Well, the whole hubbub about Wale seems to have, at least momentarily, come and gone. His greatly anticipated, and also just plain great, Attention Deficit came and went, with the hyperspeed Internet media waiting to find the next Next Big Thing. So, what’s a guy to do when he needs a little attention? Release a second mixtape based around Seinfeld (after 2008’s A Mixtape About Nothing), of course.
Arguably his best work, Mixtape About Nothing was as hard-hitting in the drama department as it was in the humor. Wale investigated the impact of racial slurs as well as he made sly references to sitcom material. In a sense, it was the ultimate Blog-hop representation: a willingness to commit to an aesthetic that goes beyond the mainstream, a unique voice, a willingness to joke around, and a love of referencing other pop culture. Perhaps I’m not the best person to explain why, but the blog culture (from indie rock to hip-hop purists) love Wale’s mixtapes. While all of this sounds characteristic of Attention Deficit, it should come as no surprise that Wale’s return to blog-released music from his quest into the record stores should signal a complete return to the purest form of that sound.
So, he already used the opening theme. What do you start with, then? A slow piano line and a loose, monotonous set of couplets about making that “proverbial lemonade” when you get dealt lemons. The track kicks up, still a little melancholy, until Seinfeld finally comes in, talking about how Wale needs to go to Vienna to see the top psychiatrists. The rest of the song seems to sample that famous 90’s Bulls starting lineup song, with Wale spitting about how he’s “hungry like a plastic hippopotamus.” The flow is amazing, covering everything from music label politics to modern medicine.
Horn stabs and live drumming courtesy of producer Mark Henry spice up “The MC”, with Wale turning in more great lines (his rhymes are “tighter than some bike shorts”). “The Soup” opens with that ultimate catchphrase of a character, The Soup Nazi. Best Kept Secret produces a slick, electric guitar-heavy track for Wale to rap over, even remixing that “No soup for you” line for the bridge. There’s another brilliant NBA line: “Shoulda been an all-star, I’m Crawford for Interscope”. He’s even waiting for “Pitchfork to say Wale’s the way to go.” Wale, this might not be Pitchfork, but we’re behind you. Then he announces that he’s got to go get his chowder on, and the track’s over.
“The Breeze” features Wiz Khalifa & UCB’s Tre. Lines about leaving your show canceled keep the verses from being staid aggressive posing. “The Friends N Strangers” features a tough look at abortion, even sampling Maury’s “You are not the father!”Later, an aggressive Seinfeld argues with Larry King about how he wasn’t canceled, but rather went out as number one in “The Numbers One (Contest)”. The track examines the competition between the famous over that number one spot, and the pressure it means: “I been like Quasimoto with all the shit on my shoulders.”
“The War”, which features Daniel Merriweather, is a ballad of sorts about the “war” between men and women. It’s a bit cliched, but it’s not terrible. The military drum roll and plinking strings are good enough to forget the laughable moments. The swanky, Dougie Howser name-dropping “The Black N Gold” is a fun, upbeat club jam.
“KD Interlude” proves how much Wale loves the NBA. “Youngest scoring champ ever” Kevin Durant sits in, acting as if nobody would know who he is (maybe it’s just my NBA love, but hey, I didn’t need the two minutes of KD being prodded into listing more details of his career, funny and tired as it was). “The Guilty Pleasure (No Hands)” is a Waka Flaka track that features Wale, more than anything, and Roscoe Dash.
“The Trip Downtown” and “The Ambitious Girl” pair up for a forgettable duo of downtempo balladry. A few more tracks show Wale trying other styles, before “The Power” returns to Seinfeldry, Kramer’s power to seduce a nun away from the church echoing Wale’s ultimate hip-hop power. “The Getaway” is a tape closer at its core, about how he “left my home alone, you can call me Macauly”, giving shout-outs to everyone. And I mean everyone.
In the end, it’s just about as good as the first Seinfeld mixtape. And that means that it’s pretty damn good. Some of the slower tracks are worth skipping, but there are a bunch of songs here that could have been on Attention Deficit, which is also saying something.
More About Nothing (free download)