Album Review: Wale ‘Shine’

Written By: @ May 1, 2017 @ 2:11 PM EDT
0/0

Less is More.

The hardest part of writing an album review is wiping your mental slate clean. This process is necessary to free your mind of all biases, and allow for an honest listen & an objective critique of any body of work.

For many years- throughout barbershop conversations, neighborhood stoop debates, and countless group chats, I’ve slandered Wale. He’s become an easy target for rap critics and casual listeners; and a frequent occupant of the “that nigga trash” category. If we’re being honest though, Wale isn’t really “trash”, far from it actually; it’s just hard to connect with his style most often because it always feels like he’s doing too much. Whether over complicating rhymes to the point they feel convoluted, or doing the most in the media complaining at every negative comment.

dwight howard gif

Albeit, Wale has made hits, has memorable verses (No Hands), dope poems (Ambitious Girl), and a solid project (TAAN), but he’s always felt like somewhat of an underachiever. I’ve always likened Wale’s career to that of NBA star Dwight Howard; an entertainer with immense talent out the gate but never living up to the hype. He complains all the time, his teammates hate him, and even his coach at times. Fans love to poke at him, and he’s not going to get you to the promise land as the sole franchise player, but will have a palpable impact on any team he’s on.

With all that said and out my system, I’d be remiss and a total hater if I didn’t tell you how surprisingly good his 5th album ‘Shine’ really is. Still Here Ignoring Negative Energy is the acronym that truly embodies the framework of this project. He’s not trying too hard, and seems to find the perfect balance in simplifying the music while still rapping at a high level; in simpler terms ‘Issa Vibe’. I really like this version of Wale, Zyla’s dad. Not sure if it’s because of his newborn daughters birth, but Wale seems to be comfortable with his place in the game and doesn’t care about what people are or aren’t saying about him this go round.

wale drake

Less is more, and by more I mean ‘More Life’. Wale seems to have taken Drake’s More Life approach for this project and it’s worked out well for him. For definition purposes ‘The More Life Approach’ is considered an all purpose, any occasion body of work; focusing less on cohesiveness & more on individual song vibes. Wale gives you a bit of everything on this ‘Shineplaylist album. You get the braggadocios Wale that effortlessly shits on his haters like on the first track “Thank God”. With real DC bravado rapping lines like, “All you’ll ever be good at is rolling weed and playing 2k” I’m wondering if Wale is taking shots at my life? HA!

Another vibe you get is the United Nations Wale. Utilizing international sounds you hear afro beat records like “My Love” ft Wizkid, Major Lazer & Dua Lipa and “Fine Girl”. He even dabbles in Latino culture with the “Colombia Heights” record, featuring an all Spanish verse from J Balvin. You also have the tracks that make you want to get in the Uber XL & roll up the backwoods with Mr. Folarin while headed to the function. For example “Running Back” featuring Lil Wayne. Wale brought back the drug induced Wayne we use to love, giving me remnants of 2007 Weezy. One of my personal favorite records “Mathematics” also fits the aforementioned mold.

Wale also delivers lyrically on this album. “C.C. White” is a standout track that really shows off his lyrical prowess. Using personification to bring alive the perils of cocaine addiction makes this track great. The production on this record seems to even imitate the stages of a crack cocaine high. This record reminds me of Jay-z’ classic record “I Know” off American Gangsta. “Smile” is also Wale reaching his lyrical apogee. “Im smoking purple, the law enforcement be murking brothers, The moon lit and I’m Cottonmouth like Mahershala” SHEESH!

cocaine

Fashion Week” and “Heaven on Earth” are the two records that are a no brainers for radio. G-Eazy lending a dope verse on “Fashion Week” compliments Folarin talking that fly runway talk. The Chris Brown assist on “Heaven on Earth” is major. The hook is definitely relatable and commercially viable. The women are sure to enjoy both records, and if the women like it; I love it. “DNA” {Dick n Advice} also brings back Love Jones Wale with a laudable poem capable of tapping into any woman’s heartstrings.

