Wale released his third solo album The Gifted on 25th June. The album sold 158,000 copies in its first week and probably 300,000 copies to-date. It is the first Hip Hop album that has ever been premiered a stream to by iTunes. For an era where digital downloads is mostly preferred, the sales are justified for the third best seed at Maybach Music Group Label and for an album that got released a week after Kanye West’s much anticipated and yet disappointing Yeezus album.
The album cover art is mostly grey in colour with the calligraphic fonts written in red, white and black. Wale is written in the form of a shoe lace, this implying his walk of life. Whereas his portrait takes a form of a sculpture like that of the statue of liberty placed at the centre of the front cover, surrounded with tattooed art-like drawings of flashing jewels, a semi-nude woman, expensive cars, two hands put together in a manner used to imply religion and bundles of money. These pictures work hand to hand to illustrate his walk of life as a result to having the fortune and the fame, the space Wale was at while he was working on the album.
The album lacks a tangent theme to it, but as Wale describes it in an interview his was to express his growth between the last album and then through his songs. Hereby, there are tracks for sorts of audiences. If one wanted some RnB songs, twerking songs or even message driven songs they could enjoy the various types of records under the same album.
The 16 track album comprises of songs such as golden salvation, the curse of the gifted, gullible, bad, heaven’s afternoon, clappers and vanity just to mention a few. It features music heavy-weights such as Meek Mill, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Cee lo Green, Neyo and Rick Ross, other artists include: Sam Dew and Tiara Thomas.
Noticeably, the album goes against his label’s tradition of producing songs with loud kicks and really energetic choruses with no messages or content in the songs. The album boasts of several producers most notably, Tone P, Stokley Williams and No Credit, other producers include: Tiara Thomas and Sam Dew. My favourite productions have to include: bad featuring Tiara Thomas, tired of dreaming, clappers, Gary Jule’s – the Mad world sampled vanity and bricks. I like the relaxing feel to the songs, whereas for clappers in particular, is the best club song on the album. For any frequent club-goer who likes to watch the ladies dance, clappers would do you justice. Whereas bad has that sound of a shaky bed to it, in the remix version Rihanna raps and gives the song that raunchiness feel to it while the original version Tiara Thomas and Wale let their emotions to it. I got to say they both nailed their versions of the song perfectly.
In this project Wale worked with several songwriters such as Sam Dew, Stokley Williams and Antonio Palmer among others. The hip hop genre is known to be competitive thus for an artist to have songwriters to help him or her work on an album, he or she is belittled. This way an artist is only considered as one of the best if the lyrics are self-generated. Not to take away the success of the album but Wale put in the work and belted the lyrics to perfection.
You can tell Wale has grown lyrically since his last album. Evidently in songs such as Heaven’s afternoon, gullible, vanity and bricks where the lyrics are message scripted. Take for example: gullible, in gullible Wale starts the song asking the listener “would you believe that? If you read that, TV killed the radio.” He speaks about the on-going propaganda shed by the media and is blindly followed or believed by the society. The society will believe whatever is said is the truth thus he questions the society will they believe that.
If J.Cole’s Born Sinner and Kendrick Lamar’s good kid maad city are allegedly the best albums among the new generation artists so does Wale’s The Gifted should be ranked up there as well. Unlike the growing norm in the music industry, the gifted is not a pop album but it is the best album Wale has ever released. On a scale of ten the album scores a seven, and therefore I would recommend hip hop lovers to listen to it.