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The Great Debate: Did Wale Sell Out? Oh Hells YesPosted by Nathan S. on 12/23/11 | Filed under Best Of, Features, Wale, Best of 2011, The Great Debate
On December 31, 2010, Wale landed at Miami Dade international airport, stepped out into the crisp Florida air and climbed into an all-black Land Rover. From there he was driven directly to Miami’s legendary strip club, the King of Diamonds, instructed to pick up the black duffel bag at this feet and escorted to a private table where has was greeted with enormous open arms by Rick Ross. Ten hours, a duffel bag full of cash and more booty and Patron shots than he could possibly remember later, Wale and Ross sat down to a breakfast of lobster bisque. “Look,” rumbled Ross as he slid a SoundScan report over to Wale; his debut album "Attention Deficit" was highlighted with the album’s first week sales, a paltry 28,000, circled in red. “You can spend the rest of your life trying to please people who don’t really want to be pleased and won’t buy your album anyway, or you can sign to MMG, help give my label a little lyrical depth, and last night can be your every night.” On February 5, 2011, Wale announced that he was now a member of the Maybach Music Group.
Ok, so I completely made that up, but come on, we all know that’s basically what happened.
“Selling Out”, by any real definition, means willingly sacrificing artistic integrity and social benefit in the pursuit of cash and money, and by any measure Wale sold out when he joined the ranks of MMG. What, you think he signed to Maybach Music because of Rick Ross’ philanthropic efforts? Because he admired the artistic vision of a man who once rapped, “I’m thinking money – every minute thinkin money / I bust a nut, then I’m back to thinkin money”? Wale didn’t admire Ross’ art, he admired his "Ambition".
No, Wale is kicking it poolside with "Bad Girls" while Rick Ross and D Khaled chill in the living room because after Attention Deficit Wale stood at the crossroads. To his left he saw a career spent trying to please audience that were more like analysts than fans, touring the same college campuses he’s played the year before. To his right he saw everything that had alluded him so far: national radio play (look ma, No Hands), stadium shows, spots on MTV where he wasn’t just the house band. To the left he saw a Toyota Prius, to the right a Maybach. So the man took a sharp right turn – is there any wonder why?
The only real debate here is the degree to which Wale’s sold out, a debate that Wale’s willingly engaged in. Just take "600 Benz", a song he’s defended as being about much more than just nice cars: “The dilemma is, you think I got no conscience / You think I just here flossing?”
I hear you Wale, your point is both clear and concise, but allow me my rebuttal: Criticizing people for listening to 600 Benz and only focus only on your materialism is like filming a porn scene in a library, and getting mad at people for focusing on the sex instead of the books. Just say it Mr. Florian – you made a banger about driving a nice car and the drive to drive nice cars. No need for justifications. It’s a dope song.
That’s no isolated incident. "600 Benz", as opposed to say "Shades", is now Wale’s predominant mode, and I can’t blame him. I’d probably make the exact same decision. This isn’t about blame or criticism, it’s about honesty. So let’s just all be honest about the kind of music Wale’s making now; luxury rap with occasionally complex rhyme schemes. That doesn’t make him evil or even especially bad, it just makes him more like your average rapper; willing to sell if the price is right.