Rapper Wale has seen some career highs as well as lows. As with any artist, a walk in the entertainment industry comes with various vicissitudes from hit singles and albums to label shake-ups and potential releases from their deals. Wale has seen them all and remains active, yet may not be as successful as his counterparts. According to the rapper, he may have an answer as to why.
Having being signed to Atlantic, Interscope, and Rick Ross’s Maybach Music Group, Wale has released a total of 6 studio albums and 2 EPs. Two of his albums have achieved Gold status with the RIAA, and have birthed a few platinum and multi-platinum certified singles. His latest hit was 2019’s “On Chill” featuring supporting vocals from R&B singer Jeremih on the hook.
Wale’s talent has never been in question as his fans view his to be extremely gifted. However, it is to be noted that in many Hip-Hop conversations, the rapper has seemed to be overlooked. The D.C. native, real name Olubowale Victor Akintimehin, has been vocal on his disdain for this, which have birthed conversations in the media debating whether or not Wale is deserving to be mentioned or lauded as one of the greats in the genre.
His outspokenness as to why he’s not on top has turned some fans off from the rapper, with some feeling that he complains too much. The rapper became enraged in 2013 when he felt as though his then album The Gifted was not receiving the respect it deserved after Complex did not include it in their end-of-year list. Seemingly taking it personal, he called the publication with threats.
Comedian and actress Amanda Seales also got into an unfortunate and unexpected battle with Wale over a tweet, which he took offense to. The two ended up in a Twitter spat for some time, bringing Seales to recall the incident while on an appearance on the Desus and Mero show, claiming that the rapper “got in her face” while they both happened to be at the Roots Picnic in 2012.
“He tried to fight me over a tweet. My man at the time literally appeared and like flew over people, picked [Wale] by the side of his neck and pulled him to the side,” said Seales to the hosts, as reported by Hip-Hop Lately.
Wale’s behavior seemingly both in front of and behind the scenes has affected his ability to grow, as well as his apparent dependency on approval from critics. Soon his counterparts would begin to address it, one being J. Cole in his 2016 single “False Prophets.”
The rapper, however, sings a different tune as to why he believes he’s not respected as much. The “Sue Me” rapper held a Twitter Q&A, allowing fans to ask all of their burning questions, and one fan asked him if perhaps his passion caused his career to be stagnant. “Do you think your expressive passion for music hurt/[prevented] you from being mentioned with the rest in your class?” they asked.
Do you think your expressive passion for the music hurt/prevent you from being mentioned with the rest in your class? @Wale— Mayneo…. (@Realeec) May 3, 2018
The fan’s question drew an interesting response from the rapper, who agreed, but also shared that colorism played a role as well. “It hurt me greatly,” wrote Wale. “Also, me being dark skinned (not half white) rapper, direct descent from Africa did too. But let’s not go there.”
The rapper could very well be referring to other artists such as J. Cole, Logic, Drake, and others who fall under that category. But one would be remiss to forget artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Meek Mill, Kanye West, Jay-Z, or even historically The Notorious B.I.G., Big Daddy Kane, and others who are darker skin and have seen massive success. Social media users were to quick to remind Wale of that information as well.
In all honesty though I do believe Wale should get more shine. Him and Big KRIT deserve more accolades but I don’t believe colorism is the culprit.— Derrick Matthews (@DnyceTheGenius) May 4, 2018
A fan wrote in response to the rapper, “There have been/are plenty artists that are your color that have killed. I think you complaining about everything plays a role in your lack of spins, streams, etc. You’re dope, but people are seemingly not listening to you because of your complaints about them not listening to you.”
Another wrote, “You not being in the position you want to be in the rap game has nothing to do with your skin color… There has and still [are many] successful darkskin rappers. It can just be your personality tbh and not everyone has longevity”
Soon after his response went viral on social media, Wale appeared on The Breakfast Club where he attempted to explain his reasons as to why colorism may or may not have affected his success. “Racial ambiguity helps in anything. That’s just what it is, probably except for sports,” the rapper stated. “Racial ambiguity helps at some level. Even in acting. You can play Italian, Greek, this, that. If you’re Black you’re just Black, Jamaican, African, maybe.”
He continued, “Racial ambiguity just helps. It could be for a lot of reasons. ‘Hey I’m Middle Eastern with curly hair and when I cut it I look like Drake so I can relate.’ ‘I’m biracial I look like this guy or whatever.’ ‘I’m white, I relate to some of him and what he’s saying.’ I didn’t mean it like the world is racist. I’m just saying like racial ambiguity helps a lot. It’s a benefit, I think.”
Check out his Breakfast Club interview below. If you are (or aren’t) a Wale fan, what are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree?