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Wale – ‘The Gifted’ Album Review

“We ain’t supposed to never have nothing/We ain’t supposed to never have shit,” Wale raps on his third LP. The MMG rapper speaks about his come up as if he’s still living that experience. You really can’t fault Wale for that. After his Interscope debut Attention Deficit didn’t impact as expected, the DC rapper became determined to be a legitimate rap star. Two years later, his sophomore effort Ambition found him in a new space that switched his whole style up thanks to Rick Ross’ mentorship. As he continued to progress under Maybach Music Group, Wale got noticeably better and grew into a commercial force in hip-hop. On The Gifted, he aims to take another leap in his career with a demonstration of the genre he calls “New Black Soul.”

Throughout the album, Wale embraces live instrumentation by pulling sounds that explore his eclectic tastes.“LoveHate Thing” combines funky guitars and handclaps, indicative of contemplative soul. Elsewhere, he returns to his D.C. roots, where brass horns and chimes are classic Go-Go. Despite the various influences, the musical experience doesn’t sound forced, and there’s room for inspirational tunes like “Heaven’s Afternoon” and “88.” The latter is based off Michael Jordan’s illustrious career and sneaker culture. The Gifted also serves as a platform for some of Wale’s most introspective tracks to date. He takes jabs at the media’s sensationalism in “Gullible,” and tackles the subject of Jesus pieces in “Golden Salvation.” While hip-hop has extensively touched on the subject, here, he challenges those who materialize the meaning of Jesus through a unique perspective.

The Gifted takes advantage of Wale’s rap Rolodex with all-star appearances from Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Cee Lo Green. Jerry Seinfeld, who appears on the outro of “Black Heroes,” teases that The Album Of Nothing is actually happening, which excites fans that grew to love Folarin during his mixtape days. He’s cited Seinfeld as an inspiration on numerous occasions, so to see the connection come to fruition feels like a victory lap for Wale, who’s always seemed to have a chip on his shoulder. Matching his lyrical abilities with polished production and radio-ready hooks, The Gifted sees Wale inching towards hip-hop’s upper echelon, while still exhibiting the hunger of a young MC on the rise. “Born to lose, built to win,” he claims on “Heaven’s Afternoon.” Started from that bottom, but now he’s got it.—Eric Diep (@e_diep)

  • Janet

    nice album. i just got it. still amazed at how j cole’s born sinner got a L rating on xxl. smh

  • Rigby

    This album is extremely average to me. It deserves a L. The fact that XXL thinks The Gifted is better than Born Sinner greatly disturbs me.

    • uptop_hollywood

      The Gifted is clearly better than Born Sinner. Wale got more versatile songs on his albums. without a doubt more energy on Wale album,He got sumthing for everybody, and the metaphors are crazy. Yall on J.Cole nutz to hard. both albums are good but wale got more hits

  • billy

    LOL at this getting XL and Born Sinner getting L. XXL needs some new blood

    • jamalj24

      Wow. Did you even listen to Wale’s album. He really came tough on this. Play it at least two or three times to get the meaning behind each track. Really need to hop off Cole.

  • mark

    I was pleasantly surprised with this album, born sinner just didnt have any wow to it, after ever song I was like ” that was alright” this album had some dope tracks.

    • Guest

      but your name is mark right?

    • Franco

      but your name is Mark right?

  • Trash

    Trash hop

  • jlane

    it’s official, cus J Cole dissed XXL they gave him a low rating. Good album but blows my mind that born sinner was rated lower than this

    • DatDudeBruhBruh

      Both trash, just J Coal is more boring. Nap King Coal!

  • infamous_mh

    These has got to be a joke I respect and appreciate Wale but better than born sinners is a travesty the gifted failed to maintain my interest clappers is 5:16 of crap more features than a dj khaled album and yet lacks cohesiveness. Wale defining himself as a lyricist he should’ve went a different direction with this album less features more attention to detail and beat selection I like ambition alot better personally

  • Ronald Jack

    Damn I get that people are upset about Cole’s rating but leave that shit on Cole’s page. Let Wale have his time. Evaluate his work based on him. Stop bringing Born Sinner’s XXL rating and negative energy on here.

