If I were a betting man, I'd wager that buzzed-about rapper Wale (pronounced "Wah-lay" not "whale") is a slam-dunk based solely on the two references in the headline above. First the Washington, D.C.-spawned MC has a sneaker-loving joint "Nike Boots" still getting play as warriors wearing the said shoes battle it out in the NBA playoffs. Hip-hop has a long tradition of celebrating sneakers. Remember Run DMC's classic "My Adidas"? While "Nike Boots" isn't as memorable as that track, it's still got a pretty good kick to it. Check it out below.
If that weren't enough to launch Wale into high gear, consider the recently released track "Chillin'," featuring pop "It girl" Lady Gaga getting all M.I.A./Gwen Stefani-like in a guest role. The song features a sample of ballpark favorite "Na Na (Hey Kiss Him Goodbye)"--first made famous in 1969 by Steam and covered in the '80s by Bananarama--and makes reference to M.I.A. in the lyrics and with Gaga's Maya Arulpragasam-styled toasting. Check it.
He also hooked up with French duo Justice for "W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E.," a track that liberally sample's Justice's "D.A.N.C.E." Check it out below.
Like Kid Cudi, Wale is another hot new hip-hop act that's creating a lot of buzz before his first album officially drops. (Perhaps it's not a coincidence that Wale turns up on the A Kid Named Cudi mixtape track "Is There Love?") Aside from fellow up-and-coming rappers, Wale has also caught the ear of some of the hottest producers in the game. Wale, born Olubowale Victor Akintimehin to Nigerian immigrant parents in D.C., was discovered by Brit "It" producer Mark Ronson, known for his work with Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, and Rhymefest. Ronson signed him to a production deal in 2007 and Interscope inked him to a recording contract in 2008 after outbidding a few other majors. Those contributing to the album in the works include Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker, who you can see wailing on a Wale cut in the clip below.
Although Wale may only have a few singles officially released and his album is still forthcoming, there is plenty of his music floating around cyberspace. I recently downloaded his 2008 effort, The Mixtape About Nothing, which, as the title and cover art suggest, is inspired by the late, great sitcom Seinfeld. The collection includes a remix of "Nike Boots" featuring Lil Wayne, tongue-and-cheekily titled "The Cliché Lil Wayne Feature (It's The Remix Baby)." The set also plays up the Seinfeld tie-in with dialog from the show, a surprise shout-out from Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and a track titled "The Kramer." The cut, in which Wale questions the use of the n-word, features clips of Michael Richards' racist flameout and subsequent apology. I think that track, like Wale, is no joke. How about you?