Wale, "Attention Deficit"
Washington, D.C., rapper Wale owns the distinction of being the most well-rounded of hip-hop's latest class: He packed quirky smarts into last year's "Seinfeld"-themed "The Mixtape About Nothing" before splashing onto radio with the hook-laden Lady Gaga collaboration "Chillin'." He continues to show his range on "Attention Deficit," his long-delayed yet sonically dazzling proper debut. Working with an all-star list of producers, Wale sounds as comfortable on indie fare like the Dave Sitek-produced "TV in the Radio" as on sizzling stereo-bangers like Cool & Dre's "World Tour." His lyrical themes also cover a lot of ground, from the lothario come-ons of "Pretty Girls" to the cautious tale of superficiality told on "90210." Luckily, Wale never spreads himself too thin on "Attention Deficit" and maintains the urgency of his mixtapes to ensure that the set contains little filler. With an immediate likability and a penchant for innovative pop music, Wale could soon reach Kanye West-esque heights of artistic and commercial viability.-Jason Lipshutz