Maybach Music Group rhymer, Wale, has finished recording the follow-up to his breakout 2011 effort “Ambition,” titled,”The Gifted.” While Wale’s third studio album, due June 25, is currently in the mastering process, MMG’s A&R Dallas Martin hosted a brief listening session on Friday (May 17) at Atlantic Records/Warner Bros. New York City offices.
Fans of “Ambition” will delight in knowing that like on his sophomore album, the Washington, D.C. native does not stray from his hometown’s Go-Go sound.
Cowbells clack prominently on “Sunshine” — a cut shimmering with positive vibes. It’s one of several on the album that features Mint Condition’s Stokley Williams cooing over it.
Another is the set’s second single, “Love Hate Thing.” The Tone P produced song is sonically reminiscent of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” It was previously titled “Indian Giver.” On it, Wale raps about receiving love at home and having it taken away by naysayers that make him “want to get the piece to get the peace.”
As on former projects, Wale boasts clever wordplay and lyricism on “The Gifted.” There are several thoughtful verses that implore unpacking during second and thirds listens. What may be a bit of a bigger surprise is the amount of big name, well-curated guests on the upcoming album.
A remix of the album’s lead single “Bad,” a sorrowful opus about a romantically damaged woman was teased and stopped halfway through. It appropriately features Rihanna, who sings the hook and chimes in throughout Wale’s new verses. “Bad girls always end up ‘Unapologetic,’” Wale spits, referencing the star’s latest album, which holds the remorseless title. Atlantic intends to drop the revamped “Bad” in a few weeks.
“Clappers,” a thumper begging to be played at strip clubs all over, features two rappers familiar with jams of the sort: Nicky Minaj and Juicy J. “Let a trippy ni–a see what you’re working with,” Juicy J requests during a musical breakdown that takes him into friendly “Bandz a Make Her Dance” booty-popping territory. Minaj swerves in for barely half a verse, playing the role of a pimp with a horde of women fit to please. Recalling E.U.’s classic go-go single “Da Butt,” Wale yelps: “Shorty got a big ole butt.”
Wiz Khalifa and 2 Chainz join him on the braggadocios “Rotation.” “If you seen my crib,” Wiz raps, “you would’ve thought I was Malibu Ken.” Wale shouts out his Roc Nation manager and mentor Jay-Z via legal name (“Made millions with Shawn Corey”) on “Rotation.”
MMG label mate Meek Mill trades bars with Wale on “Heaven in the Afternoon,” a song that gets especially interesting at the end because of its many musical transitions. Rick Ross confirmed with Billboard that he will also appear on “The Gifted.”
It wouldn’t be a Wale album without a dash of spoken word. It comes on the set’s outro, where he explains that his only goal is to inspire. It’ll be another five weeks before listeners can soak in “The Gifted” — but as Wale nears the finish, it appears he’s set to score big.