The Gifted (Atlantic/Maybach)
Who is Wale? After a handful of mixtapes (including the excellent Seinfeld-themed The Mixtape About Nothing) and two so-so albums, The Gifted sees the Washington, DC, rapper suffering from an identity crisis. On his third album, he tries to appeal to everyone with us-against-the-world rallies (Heaven’s Afternoon), strip club anthems (Clappers) and slow jams (Bad), with diminishing returns.
The main problem? Wale’s neither a larger-than-life personality like Maybach Music head honcho Rick Ross nor a gritty street rapper like labelmate Gunplay. Even his beefs are boring (earlier this year he exchanged words with a Raptors announcer during a Toronto-Washington game). He’s a competent emcee, especially when speaking about the struggles of young African Americans, but he’s in need of a good producer to rein him in.
A guest verse by 2 Chainz and a brief cameo by none other than Mr. Puffy Shirt himself, Jerry Seinfeld, aren’t enough to keep anybody except Wale diehards from yada yada-ing through this one.
Top track: Rotation feat. Wiz Khalifa and 2 ChainzMax Mertens