I know Ambition has been out for 13 days already, but I really had to let that bitch breathe. This was a big album for Wale and I wanted to judge it the best I could. You know I had to bump it in the whip to get the real feel of the record. I went back to our old style with the grades for this review so comment if you like or dislike that. Overall I think Wale put out a quality project. Was it what we all were expecting? Hit the jump and find out.
Uptown Soldier Album Review: Wale – Ambition
Production: B (Wale definitely upped his production on this album, but lacking big smash hit)
Lyrics: B+ (Wale’s lyrics may be the key component of this album)
Completeness: B- (Felt like there was some music from Wale we didn’t get. “Tatts On My Arm” should’ve made the album to show he can do big things with Lex Luger type sounding music still. Also thought there was a song missing that could have sounded like “4AM”.)
Extras (Collabs, Artwork, etc.): A- (Album artwork is pretty plain, features are dope but only 2 rap features in terms of songs, promotion for the album was incredible, R&B’s finest enlisted for the album, Cudder on the album, Bonus tracks we’ve heard for months, Vlogs/Videos have been the best on the net)
Overall: B (Wale did a heck of a job with this album, just needed some big haymaker punches to really leave a more lasting impact)
Being that Wale’s debut album Attention Deficit failed in terms of commercial success with only 29,000 copies sold in its first week, there were some big expectations and standards to fill with Ambition. Honestly I think that the expectations for this album were bigger for Wale than any other artist and their album this year. Yeah I know Weezy’s Tha Carter IV was huge and Watch The Throne, Cole World blah blah blah. But seriously, Wale was a nothing artist after his debut album. Look where Cole and Big Sean are now and look where Wale was in November of 2010 when Attention Deficit dropped, or even months after in 2010. The sad answer is that Wale was not being talked about, getting over-looked, and even a solid project in More About Nothing couldn’t really up his hype. I will say that was the beginning of the change in Wale, but people weren’t checking for him. Then the move of his career came and Rick Ross signed him to MMG in February of this year.
Since then, Wale has been a new artist. The title of this album says it all. He literally has taken #NODAYSOFF touring the country with Rozay, on his own tours, at the BET Awards, MTV Awards, and more. He’s got really dope videos, blogs, and Twitter presence. He’s been putting out music on a consistent basis the entire year. The music leading up to Self Made, Vol. 1 was showing Wale had some great potential. Then when Self Made dropped everyone saw this whole new side to Wale. It really started with “No Hands”, but the MMG compilation album put Wale on these huge club banger/Lex Luger sounding beats when all along he’s been about staying true to Hip-Hop. Some fans questioned this, but the MMG sound became the music of the summer and they ran the concert ring and the radios throughout the country.
This was huge for Wale as he used it as a tool to continually promote his sophomore album. From wayyyyy earlier on you got the idea it was going to be called Ambition when Wale just began shouting it out randomly in tracks. The summer was crazy for MMG and Wale continued his grind putting out some crazy freestyles and what was thought to be his first single, “Bad Girls Club” featuring J. Cole. The track was very highly anticipated on the blogs/internet and seemingly missed the mark. Many viewed the track to not quite live up to expectations and I suspect that’s why it didn’t end up making the album. Personally I thought the track was dope and I do think it created some positive buzz for Wale. Then a month later he released his latest mixtape The Eleven One Eleven Theory. Wale decided to follow the popular formula used by Wiz Khalifa and drop a pre-album mixtape to help promote and build buzz. At the time this looked like a great move for Wale. The mixtape was a smash hit on the internet and everyone agreed that the project has a lot of quality music. So much so that the singles were tearing up the radio and one even made the album, “Chain Music“. I was personally very high on this project and believed that it put Wale up a level in terms of a quality artist. He showed range, his lyrics were really good, and the production was off the chain. “Bait” was probably the biggest hit off the project and probably should have been on the album (it’s a bonus track).
This put Wale in a nice position with Ambition because it allowed fans to see progression and thus raised their expectations for his sophomore album. After the mixtape dropped Wale did an unbelievable job promoting Ambition in the months leading up to its release. He immediately began his Ambition promo tour and sold out shows across the country. He continuously put out random, dope freestyles and weekly blogs of performance and behind the scenes footage. His music videos were on the top charts and he released various new ones. He had numerous tracks tearing up the radios nationwide and appeared as a guest feature on some big records. Wale was in straight promo mode, in the streets, with the people, showing the world his ambition. This was a great strategy and because of his grind Wale sold 163k copies in Ambition’s first week out. This tells me that for Wale’s first album the strategy and promotion was so fucking bad that Wale should pray to the heavens and thank them every day for Rick Ross.
MMG put Wale on the real map and made him a respectable artist. Ambition shows that Wale is a legit artist and most likely here to stay. Now….that being said…I’m sort of feeling the album. Mr. Folarin really came with a lot of passion and emotion putting together a complete project. The theme is obvious and really relatable to a lot of people out there. But….I will say that I feel like Wale could have made this album slightly better. The expectations were sky high for this album and to me it seems like Wale missed the mark. The project is good, but it’s not great. I find myself preferring Wale tracks that aren’t on the album over the album cuts. Maybe its me, but there was a slight disappointment when I first listened to this album.
