TSS Presents Fifteen Minutes With Wale
Ladies and gents, Wale has arrived.
After a few years of putting in work on a regional & underground level, his music was thrust into the spotlight with the release of several critically acclaimed mixtapes. And now, the D.C. spitter is ready to take it mainstream with his Attention Deficit album around the corner.
Even though his world has grown larger & his options expanded, Wale is steadfast in his determination to stay an individual in a world of collaborations and co-signs. Early one morning recently, he got on the phone with the Crew’s David D. to talk about this dilemma, the reception to his single, “Chillin” and which character from The Wire he is most like.
TSS: Hey, Wale?
Wale: Hey, how you doing man?
TSS: What are you up to right now?
Wale: I’m on my way to New York from D.C. right now. (Brief yawn) I got a couple of photo shoots to do and interviews.
TSS: I hear you yawning, they wearing you out man?
Wale: Yea, man, I didn’t get home till late. We had a crazy show in D.C. last night.
TSS: Yea, I ran into you here at the Jugrnaut in Chicago a few weeks ago. You were doing an in-store and you seemed pretty tired then too. Has the tour kind of taken its toll on you physically?
Wale: Absolutely. I got two shows tonight and one tomorrow in New York. It’s been a lot of tough work.
TSS: Have you looked at this like boot camp for the tour you’re supposed to be going on with Jay this summer?
Wale: I think this is actually the hardest part right now. It’s just a lot of early flying. (Simulates a yawn) Going to bed late. Not eating right. Y’know, just eating whatever you can get your hands on because everything is closed.
TSS: Now, your “Chillin” video recently came out then didn’t come out and as soon as it came out you went to Twitter to kind of explain it. Do you feel like you have to justify a single like that to your core audience?
Wale: Naw, I mean. Not necessarily explain it. I think it’s important just in case everyone is not hip to what’s going on. I just gotta get them a little hip to it because some people understand what’s going on and some people don’t. Sometimes you gotta throw a little bit out there to say “look” so people get it now.
TSS: And you have this “Family Affair” video also coming out at the same time. Is this to reach some sort of balance to reach that side that doesn’t get it?
Wale: Naw, that’s what I do. Mixtape About Nothing is kind of my niche. I’m the creative song-writing guy. Or the go-go party record guy. I want to do something different because the concept of this album is attention deficit. It’s left. Or not necessarily left. It’s just to bring you in my world.
I feel like that was the best way to do it, because most people send out an invitation to go party and get the most popular girl to send out invitations. When you hear the album, you’re gonna hear a lot of those records that are like “wow, that’s an amazing record.”
TSS: It looks like you have Slim Charles from The Wire in the video.
Wale: Yeaaaah. Well, I grew up listening to him and his band growing up. He’s in one of the biggest bands (Backyard Band) in D.C. history. So, I grew up watching him and we became cool like three years ago. It was kind of a no-brainer when I got the record. I saw the treatment and I knew who I wanted to play that role.
TSS: How closely did you follow The Wire?
Wale: Oh, I’ve seen every episode.
TSS: Which character from the show is Wale?
Wale: Probably Michael. The new guy. The leader, still. You got all the Marlo’s and the Slim Charles’ and the Omar’s and he does his own thing. He’s not really influenced by that. And you can tell he’s about to take over and do his own thing. So I’d probably compare myself to him.
TSS: Now, at the end it seemed like the game kind of changed him though. Like it seemed like he was going off the deep end. What are you doing to make sure you’re not running up on people with a double barrel-
Wale: What do you think is going off the deep end?
TSS: Well what do you think is going off the deep end? I mean Michael almost lost his way.
Wale: I don’t know if he lost his way, though. He took the route that he though he deemed necessary. I think I’m doing the same thing. I’m trying my best to connect with the people. I’m trying my best. I’m trying to make it work anyway that I can. I mean, it’s a struggle. It’s an inner struggle. And it’s an outer struggle. And I’m trying to do it the best I can. Like Michael was, you have a lot of people saying “do that” and “do this.” “I want you to work with me” and all that. And he kind of did his own thing towards the end.
TSS: Yea, you’ve kind of embraced the loner personality, but you have to collaborate in Hip-Hop.
Wale: Yea, obviously I collaborate a lot. But as far as major co-signs, those are my people. The Bun B’s, the Jay’s. From Kanye to Pharrell, everyone that’s co-signed those are my people but I don’t really have any guy that’s pulling my coat.
I embrace it because there isn’t anything given but my buzz and my fanbase is because I have a body of work they can appreciate. It’s not because of a song or a major co-sign. Not me being signed to this or that person. It’s because of the work I’ve been putting in for four years.
TSS: I saw a quote from this track “Triumph” from the album where you say “I reached out to Kanye for help/ but us niggas gotta do it for ourselves.” What, if anything, happened with there?
Wale: It’s more of like a broad statement. I’ve known Kanye for like three years now. It’s like you listen to somebody, you enjoy their records and the music they produce. You think that once you get signed it’s as simple as calling their A&R or their label and getting it in. But it’s not that easy. There’s a lot of things that have happened that have shown me it’s not that easy. That’s basically what I’m trying to say; it’s not easy to get that collaboration.
TSS: Were you always this kind of loner, though? Even growing up?
Wale: Yeah, man. I got kicked off the football team when I was in school for doing my own thing.
TSS: (Laughs) What did you do?
Wale: Stubborn. I was just in tune with my own thing. I wasn’t in to following the crowd for better or for worse.
TSS: Are you still kind of like that? Are you still stubborn when it comes to working with people in the studio?
Wale: Naw, not really. I work well with 90 percent of the people I collab with. It’s always going to be creative differences.
TSS: With this Back To The Feature mixtape, what was it like working with all those personalities? You’ve got many good artists making appearances on there.
Wale: I love building from the ground up, unless schedules are just completely retarded and you just have to get it.
TSS: Off the top of your head, who had the craziest guest verse on that tape? Who just blew you away with a crazy sixteen?
Wale: K’Naan. Me and K’Naan’s record is crazy. Me and Joe Budden were really competitive with it. Bun B. We were real competitive. Me, J. Cole and Curren$y got a joint on there. We were real competitive.
TSS: What’s that like? How does that competition work out?
Wale: Sometimes we just give each other a line (Laughs). The people will know but we just go at it. Not personally going at it, but it’s like “nigga look, my line is hotter than yours.”
TSS: Aight, man. I know you got a shoot coming up. Anything else you wanna say before you go?
Wale: Naw, man, that’s pretty much everything. Thanks for the time you took to interview me.
TSS: Thanks a lot, man.
Wale: Peace, brotha.