"Imagination is More Important Than Knowledge"

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Respect Magazine - Wale Story


Here’s the third piece from the latest issue of RESPECT. Magazine. Take note: This interview was conducted before the ink was even dry on Wale’s Maybach Music Group deal and before Mr. Folarin made amends with his old friend Kid Cudi. Glad these dudes resolved their differences. I fuck with them both muscially. Ha!

Go to respect-mag for more ‘Le flicks. And subscribe, dammit!

Hustle Hard

Yes, it’s true. Like LeBron James, Wale decided to join a Miami-based team. Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group has a new recruit. Haters revolt—or prepare for the hits.


Wale is chillin’. From his Westin hotel room in Florida, Mr. Folarin lounges in his bed and seems relaxed for the first time in months. After much deliberation, he’s finally decided to join forces with Rick Ross and his new imprint. He knows that the free-agent move will be heavily criticized by some, but he’s finally made his peace with it.

Adversity isn’t new to the Washington, D.C.–bred MC who overcame the public crucifixion when his Attention Deficit debut’s sales numbers fell way short of the fiery freshman’s great expectations. While some would’ve been embarrassed and taken their ball and gone home, ’Le regrouped with an effective grassroots campaign that was capped of by the release of the critically-acclaimed mixtape More About Nothing.

Everything you want, you gotta work hard for it. And now with a business cosign from one of hip-hop’s top artists, Mr. No Days Off is out to prove that his sophomore album will be met with the sweet taste of success.

RESPECT: Thanks for agreeing to talk. You don’t do every interview that’s offered to you anymore.

WALE: I’m still new, but when you’re brand-new, you’re kind of encouraged to do every interview. I’m not knocking anybody’s publication, but I needed that break to observe and understand.

So in many ways Attention Deficit ended one chapter of your career, right?

Absolutely. It was a weird time. The game’s changed. My album dropped in November of last year. Or was it 2009? The increase of viral marketing has shot up substantially. Niggas wasn’t dropping videos every week. So I learned a lot. The viral marketing from artists that aren’t independent—acting as independent. Like Ross doing a video for “Devil in a New Dress,” that wasn’t heard of back then. With my next album, the marketing that’s gonna come on top of the marketing dollars they give me, it’s going to be incredible. I know the game now.

I learned a lot, and certain things humbled me. We could take the Cudi situation, you could say it humbled me a little bit, but it showed me the nature of this beast. It showed me certain things can change in people. People’s feelings can change like that, and you can’t necessarily keep the same guidelines that you live in your real world. You can’t apply those in the music industry. It’s a different monster. For better or worse.

Why do you think Cudi’s criticism of you in Complex was such a big deal?

People wanted something to get behind at that point. People wanted an interesting competition, an interesting argument, a fight, I guess. It came out of nowhere, but I’m not in that dude’s shoes. I don’t know. From the outside looking in I can assume, but the nature of human beings is crazy.

Did you have a true friendship? Were you really close outside the music?

Absolutely. I can tell you this: The last three times we’ve seen each other, I felt something.

That’s before you did the “Number Won” song?

This is a thing I never talked about. “Number Won” ain’t a diss record. “Number Won” is me scratching my head, like, this is my man that used to hit me when I was living with my girl in SoHo, like “I’m downstairs, what you doing? Let’s go to Bape, let’s go to the studio.” I’d always be like, “All right, bet.” I remember we had a show—I don’t know the chronological order of these situations, but I believe this was the first time that I felt something. We had a show at [NYC’s] Governors Island, I think his album just came out, and I was with my dudes from back home. So I’m just like, “Oh, yeah, that’s my man Cudi.” He had a rack of his people around him. I’m on this one little shuttle thing, he’s on the next one. I’m knocking on the window, like, What’s up? He wasn’t waving. Knock-knock-knock. Wasn’t waving. Knock-knock-knock. Wasn’t waving. Okay, maybe he don’t hear me. And then he looked over, and he texts me: Sup, bro. That was kinda weird. And then somebody was like, “Young’n don’t really mess with you like that.” It was between me and him to do the MCing for MTV’s Music Video Awards in ’09. Cudi had a bigger record, Cudi’s notoriety was bigger than mine, [so he must have thought,] Why the fuck did they choose Wale? Everything kinda changed after that.

But if you look at it from outside at something like GQ—there’s you, there’s Cudi, there’s Drake. They’ve achieved bigger success than you. If anyone’s gonna be catching feelings about something, shouldn’t it be you?

Drake is one of the most talented artists out right now. They could say that Degrassi shit, whatever. He can rap, he can sing, he can compose, he can arrange. He’s not a pure, Brian McKnight type singer, but at this point, he could make a song that connects with Brian McKnight’s demo more than Brian McKnight could. That’s amazing to me. If the muthafucka was born in the ’70s, he’d be legendary. That’s what I think about Drake. Cudi as well. My shit is more traditional. I knew from jump it was going to take a while. Being next to Lil Wayne accelerates the process. Being next to Kanye accelerates the process. Being next to Mark Ronson doesn’t necessarily accelerate anything. It’s cool, it looks cool, but it didn’t accelerate nothing. I’m just the muthafuckin’ dark-skinned nigga with dreads from D.C. I knew it was gonna take a little bit longer.

