On Monday (June 3), Wale hosted an intimate listening session at the movie theater level of Bryant Park Hotel, located in Midtown Manhattan. Three weeks away from The Gifted‘s June 25 release date, the D.C. native invited journalists and hip-hop’s influential figures to preview the album. D’USSE was served in red MMG-labeled cups, and comfort food ranging from chicken fingers to turkey burger sliders added to the event’s casual ambiance.
Wale was ecstatic to show off his latest body of work, which he referred to as his version of Jay-Z’s Blueprint. Sway, Angie Martinez, DJ Khaled and Giants’ wide receiver Victor Cruz were just a few of those who came to show their support, in addition to his MMG cohorts Rick Ross, Meek Mill, Stalley and Rockie Fresh.
Before opening up to The Gifted’s intro, Rozay described Wale’s tireless work ethic to the audience, explaining “He went into the bat cave. Didn’t speak to my homie for a few months.” Then, Wale took center stage and thoroughly talked about his direction of the genre he deems “new black soul” for The Gifted. Focusing on live instrumentation and unique sounds, the MMG rapper seemed set to prove his evolution as an artist. “I’m challenging the listener to get into it,” he says.
Wale didn’t play The Gifted in it’s entirety, though we certainly heard enough to report back to you on what to expect. Here’s a look at 10 of the 16 songs on Wale’s third studio LP.—Eric Diep (@E_Diep), with additional reporting by Emmanuel C.M., (@ECM_LP)