies in its first week and souring his relationship with Interscope. By the end of 2009, Wale was hardly a star.
Such were the circumstances by which Wale’s signing to MMG made a sort of sense—more sense than his hometown fanbase then conceded, in 2010. When the knock against Wale was that he couldn’t make a concise, undeniable hit, Gucci Mane kept Wale afloat with “Pretty Girls,” and then Waka Flocka Flame pretty much saved the homie's career with “No Hands," Wale's godsend hit feature of 2010. All the while, Rick Ross was running the rap charts with three career-defining singles from his fourth album, Teflon Don.
Ross signed Wale to MMG in February 2011, and thus a star was reborn.
From a debut album that faltered due to quirky production and concept overload, to a follow-up that balanced the best rapping of his career with a few top-notch R&B hooks—the Wale of Ambition and the Self Made trilogy was a team player, accordingly tempered, constrained to a made men aesthetic and big-beat soundscape that suited him profitably, if not perfectly.
As of late, however, MMG’s direction runs rather afar of Wale’s artistic priorities. Wale’s the roster’s sole prospering poet, as Stalley flounders, and latter-day recruits Fat Trel and Tracy T tug the balance yet further in favor of Meek and Ross’ brash capo raps, in contrast with Wale’s Moleskine poet cursive. Ambition may have honored the MMG brand but The Gifted is, at this point, a radical departure from the sound and substance of Self-Made. Yesterday, after dropping a new track amidst his indirect back-and-forth with Meek, Wale retweeted a couple fans who compared “The Followers” to the rapper’s pre-MMG material.
Song called "the followers" just basically talkin about where I been at mentally . Tryna bring u closer to #nothing album— Wale Folarin (@Wale) July 8, 2014
So perhaps Wale’s abrupt alienation from MMG is fated and favored. Emancipations have worked out well enough for (reformed Wale hater) Kid Cudi, who left Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music in 2013 on publicly amenable terms. A year later, Cudi dropped Satellite Flight, starting anew, independently. Like Cudi, Wale’s becoming a less rap collabo-driven artist than is typical among hip-hop’s top-tier in 2014. Insomuch as he shares both a lane and a region with Dreamville, Wale might pair more formidably with his younger buddy J. Cole. They tour together, they get along. Which, at this point, is more than can be said for Wale and his contractual family.
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