Nowadays I am proud to say, that the mainstream Rap/ Hip-hop genre is quite diverse. There are a variety of things rapped about outside of guns, money and hoes. As someone who hasn’t exactly grew up in the most run down neighbourhood or has access to either “hoes” or “money”, this suits me fine. Essentially, I would say this was part of what drew me to the music artist Wale. He raps about other stuff, or in his own words he raps about “nothing” – especially whenever Seinfeld is present.
When he is rapping about nothing – minus the MMG influence – he thrives more (in my personal opinion). You only have to listen to recently released “The Album About Nothing” to see what I mean. After endless spins of this body of work, I suddenly realised what my subconscious knew all along. Wale raps best when he is talking about relationships. All my favourite Wale songs are relationship based even though I haven’t been in a long-term relationship ever.
Does this even make any sense? He doesn’t just bring out the romantic – or the softer – side in me, he also addresses certain types of relationships outside of the usual love songs. No one breaks down the complexity of 21st century relationships better than Wale. Something even Pitchfork who is usually quite critical of his music admitted it.
“This is a unique gift—I can’t recall the last time an MC seemed so tapped into a woman’s perspective while still feeling the chill of romantic strain”
He shows us the grey areas in between monogamy and polygamy, the players and the family men, the loyal and promiscuous women. By selecting key tracks from his whole discography, I am going to take you on a journey through the stages of the average man playing the field where he falls for women but never falls in love. Because that’s the best part, he doesn’t write love songs, he writes relationship songs.
The Breakup Song – Mixtape About Nothing
This is where it all starts. Imagine you are at university or college (American terminology) and find this girl you really like. You decide to make an early exit from The Game and settle with this girl because maybe she’s the one. After turning down parties, nights out with the crew and spending long evenings with “bae” she then betrays you. A lot of womanisers had their hearts broken early on, altering their priorities and leaving them with more trust issues than Drake. Hell, I still haven’t forgotten that girl who rejected my Valentines card in Year 4, what a bitch. We may be labelled many things by society but when our hearts are broken, we feel it just as much.
“Thought this was forever love/ Guess that was just seasonal”
Friendship Heights – Festivus
Most of us have visited the Friend Zone at some point in our lives, some only a few times, others too many times (i.e. beta males). It’s a painful place to be where she wants your company but not the D. You have already fallen for her by then, which is fair as the only reason you started talking to her was to get in her panties (let’s be honest). But she has decided you are not worthy of the ultimate prize. It’s like you didn’t even get a silver medal, just a certificate for participating. I like how Chance’s bridge sums up the reality of the friend zone dilemma:
“But whenever you got lonely, needed some advice/ You’d call me your brother, that word is cold as ice”
The Need To Know – The Album About Nothing
What tends to ruin a lot of relationships is the involvement of outsiders. Whether it is friends, Facebook friends, friends of friends or extended family – that you see only at Christmas, they never are quite happy with your romantic choices. So what do you do? Keep it on “The Need To Know”. I really like how he breaks down the different scenarios, for example where you are in the same room as each other trying your best to not give away the big secret. These tend to be the most exciting relationships (or “affairs”) with the possibility of being found out adding more fuel to the fire.
“Is it me, or is you cold?/ Cause the feelings you ain’t showin’ pokin’ out your clothes”
Bad – The Gifted/ Folarin
It’s 2015 and not all girls want to settle down anymore. They are as promiscuous as ever, even more so than men in some instances. I didn’t like how Wale put Rihanna’s version on the main section of the album because Tiara Thomas’ version was by far better. Anyways this is about a girl who actually is courteous enough to let you know that she won’t fall for you but can probably give you the time of your life. If anyone knows a girl like this let me know.
“Monogamy or whatever you call it / I’m starting to think it ain’t for everybody”
Girls on Drugs – Festivus/ The Album About Nothing
By the sounds of things, Wale meets a lot of beautiful, interesting ladies on his adventures and a lot of them like partying hard. He doesn’t take them seriously, as they all seem pretty occupied just “trying to get it in” rather than looking for a nice man to settle down with. No wonder none of them get to “see his crib”.
“Man they really ain’t serious/ Do you know what type of women I’ve been dealing with?”
Seinfelds analogue on this is so accurate. He pretty much describes what marriage really is. It’s a rollercoaster that peaks at the top (the wedding) before entering a rocky experience at neck breaking speed. Probably why my generation are less likely to walk the aisle.
Usher croons on this track so smoothly, and nicely hints at where Wale is at in terms of getting married. In summary, the girl is questioning whether he will ever fully commit, but he tries to convince her that all these girls have nothing on her. He may get a lot of female attention, with many trying to “test how strong the relationship is” but she’ll always have that number one spot in his heart.
“Seinfeld: Getting engaged is like getting, uh, it’s the first hill of the roller coaster.”
There you have it, a few great tracks from Wale on relationships. There’s plenty more where they came from so see what you can find. Let me know your thoughts on some of your favourites too.
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