How did dealing with the failure of Attention Deficit lead into doing the More About Nothing mixtape?

I wasn’t panicking. The shows never stopped. I was getting 60K to do colleges a week after selling 28,000. Money wasn’t stopping at all. I went and bought two cars. I got myself a house. I’m not mad financially. The competitor in me is like, What the fuck. That’s when we started the “No Days Off” series. I started touching the people more, I went to all the neighborhoods, I went to the mall, I did whatever I could do. And as far as the music went, the only frustrating thing I can say is that some of them songs I feel could’ve affected our culture a little more. I ain’t saying I wrote the next “Dear Mama,” but “Diary,” “90210” and “Shades”—those are records that I wish could’ve had more attention.

You still love those songs, and you still perform and push those songs.

It’s so many things that happen that are poetic justice. Certain things gave me a little bit of peace of mind. Niggas are starting to get introduced to my shit, which is cool. I wasn’t giving up. I said, “Look, I’m-a get this shit to, like, ’bout 140,000 sold.” That’s going to be my goal this time. Did what I had to do. And then that hunger, that desire to be on top, that desire for people to fall in love with my music was back like day one. So I said, “Let me do a sequel to the More About Nothing mixtape,” because that’s when my hunger was at an all-time high. The hunger that I had on this one was way more than the first time. Because it was almost like a fear of losing. My back was against the wall. I did crazy numbers the first day.

When you approach a mixtape like that, is it almost like making an album?

You gotta have a moment where everything clicks. I got 40 songs right now, but it ain’t clicked yet as far as the body of work that I’m trying to create this time. I got good songs that I’ll probably sell to some movies, or I’ll put on somebody else’s mixtape. But to have that moment when it clicks—and I’m so close now, because my inspiration is going faster and faster, the quality of music is going faster and faster—but I have to have that moment.

What’s the connection to Ross? How did that come about?

Me, Ross and Waka were like the homecoming kings for black colleges. We beat up the black college scene, man. Basically, he talked to me and was like, “Man, I think you’re so close, I think you’re real close.” So we met a couple times, talked. I’ve met with a lot of people, and I wish I was bold enough to say their names right now. I’ve been around genius muthafuckas, but Ross, that dude is a special nigga. I mean, to know what he’s overcome. You talk about back against the wall.

Character assassination.

Character assassination to the maximum. What’d he come back with? Hit record after hit record, and arguably the best record of 2010. I know the Ross that niggas don’t know. He took it to a whole other level as far as overcoming shit and just being focused. Sometimes he just be like, “Fuck those donkeys. ’Cause when you start making hit records, watch how everybody switch up.” And my affiliation with Ross, it’s almost like a joint venture; it’s not like I’m here to be a sidekick boy by any means. I’m my own brand. He respects that and he understands that.

By the time we read this, on March 1, your deal with his Maybach Music Group label might be official.

I’m signing tomorrow morning. Def Jam, J Records and Jive was like, “We’ll sign you without it.” But there’s no way I could put my faith in people that don’t understand black culture. I’m gonna give ’em a record talking about black people’s story, and they’re gonna tell me if it’s good enough or not? Nah. If I have a conversation with Ross and say, “I believe in this right here,” he’ll make them believe it, and we can put it out. He absolutely knows what he’s doing, man. Every city he go in, he’s touching the streets—like, “Who are the niggas that’s poppin’? I’m gonna show them love. These niggas are gonna pick me up from the airport, we’re gonna break bread together”—who does that?

Another artist who you work with and catches a lot of heat is Waka Flocka.

Fuck hating on Waka Flocka. He has three big, monster radio records. You’re trying to tell me that’s not hip-hop? You’re connecting with all of these people over hard beats—you’re tryin’ to tell me that’s not hip-hop? So—not to say that they’re the same artists at all—but that means Ol’ Dirty Bastard wasn’t hip-hop, right? You’re telling me Onyx wasn’t hip-hop? Onyx in, what, ’95—very similar to Waka in 2010.

Waka obviously ended up being a great connection for you.

That’s a good dude, dawg. And yeah, I’m the same Wale who did “Dig Dug (Shake It).” That’s me too. So I can’t say, “Look, Ma, no hands”? That hit was the big bang theory. That song had three niggas with three separate fan bases, all together with a giant hook. You couldn’t deny it.

Back to Ross. When you first started recording together, was the music chemistry there quicker than you thought?

Oh, man, I wrote my verse to “Pandemonium” extremely fast. It’s a vibe, man, when I’m with Meek and Ross. It’s something in the air. Like people call me the deep-thinking, poetry guy or whatever, but I truly believe that when artists are together—like, you see Cudi and Kanye—the music evolves. It’s something that happens when people are in the room with each other. I haven’t had that feeling since I was rapping with my friends in college at Virginia State.

