Ambition: Selling Vs. Selling Out

Over the past week, it’s been interesting to read and hear some of the feedback from readers, followers, peers, and others about Wale’s Ambition, the MC’s sophomore effort and first official release on Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group.  It really warms the heart to hear people having debates that concern more than comparing one rapper to another.  No, there have been more points being brought up about artistic integrity and the business over art approach that artists tend to take in order to move units.

This is not a review.  I gave Ambition a few spins and decided it was not for me, for the most part.  There were some tracks I could get with, but many more I couldn’t.  One of my pet peeves when listening to hip-hop studio albums is when I can listen to an album and, track for track, can tell where an artist said:

“Yeah, this one’s for the bitches” (Wale went OD on this particular one for Ambition)

“Yeah, this one’s for the club”

“Yeah, this one’s for the radio”

This was all too apparent on Ambition.  I’m not sure what I expected, though, since his debut, Attention Deficit didn’t get much play in the ride, either.  Thing is, I happen to live in DC, where Wale had a presence on mixtapes while my friends back home on the west coast were saying “who the fuck is whale?”  I was actually a big advocate for him as an artist.  Then he got signed.  Then came “Chillin'” (Lady Gaga?  You serious?), which to me marked the “welp…respect don’t pay the bills” point in Wale’s career.  And that’s okay…teenyboppers need some music to Dougie to in their tapered skinny jeans and what-not.  Just admit that respect isn’t what you’re here for as an artist.  Admit that you’re not here for props.  Doesn’t seem like Wale got that memo, though.  The guy will rant and rave on Twitter about people’s opinions of him as an artist as if he were a passionate, hungry, young MC and then proceeds to put out “I’m just here for my check” records. 

There’s a big difference between wanting an artist to keep making the same music forever (illogical) and wanting an artist to show progress throughout his career (perfectly sensible).  A true artist can keep his original fan base and still rope in new listeners through crafting quality music and putting in good old-fashioned hard work.  That isn’t to say that Wale is or isn’t a “true artist”, just that Ambition sounds like pandering for crossover appeal and airplay and Wale has potential to be above the need to do that. 

I’m no hip-hop purist.I honestly want better for not only him but for today’s hip-hop.  With all of the resources at our fingertips thanks to technological advances, there are still those who have no desire to seek out anything that isn’t being spoon-fed to them by urban radio. 

One of my favorite Wale joints off of Paint A Picture: Mary Mary x Wale

One of the joints off the new album I actually liked: Double M Genius x Wale

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1 Comment

  1. I have to agree as once a big Wale fan, I have my doubts about buying or otherwise acquiring the Ambition album he’s turning into those rappers that he mocked earlier in his career… :/

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