The road to Shine has been a long journey. Wale announced the title of his fifth studio album at the pre-show for former President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address in January of 2016. Since then, fans have been waiting patiently for the release of the LP.

For his previous album, The Album About Nothing, the MMG rapper returned to his Seinfeld-themed mixtape series for inspiration. The album, which featured Jerry Seinfeld, was also a bit dark and touched on Wale's stint with depression. But for Shine, it appeared that the 32-year-old Washington, D.C. native was happy again.

"I put myself through a lot of doom and gloom, and I'm just like, 'Wale, man, just be happier, bro,' he said. "This one just feels different. It's just about having your vibe and your glow. This is really just about shining."

The first single off the album was "My PYT," which he debuted at 2016 SXSW. The track was officially released in May of that year with the video out two months later. The fun, dance record, which peaked at No. 56 on the Billboard Hot 100, made a listener feel like they're on an island in the Bahamas. This first taste of Shine was a exciting one.

Life seemed great for Wale during this time. He just welcomed his newborn daughter Zyla to the world on July 22 (she's probably one of the most adorable babies in hip-hop). He wrote a heartfelt message to his fans about the significance of Shine and its connection to his daughter.

He wrote, “I named my album SHiNE when I knew my babygirl was on the way … I want to be a better man than I ever been. I’m so flawed I’m so imperfect and the world knows it… I just want to honestly be the best version of myself I can be.. My focus is renewed I’m infinitely in love with my princess and I truly appreciate all the love you have shown her and how understanding many people who knew were .imma keep workin on me and pray to God I can design a young princess who flourishes to an absolute queen .. I got u baby … U go girl .. You are my everything and I’ll see to it we SHiNE my precious Zyla.”

To keep fans satisfied until Shine came out, Wale dropped the 2016 mixtape, Summer on Sunset, at 17-track project with guest features including Ty Dolla $, Cam’ron, Raheem DeVaughn, Eric Bellinger, Tha Dogg Pound, Victoria Monét, Jazz Cartier, WWE’s Jim Ross and Phil Ade. During MMG Weekend 2016 last July, Wale previewed “Scarface Rozay Gotti,” off Shine. But after the fun weekend, a release date for Shine began to become more murky. Months would pass before Wale released another single off the LP. Instead he dropped a collection of three new freestyles and a lost verse, which he dubbed Today…I Got Time!

He also became the recipient of a lyrical intervention by his longtime friend J. Cole on his track “False Prophets,” which Wale responded to with his own track, “Groundhog Day.” The competitive back and forth actually became a blessing in disguise because fans appeared to like Wale even more for his honesty and quick response. Momentum was back on the rapper's side.

Wale stayed consistent by linking up with fellow DMV native Phil Ade for the feel-good banger “Smile,” taking aim at conservative political instigator Tomi Lahren. The MC followed that up with his Lil Wayne-assisted single "Running Back," which the two performed live on ESPN’s First Take. The record peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 100becoming his second charting single. Then he linked with G-Eazy for their new song “Fashion Week" and released  “Fish n Grits” featuring Travis Scott.

Earlier this month, Wale released the cover, tracklist and release date for his forthcoming LP. The 14-track LP featured big names such as Major Lazer, WizKid, Dua Lipa, J Balvin, Davido, Olamide, Chris Brown and among others. The album was finally done.

Last night (April 27), Wale held a private listening at Genius' headquarters in Brooklyn and revealed that the LP is dropping this Friday (April 28), one week ahead of the original date, May 5. While being served endless Belaire and XXL took some notes on Wale's Shine. Here’s what you need to know. —Emmanuel C.M.

  • 1

    "Shine Season" Is a Hit

    Wale played a song called "Shine Season" at the listening, which is primed to be a summer hit. The song, which was presumably a bonus cut, will not appear on the LP unfortunately. The track is produced by Sam Sneak and has two different parts. Full of booming bass, Wale is rapping his ass off. He stated at the listening that "Shine Season" will be the outro of the upcoming LP. This is one of the best songs he previewed.

  • 2

    “Fine Girl” Recalls His Nigerian Roots

    The Maybach Music Group artist is one of the first rappers to dip into Afrobeat. Back in 2011, Wale flipped Bunny Mack's "My Sweety My Sugar (Let Me Love You)" for his single "My Sweetie," off his debut album, Attention Deficit. He makes a return to Afrobeat on “Fine Girl,” a great track featuring international stars Davido and Olamide.

  • 3

    Production Credits

    Producers on Shine range from old school to new. Cool & Dre, 808-Ray, Don Cannon, Christian Rich, Mike Dean, Rio and Nez, among others contributed to the project.

  • 4

    "Mathematics" Focuses on Loss

    One song that Wale singled out is "Mathematics." He says the song is about the people he no longer associates with and the people he lost.

  • 5

    Maybach Music Group Is Noticeably Absent

    Even though Rick Ross was in attendance at the listening showing support—along with Remy Ma, Papoose, Amine and Joe Budden—Wale has no features from anyone in the MMG camp on the album. However, he does give Ross a nod on the track "Scarface Rozay Gotti." This isn't new for Wale to put out an album without his MMG comrades. The rapper also didn't have any features from his fellow label mates on The Album About Nothing.

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