    • three

      ppl are just mad because Wale’s xl says Gifted better than Born Sinner. when both deserve xl’s. BS maybe even xxl.

      • DatDudeBruhBruh

        BS was trash… gtfoh, nigga.

        • Ntshepe

          Nigga please. BS’s a classic!!! fall back yo!!!

          • The Greatest

            “BS a classic” These kids crazy, yo… Shit MIGHT have been an XL, TOPS… Better than his disappointing-ass debut, and it wasn’t bad, but these Cole stans claiming it’s a classic are crazy. Reasonable Doubt a classic. Illmatic a classic. Chronic a classic. MBDTF a classic. Hell, Lupe’s first Food and Liquor is MUCH more of a classic than BS… Y’all CRAZY to think BS is a “classic”.. Good concepts and a dope songs, but NOT a classic..

    • https://twitter.com/real_lyricists Mr. 116

      Gifted is dope, and so is J. Cole’s album. But, how can Lil B’s album get an XL when J. Cole’s album got an L. That doesn’t make sense. Something is definitely wrong with that.

  • Hogzzzzzzzzzz

    You give Cole a L but you give this clown an XXL?

  • Santana

    XXL not even keeping it 1000. Album is a M, just like his last album was. His debut would probably be a L. He’s a disposable artist. Lame flow, ok lyricism, corny voice, Emo records, same shit the world has heard for the last 4 years.

    • uno

      simply blasphemous…

    • Lefty 2 Gunz

      you sound stupid he is one of the most lyrical rappers out. if anybody comes close to kendrick .. its wale

  • Matthew

    Yáll need to chill, and why you’re at it, hop off Cole. I’m a fan just like the next person but no need to try and tear Wale down just because. At the end of the day, it’s all subjective. No one is right and no one is wrong, it’s just an opinion. Both Born Sinner and the Gifted were tough.

  • http://www.asishiphop.com/ Steve Jones

    i still think Wale wasted the beat for 88 although this was the best album of this ‘great summer’ of albums by a decent margin

  • Lebron

    I predicted XXL would give this an XL before I even heard the album. Smh. XXL needs a totally new rating system.

  • Femdimes

    Niggas on here are really on Cole’s dick wow, personally I think both albums are average.

    • The Greatest

      Honestly yo, thank you… I like COle, I think Warm Up and Friday Night Lights are dope mixtapes and he’s one of the more talented rappers in the game, but his albums are underwhelming as FUCK, and you got his fans calling them “classics”… Makes me dislike Cole more and more b.

  • Dom

    Solid Album, no direct complaints from me. Ready to see more from hip-hop this summer. At the end of the day, it’s bigger than a rating.

  • Robert Rose

    Who gives a shit about the rating? Or what Born Sinner got? Listen to the albums and develop your own damn opinions. Stop complaining.

  • BillyBobJohn

    Another typical review XXL always give MMG releases XL.

  • Jay Deluca

    Been bangin this since it leaked its goood music..but i still like the j.cole better so far 4 this month….but my fav.song 4 the albm is vanity…..on repeat during basketball and strenghth wrkouts…#greatness starts @ 4:45am..

  • Young Prafit

    I honestly cant rock with this album I’m Just not feeling it

  • Twist

    J.Coles album been out since the 18th wale just sold more than him last week thats it

  • Lebron

    Wale is the most average rapper alive.

  • hoopdr3amz

    Album is everything i want in a good album 4 my ears…theres tracks 4 every type of mood…..wrkout 2 get blown 2 ride 2 headout 2 the club with the home girls and just let the whole dam thing play….fav.jam was #2 im on the WESTCOAST “CALI” nigggga bangin this since it leaked and coped as well deff wrth my $…thanks “WALE” 4 a dope ass project this was needed in a time like this in my life…..THe gifted

