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The transparent emotionalism that Wale boldly specializes in makes him Maybach Music Group’s most consistent artist in their arsenal—and a refreshingly unironic presence in hip-hop. Even his 40 minute delay to a sold out Paradise Rock Club in Boston last night couldn’t sour the spirits of concert-goers: Wale’s sound can easily dazzle earbuds and stadiums alike. The first song of the evening was Ambition’s “Legendary” and while spewing bars he shamelessly toted around a promotional sign for The Album About Nothing (his fourth record due out March 31st). “It’s almost time,” he coyly remarked before dipping into “Chain Music.” “I got a confession to make,” Wale teased as soon as the beat stopped. “You guys are not at a concert—this is a real nigga convention, a pep rally of sorts. The Album About Nothing is my most personal piece of music to date. Every real nigga in this motherfucker has obstacles in they motherfucking life.” But if the Washington DC native was experiencing any hardship, it was impossible to tell. His entire performance was nothing short of a celebration.
Sipping from a purple flashing cup, Wale playfully displayed a smile as he indulged his female fans in the audience and even called out a few girls who were clearly trying too hard: “Thinking ya’ll one of the Kardashians but this is not a reality show, it’s a hip-hop show.” He wore the role of hypeman quite well when Fat Trel briefly took over “Loyalty” from the Festivus mixtape (released this past December), shouted out fans and cousins who shared the stage with him, and informed us that even his little brother was working the merch table (“…we got basketball cards, Pokemon cards, sex tapes, everything!”) Of course, Wale’s smoother tracks that are heavily tinged with R&B are his calling card—a concept that he is fully aware of. “I haven’t had time to write love songs. You write “Lotus” and get a certain energy, but I wear a smile in public and been going through some real shit.” This was the perfect introduction for “Girls on Drugs” which transformed into “Lotus Flower Bomb.” “Bad” made for a vulnerable musing, but soon the pace was picked up with “Slight Work,” “Ambition,” and “Rotation.”
It seemed inevitable that “The Body” would spark a sing off in which the crowd was divided down the middle to see which side could recite “you remind me of my jeep” the loudest. By this point, Wale traded in his purple cup in favor of a half-empty bottle of Hennessy. “I have a question to ask you before I go—it’s you that on that pole?” he quipped as the remix to “Rack City” flooded the speakers. “Clappers” soon followed and the crowd completely lost it. As he recorded the audience dancing and rapping to “No Hands,” it wasn’t long before Wale was doing the same exact thing. It seemed like he was basking in the glow of the music so much that he forgot he was the one who made it. “I’m gonna walk off stage to this song because it’s one of my favorites” he told us as the instrumental to “Girls on Drugs” started to blare. But Wale couldn’t resist performing the first verse to it just one more time. If this is how he delivers before The Album About Nothing even drops, the aftermath of its release promises to be epic.