Relationships with Wale

Wale and Seinfeld having Breakfast TAAN

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?”

The Matrimony

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.

Follow me @seyiagboola

 

 

The ever-watchful insurer

Wearable Health on IoT and iPhone

Summary:

Using the scenario of a date night out, I try to paint the picture of a future where health insurances hijack the wearable trend to dictate people’s lives by watching their every movement. The importance of health can never be understated, and with the rise in costs and potential privatisation of the NHS this could eventually become a very real reality.

The Date begins

“Hi there, I am here for my reservation at 7:30,” Matt announced to the waiter.

After a couple of seconds, the waiter’s finger lands on Mr. Landerson’s name.

“Right this way, Mr. Landerson, you are on Table 9”

Matt follows behind with Lydia’s fingers gently wrapped round his palm. As Lydia scans the room, she can’t help but appreciate the Victorian heritage in the décor of the restaurant. Also the candlelit lamps found on each table could either be described as retro or ancient for a restaurant in the year 2022. Cutlery with contemporary designs, tables and chairs that have been well maintained even though they are of a previous century and the paperbook menus filled with golden pages provided a throwback of a time where life was a lot simpler.

They reached their table where the waiter began to instinctively pull out the chair for the lovely lady only to be stopped with a light touch on the shoulder.“Thank you but I can handle this” Lydia smiled and swiftly seated herself. Chivalry is cute but it is no longer necessary in her eyes, even small gestures. As Matt watched the short encounter, he could not help but admire a woman who is not afraid to handle herself. Even when it has become an increasingly common trait, nowadays the gender scales are rather balanced in all encounters of life

“Would you like anything to drink?” the waiter asked.

“I would like to start with a glass of water, and the lady would have?” Matt hints at his date.

“A glass of red wine please”

“Thank you sir and madam, are you happy with the menus or would you prefer the latest iPads to select an order?”

Not really minding either, Matt simply glances at Lydia for a response.

Lydia responds to the cue and says “I’m happy with these thank you, it’s nice to have break from technology once in a while”.

After a slight nod, the waiter leaves the couple to begin their date.

The evening continues at a steady pace, as the waiter returns with their drinks, orders are made and the food arrives promptly. The pair manages to balance the act of eating and making meaningful conversation simultaneously without any awkward silences. Well, silence as is no long moments without human speech. Not much in the case of their ‘kits’ firing notifications as they consume their meals. They used to call them ‘wearables’ or ‘smart devices’, now they are just ‘kits’ that vibrate and make electronic sounds to notify their wearer. This is not uncommon with the widespread use of ‘kits’ to keep track of people’s habits and lifestyle. You would be hard fought not to find an adult without a wearable tracking their daily activity. Health insurance companies drove the usage of these devices so they could use the data to price their policies effectively, but it has also been seen as useful in making better life choices. If someone was to watch from the ceiling of the restaurant, they would probably find the mixed sound of hushed voices and excited tracking devices quite amusing. But this was simply like any other Saturday evening at Joe’s Kitchen.

Your daily allowance

Matt carves a small chunk out of his custard-covered apple crumble pie and places it into his mouth. He chews it softly, savouring the taste and finally swallowing the remnants. A split second passes then his right hand vibrates. He is reaching his daily allowance in carbohydrates it seems. Briefly he contemplates to risk the awkwardness or play it cool and take the hit on this month’s insurance. Taking in an eyeful of Lydia while she sips her wine, he juggles his options. The fullness of her bosom initially tips the scales in one direction but ultimately logic overrides his lust. Paying the extra £200 premium just because he doesn’t seem a bit weird wasn’t worth it. Hopefully she overlooks the brief moment of weirdness.

“Wow, that’s sugary” Matt mutters.

Lydia looks up, mildly surprised “Oh really? It would be a waste to give-up after one bite”

“True but no worries, I’ve been told to watch my sugars so I would rather avoid the wrath of my dentist”

Followed by short giggle, Lydia teases, “Oh are you a little scared of a needle or two?”

“Actually it’s the drilling noise that gets me, one small slip and I could end up with a hole in my gums. Four fillings and my paranoia hasn’t budged” Matt admits.

Showing a hint of vulnerability amidst your bravado apparently shows her you can be emotionally available if needed. After absorbing the fun fact of her date, Lydia excuses herself to go the ladies room.

A ‘toilet break’

Upon entering, Lydia scans the restroom and makes the necessary checks before entering one of the designated cubicles. With the coast clear she sticks her fingers down her throat, throwing up the Mexican chicken skewers she apparently enjoyed 2 minutes ago. The partly digested food comes up rather smoothly with minimum pain. She has gotten better at this. Once upright, she pulls out her iPhone and quickly inputs the estimated calories for half a meal with a glass of wine. The numbers on her iHealthMonitor app suggests everything seems to be on track and plus her date seems to be going great. She knows she needs to get back to her date, but can’t help a brief visit to the DNA section. Her chances of liver disease are currently at 47%, that’ll do, for now. According to her family history if she sticks to two glasses of wine a week her chances of getting this, decreases by 25% but there’s no guarantee when it’s in your genes. On that note, a quick thought crosses her mind. How does she refuse another glass of wine? Who ever has merely one glass of wine on a date? What if she ends up back at his? Wrestling with this hiccup she washes her hands and heads back to her table.

The evening comes to a close

Sensing her return, Matt quickly closes his Twitter app and lays his phone to one side. With Lydia looking satisfied, Matt decides to gauge how well the night has gone in the eyes of his rather attractive guest.

“So how has your evening been?”

“Goooood. I’ll say 4.5 stars out of 5!” Lydia throws back jokingly.

“What’s with the .5? Such an awkward score” Matt returns the sarcasm.