  • Lefty 2 Gunz

    should have got a xxl

  • Lefty 2 Gunz

    Album of the year should have gotten a XXL …. TO ME .. Wale Lyrically a Beast the the swag of Jay his own delivery but the content of a Lupe or Mos Def. His Ear for Music Ridiculous. He Had Live Instrumentation which really showcased his go-go Upbringing and separated him as an “artist” amongst “rappers”. If you listen to this Album IN ORDER. you can hear how each song intertwines with one another he is really telling a story. Man His Verses were bananas this nigga can rap his ass off. the song with Meek mill Was Crazy. Meek was doing all that yelling he usually does he was just Spitting Bars..and they went Back and fourth on some tag team shit MAN O MAN it was Like the hardy boys on the track and wale came and finish them off with the swaton bomb. I hear a Big MInt condition Influence … and On Love hate thing the singer fits the song so well he sounds Like Rapheal saadiq . 88′ felt like “THE MC” part 2 but more triumphant. Jesus piece was crucial and like Kanyes diamond from sierra leone. Gullible got deep in wales mind and expose the average american citizen and social media user. Yo gotti came Through and Gave Wale a FIRE ASS VERSE.. that was from left field and fit the song so well even tho they Verses was too different subject matter. Wale was talking about what he saw his homies doing and gotti was talking about what he was doing but together they painted a beautiful picture. THEN TO TOP IT OFF.. WHO BETTER TO HAVE SING THE CHORUS THAN LYFE? AWWW SHIT NIGGA..and so left field cuz he been out the spotlight the but the nigga knows the song all too well and song chorus with so much soul although i would like to hear lyfe get a lil more shine he should let him sing during the verses and shit to give it more feeling . ON simple man this nigga wale went crazy and gave niggas a occasional tounge twist deliver like Jay used to do on reasonable double . the nigga wale flow was so nasty . THE BAD REMIX was nice as well i think wale knew that Rihanna put more feeling into the chorus than tiara thomas i dont think he did that for Popularity i really believe it was to better the song and i respect that .. all in all this album is sonically one of the best albums ive heard in a long time Down to the Symbolism in the artwork .. this one deep as nigga i wish people would learn to appreciate him. get yo money nigga

  • Lefty 2 Gunz

    Album of the year should have gotten a XXL …. TO ME .. Wale Lyrically a Beast the the swag of Jay his own delivery but the content of a Lupe or Mos Def. His Ear for Music Ridiculous. He Had Live Instrumentation which really showcased his go-go Upbringing and separated him as an “artist” amongst “rappers”. If you listen to this Album IN ORDER. you can hear how each song intertwines with one another he is really telling a story. Man His Verses were bananas this nigga can rap his ass off. the song with Meek mill Was Crazy. Meek was doing all that yelling he usually does he was just Spitting Bars..and they went Back and fourth on some tag team shit MAN O MAN it was Like the hardy boys on the track and wale came and finish them off with the swaton bomb. I hear a Big MInt condition Influence … and On Love hate thing the singer fits the song so well he sounds Like Rapheal saadiq . 88′ felt like “THE MC” part 2 but more triumphant. Jesus piece was crucial and like Kanyes diamond from sierra leone. Gullible got deep in wales mind and expose the average american citizen and social media user. Yo gotti came Through and Gave Wale a FIRE ASS VERSE.. that was from left field and fit the song so well even tho they Verses was too different subject matter. Wale was talking about what he saw his homies doing and gotti was talking about what he was doing but together they painted a beautiful picture. THEN TO TOP IT OFF.. WHO BETTER TO HAVE SING THE CHORUS THAN LYFE? AWWW SHIT NIGGA..and so left field cuz he been out the spotlight the but the nigga knows the song all too well and song chorus with so much soul although i would like to hear lyfe get a lil more shine he should let him sing during the verses and shit to give it more feeling . ON simple man this nigga wale went crazy and gave niggas a occasional tounge twist deliver like Jay used to do on reasonable double . the nigga wale flow was so nasty . THE BAD REMIX was nice as well i think wale knew that Rihanna put more feeling into the chorus than tiara thomas i dont think he did that for Popularity i really believe it was to better the song and i respect that .. all in all this album is sonically one of the best albums ive heard in a long time Down to the Symbolism in the artwork .. this one deep as nigga i wish people would learn to appreciate him. get yo money nigga