I think what most people are concerned with is how the association with Ross now changes the sound of Wale’s music. Am I just gonna hear Wale over these Southern beats?

Versatility. Like, I just did a song with Rare Essence. I got some shit from Statik Selektah that’s crazy. I’m influenced by a lot of different shit. I’m influenced by Southern hip-hop—I’m from D.C.! We grew up on that fuckin’ UGK, Scarface, Cash Money. I had those songs right next to my Reasonable Doubt CD. So that’s always been my influence. All genres. I did the Justice Euro shit. I just like music. People need to stop trying to put shit in a box. Not every rapper can be put in a box.

Put it this way: Ross is gonna help me accentuate what I was doing already. He’s gonna make those calls to producers that tried to give me the B-folder beats. Now I’m-a get the real A-folder beats. That’s what we’re here for. Everything’s gonna be big.



Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Melo to the Lakers?

By Pat Mixon

Could the Los Angeles Lakers and their risk-taking owner Dr. Jerry Buss be planning the boldest secret move of all: trading for Carmelo Anthony? And, does the latest trade of Sasha Vujacic for Joe Smith open the door to an Andrew Bynum-for-'Melo move?

All answers point to a resounding yes. This is the hush-hush story of the league. And, Laker management wants it that way.

Or, could this all simply be fairy tale rumors? Sure, we can’t deny that. But, there is actually meat to this story.

Picking up Joe Smith meant the Lakers accomplished three things that could lead to this bold trade:

-Freed up the $5.4 million salary paid to Sasha.

-Qualified for a $5 million free exception on any trade difference. This means that the Lakers can play this “get out of jail card” on a trade to make the numbers work.

-Smith is another big off the bench.

Joe Smith adds another big to the Lakers’ bench and makes the case that Andrew Bynum is now tradeable. The real reason is that the Lakers will ride out the Kobe Bryant era with the foot fully pressed to the metal, with no regard to the future.

I used to make the case that Andrew Bynum was the Lakers’ future.

The idea went like this. After Kobe and Pau Gasol are done racking up rings, Andrew Bynum would then take over as the franchise player. And, with Kobe, Pau, Lamar Odom and Co.’s salaries off the books at that time, the Lakers would have a money war chest to sign new free agents.

This plan was all predicated on Drew being the center for the next 10 years. But now, there are serious doubts to that scenario, including will he ever be 100 percent healthy or play a full season, and it opens the door to this move. The trade last week of Sasha Vujacic for Joe Smith makes it more plausible.

Now, could the Lakers flush the Andrew Bynum plan on the chance to get 'Melo?

Absolutely, yes. Carmelo is only 26 years old. Yes, still that young. Amazing.

You team him now with Kobe and Pau. He’ll carry the load as Kobe winds down his career (not happening soon, sorry!!). So, the Lakers would be loaded for the next five-plus years.

And, what LA loses in height with Drew leaving, they gain with 'Melo. He’s still a forward with size. And, 'Melo would give the Lakers legitimately three players on the floor that could demand double teams, in Kobe, Pau and 'Melo. How do opposing teams defend that?

With Joe Smith, the Lakers would also have height to still deal with any of the teams with real length like the Boston Celtics (their window is closing with the Big Three really getting up in age), the Orlando Magic (who knows if they will ever gel or get a consistent lineup), and the Dallas Mavericks (still Texas’ best team. Sorry, Spurs fans.)

The Lakers not only still have Pau and Lamar, who can easily start, but add Joe Smith and Theo Ratliff coming off the bench. This is a league of running and gunning teams and by adding 'Melo to the mix, the Lakers could pick up their tempo as well. But they don't need to.

Do the numbers work? If you use Drew’s salary, the exemption and maybe a Luke Walton or Ron Artest (Matt Barnes has taken away some of his minutes already this year), it’s much closer than you realize.

This is not fantasy GM going here. While everyone is talking about New York or New Jersey or how 'Melo and Chris Paul are going to hook up, the Lakers are sitting in the wings.

Here's one last thing that is nearly a guarantee: Denver will trade 'Melo this year. Period. If they don’t, they get nothing. And, 'Melo must approve any trade.

Lastly, don’t underestimate the fact that Kobe and 'Melo are very close, with 'Melo being literally the only person Kobe hung out with on the 2008 Olympic team.

No, the time has come. The Lakers will pull the rip cord on Andrew Bynum as the center for the future and Dr. Buss will roll the dice again and come up lucky 7’s.

This is the secret scenario that will blow everyone away. And, it actually has merit.

Laker Carmelo Anthony has a ring to it. Don’t you think? Many rings, actually.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Virgo x 1.4.11

Normally don't follow horoscopes but this is kinda cool:

"You have a lot to do today and you are eager to jump in and get started. The ambitious Capricorn Solar Eclipse creates movement in your 5th House of Self-Expression, encouraging you to show others how your artistic skills can lend support to an important project or business venture. Don't be surprised if someone likes your work so much that he or she becomes your greatest supporter. Try not to make assumptions about the roles that your allies can play. If another person wants to help, graciously accept the offer with a smile."