“I like to be specific”

“Okay, let me be more specific. I have another bottle of wine back at mine, which is 10 minutes closer by taxi to here than where you currently live. Based on these findings maybe you should come back to mine for the evening?”

“That’s quite on the geeky side but I can’t deny your logic” Lydia gives Matt a seductive look.

Feeling optimistic Matt calls their waiter over and asks for the final bill.

The ride home

Scrolling through the various local taxi firms Matt decides whether to risk a lower band for a better price or vice versa. With the rise of less regulated services such as Uber and AirBnB, reputable taxi firms are all but gone. Anyone could become a taxi driver for the night if they register with the right company. Although, this freedom comes with complications such as the rise in “taxi incidents” that are prevalent in cities such as London. Even the new driverless cars they have been trying to roll are susceptible to computer hacking. Plus if something were to happen, lower band services aren’t covered in the T&Cs. Feeling too mentally exhausted to assess the best option, Matt opts for a ‘semi-safe’ taxi firm and orders as-soon-as pick-up. Five minutes later, he receives a notification for his ride back. Withholding his excitement, he leads Lydia out of the restaurant giving his thanks to their waiter on his way out.

The moment

The taxi journey involved a lot of touching and feeling by both parties, a rather uncomfortable encounter for their driver. Even pouring the wine required that extra bit of attentiveness as his mind had already wandered off towards the bedroom. Lydia soothingly thanks Matt for the glass of wine taking only a small sip before laying it down. She has no intention of taking another sip and not only because she had reached her limit. There were simply better things to do. As soon as their eyes connected, it was instantaneous. What started in the taxi journey was making its way swiftly to the bedroom.

Minutes go by with more of the same, then as the foreplay reaches its pinnacle Matt reaches for his drawers and extracts a condom packet. Seeing him fiddling about and not wanting the moment to be lost to a few seconds of poor hand-eye coordination in the dark, Lydia lays a hand on his.

She assures him with “I’m on the pill, there’s no need for that now.”

After processing the information, he suddenly blurts out, “Sorry but my insurance doesn’t cover this”.

The moment wasn’t gone it was crushed to pieces.

 

Thank you for reading. This is my first fiction piece so any feedback is welcome!

Follow me @seyiagboola

Mural vs Rap God – An invalid comparison

Mural_Lupe_Fiasco_Tetsuo_Youth_Album_Cover

In recent times Lupe Fiasco dropped “Mural” – a 9 minute track with no hook, purely spitting bars filled with metaphors and out-of-this-universe wordplay – that resulted in people quickly making comparisons to Eminem’s “Rap God” released in 2013. Pretty much everyone went crazy. It reminded people why he is still one of the greatest rappers of all time.

Eminem_Rap_God_Music_Video

Is this a fair comparison?

Amongst the hype of the Mural Vs. Rap God comparisons raging on Reddit and Rap Genius forums, I took an interest because I initially disagreed with this comparison. I realised you couldn’t easily compare them at all because there’s a different process to listening to Lupe than to Eminem.

Lupe Fiasco Wearing Shades

How do you enjoy Lupe Fiasco’s music?

One of the main reasons why Lupe has reduced in relevance was because his raps have become more abstract and metaphorical over time (besides LASERS). You couldn’t just pick up his music and “get it” the first time round. You actually have to:

Listen to the song.

Go on Rap Genius.

Study the content of the lyrics

Go back to the song, listen again (maybe while reading the lyrics)

Study the lyrics again because you forgot the meaning behind half lyrics

Listen again

You can see how this process can become ever more strenuous before Rap Genius ever existed. It makes you wonder who benefits more from this process Genius Inc or Lupe Fiasco.

This process probably is needed if you want to understand him fully. If not you can still enjoy Lupe in ignorance and appreciate the hooks, melody and flow of his songs along with a slight idea of what he is actually talking about.

Genius_Annotate the world_Rap

Back to the Mural and Rap God argument…

The more I thought about it, the more it made no sense to compare them because Mural lasted 9 minutes with no hook whereas Rap God lasted 6 minutes with a hook and a structure. Technically, Lupe had more space for lyricism to impress the more hard-core listeners whereas Eminem’s listener-friendly structure of the song appealed to the masses.

Which is better?

Here’s my opinion, I wouldn’t compare them but we can try right?

Let’s take them one by one:

Flow – Lu 0 – Em 1

Lupe had a more consistent flow that sounded smoother but that can interpreted as easier to execute. Em on the other hand, used around 5-6 flows in a shorter space of time. This didn’t come off as polished as Lupe’s but was more challenging thus probably a more impressive feat.

Lyrics – Lu 1 – Em 1

As mentioned Lupe had more space to include more lyrics even so the best lines and wordplays clearly go in favour of Lupe. But just to note, if you analyse Rap God, you soon realise that Em has produced greater feats of lyricism than in this song. So it would be unfair to judge him entirely on this track, as it is not his best work.

Complexity – Lu 2 – Em 1

This is difficult because Lupe fans worship him for his mastery of complexity which I believe shouldn’t entirely be seen a positive trait a lot of the time. My argument is that Eminem is able to accomplish technical and lyrically challenging feats with everyday words, pulling on a smaller pool of concepts, ideas and themes.

Lupe on the other hand has access to a wide knowledge base that provides him with more lyrical “ammo” as I would say to draw on. Essentially it’s easier to write something insightful and genius when you have access to a library than if you’re relying on a single dictionary.

Yes, Lupe wins!

BUT if you have been following then you would have soon realised that it is unfair to compare the tracks because the way it is set up favours Lupe Fiasco. So the verdict is still out, who is better? Dunno mate. I think if these two were to go head to head it would fantastic and interesting to see how great Lupe is when he can’t rely entirely on his abstract metaphors but solely his technical ability vs Eminem.