Shine’ is Wale’s best album to date. While I won’t apologize for my past slander, I will admit that this album has compelled me to put some respect on his name. Wale has been in the game for nearly a decade now, and has produced one of the top 5 projects in an already stellar 2017. He’s outlasted everyone in his 2009 draft class and has proven he’s getting better. For him at this stage to still be around, relevant, and creating music at a high level is a testament to a distinguished rap career. If you truly listen with objective ears, you will see the moon man is shining with this project, and it’s a solid 8/10.

@NajiChill

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18 Comments
  • Vurbz Fenomeno

    Yeah CC white is the best track on there…everything else is kinda mehh

  • RON SIMMONS

    The album is solid. After a few listens I felt it. I was expecting more of a summer on sunset vibe but I like the direction he went in on the album.

  • Naji_biggest_fan

    Man, I knew I could have relied on Naj for an honest review. Way to go bro. I used to be the biggest Wale hater. I can’t lie – worst than the guy than calls him Whoopi on here. But honestly, He can rap and your commentary on him over rapping was dead on, on why I disliked him. I think that’s why Bdot does as well. But Honestly, I think this album should put him back in discussion. 2017 – 1. DAMN 2. SHINE 3. I decided 4. More Life 5. Culture 6. Hendrixx.. But honestly, you are right, he is still here and still relevant to most.

    • Naji Grampus

      Really Appreciate the read 🙏🏾 Thank you

  • assasin

    Love the honest review… Love the album

  • U-Gene

    Garbage juice

  • do_betta

    Wale is a great rapper.

  • el jim chapo guzman

    Out of 5 mic I’ll give this album 1 mic.

    • THE REAL mac DIESEL

      AND I’LL GIVE YA MOMS 1 MIC!!!! TIME FOR A MIC CHECK!!!! LMAO!!!! WHERE’S THAT WHORE AT??? SPANISH TRASH!!!!

      DON’T HATE ON MY OPINION!!!!

  • THE REAL mac DIESEL

    @ NAJI

    8/10

    ^

    SOMEBODY NEEDS TO SLAP SOME FUCKIN’ SENSE INTO YOU!!!! EITHER YOU ON THAT MMG PAYOLA PROGRAM OR YOU AFRAID OF HIM AND HIS HOMEGIRLS CLAWING YOUR EYES OUT!!!! YOU FUCKIN’ BOZO!!!!

    …………………HA!!!! SHIT IS TRASH!!!! TRACY CHAPMAN CAN’T RAP FOR SHIT!!!!

    #TARAJI #DIVA

    DON’T HATE ON MY OPINION!!!!

    • Naji Grampus

      I’m not a Wale fan but I give credit where it’s due

      • THE REAL mac DIESEL

        SHUT THE HELL UP!!!!

        DON’T HATE ON MY OPINION!!!!

  • THE ALMIGHTY LUGZ WEARING BAMA

    WALE IS A POET…YOU BAMAS WOULDN’T UNDERSTAND!!! FK YO FEELINGS!!!

    • If Wale was a poet he’d write poems. But Wale is not a poet.

  • RapFAN

    This is his worse album to date. Sunset being the worse mixtape. Wale will bounce back. We’ll still support the tour… But this album is wack.

  • Scromes1212

    I’m one of the biggest Wale fans and while I appreciate the honest review, this not his best album by far. Listened to the whole album 3 times and I want to like it but I’m not feeling it (it hurt to type that). It’s sounds like a knockoff More Life album. And some of the songs mentioned in the write up been out. The track with Wayne been out and it fell flat. The fashion week song isn’t really growing legs on radio. That could be his worst lead single to date. Maybe once I sit with it longer I’ll see it different. Glad the brother is in a good place mentally but I thought he was coming for that top spot but he seems to be ok with his position so good for him. 6/10

  • Cool review! Keen to give the album a proper run through!

  • Olusola Pumba Ayodeji

    you cant take it away from Ralph