First, let me say there are some dope tracks on there that are the “Wale” I was looking for on this album. Those tracks are “Miami Nights” (my personal favorite track on the album), “Ambition” feat. Meek Mill & Rick Ross, “Double M Genius”, “Focused” feat. Kid Cudi, and “Slight Work” feat. Big Sean (even though Wale saying “Work, work, work, work, work, work” bothers the hell out of me). Now with the rest of the album I think Wale made some questionable choices for songs but did show his range and versatility. He decided to have not 3 but 4 R&B hook tracks if you include “That Way” as the bonus. The SOLE reason Wale did this was for commercial success. Its too obvious not to see. After Self Made dropped, “That Way” lit up the charts and when I say lit up, I mean torched. That song literally stayed on the Top whatever charts for weeks on weeks on weeks. The video was a big hit a few months ago and it was clearly one of Wale’s most popular tracks. It had to be on the album.
And because of this success from this Jeremiah-assisted R&B hook, Wale decided to make this type of music a major part of his album. There was very little if any of this on Eleven One Eleven Theory and I feel like Wale may have overdid it on Ambiton. “Lotus Flower Bomb” is a miss in my opinion but its doing okay commercially. “White Linen (Coolin)” is my favorite out of the bunch and I still don’t understand how Wale chose a Miguel feature for his single over a Ne-Yo feature. “Sabotage” does sounds really dope on some good speakers and adds to this R&B/Hip-Hop Wale is known and loved for.
This brings me to my next point of how Wale attempted to bring back his original style and thus showed good of progression with his music. He showed earlier in the year how he could do the Lex Luger style and now in November shows he still has his own style. My thoughts were that “Tatts On My Arm” should have maybe replaced one of the R&B featured tracks and that “Legendary” could have been cut. Sure Wale’s lyrics are good but no one wants to listen to an awful beat. I also wished “No Days Off” brought the same passion as “DC Or Nothing”. Both of those tracks have these themes/message that represents Wale. I think “No Days Off” could have lived up to that motto better. The beat is just not lively and doesn’t evoke that emotion I was looking for.
The title track on the album is my second favorite track and it has a lot to do with Meek Mill and Rick Ross spitting dope verses before Wale even raps a bar. The beat is real smooth and all three artists bring it on their verses. Wale could have used some more attention on the track but I still really enjoy it as he did kill the hook. “Miami Nights” is what I was looking for in Wale. He did a great job of capturing the Miami nights lifestyle and atmosphere. This song has a lot of single and club potential yet the lyrics are right with the theme. I was thinking he’d throw another track like “Ocean Drive” on the album because of the following he has with Reggae-lovers. “Illest Bitch” is pretty dope. This is Wale’s poetic side which I can appreciate. I think some females will enjoy this but maybe the Ambitious Girls theme would have been better to stick with. It seems like more of a mixtape song to me.
I think Wale hit the mark on “Focused” and “Slight Work”. Both tracks have great features and crazy beats. The intro to the album comes in strong but takes a slight dive towards the end of it. What was one of the best things he did with this album and I believe its the reason its doing so well, is the concept driving Wale. This concept of him showing the world his Ambition really adds a personal aspect to this album. He really bodies this theme in his lyrics and music. I just want to lastly say I feel like Wale missed on not putting a huge RAP banger on the album. I mentioned “Tats On My Arm” should have made the album, but where is the Wale from “Black & Gold”, “Eye Of The Tiger”, on “Cook Up”, and on his freestyles like “Jump Freestyle” and more? I know pop music is selling right now, but Wale is a rapper. Show the world what you’re good at.
Overall I think Wale showed so much passion leading up to the release of Ambition and the album does a solid job of keeping that flow. There are some questions I would have asked Wale about song selection but I’m am in no way saying this album is bad. It is a quality album. Although…I expected Wale to come out and “Wow” me. He said he was going to, so I had to expect it. Maybe its just me, I’m not sure, but the messages and overall emotion that most of this album draws from me isn’t the insane stuff I was originally expecting. I say that because we were expecting Grammy-type stuff (because Wale said so) even though realistically that’s not going to happen. This album does not “Wow” me in any way. It shows me Wale has grown as an artist and can put out a project that his big commercial success potential, but I feel like its missing the Wale I’ve grown to love in this past year. The music is there but Wale still has room to grow. I was really looking for the Wale I heard on “4AM”. How the fuck did that song make Black Cobain’s mixtape? Wale murdered that shit!!!
Wale did pretty solid commercially and will continue to grow and progress. MMG will continue to get bigger and better so don’t count Wale out what so ever. Where Wale goes from here? Not too sure, but I’d love to see him continue to work with the younger artists like J. Cole, Drake, Big Sean, Cudder, and others not on MMG. Stay posted on Wale via Uptown Soldier because we stay supporting DC’s finest.
If you disagree with anything I’ve said please feel free to comment or email me at JoeMoney@UptownSoldier.com and I will be happy to discuss with you.