A few years back, all eye were on three rappers on the come-up to unite their lyrical rap skills as the force that would lead us into the Holy Land of the new school rap era. As you may have guessed, these leaders were J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, and Wale.

2013 was a breakout year for these three rappers.

Kendrick was just off the success of his second studio album, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, with songs like “Poetic Justice” and “B*tch Don’t Kill My Vibe” still generating plenty of buzz. At the start of the year, J. Cole dropped his album, Born Sinner and hit the road on the “What Dreams May Come Tour,” which just so happened to feature Wale.

At the time, Wale was on fire, his 2013 album, The Gifted, debuted at No. 1, with his hit song, “Bad” featuring singer Tiara Thomas, that was later remixed by Rihanna. Still, with all of this success, many would argue whether 2013 was the same year that K. Dot and J. Cole’s talent began to eclipse Wale’s, with both artists currently peaking at the top of the rap game and Wale… well, not so much.Image result for wale shine albumTo his credit, Wale had experienced a series of setbacks during his time in the limelight.

Back in 2008, Wale signed a deal with Interscope Records for what was reported to be valued at $1.3 million. Still, I’m sure no money in the world could prepare him for the upset that was just around the corner after the label decided to make “Chillin,” Wale’s first single off of his debut album, Attention Deficit. Unfortunately for him, and Interscope, this song “flopped,” leading to low album sales and him eventually being dropped from the label.

Fast forward to now, and we see that not much has changed.

Wale’s fifth studio album dropped late April and with the combination of a surprise early release date, minimal promotion, and lackluster single performance, Shine, was yet another one of Wale’s bodies of work to be declared a “flop,” earning him a mere 28,000 equivalent album units.

On Monday’s episode of Complex’s Everyday Struggle, Wale and DJ Akademiks exchanged their opposing views surrounding the album’s disappointing numbers and Wale deflected by mentioning the performance of his Shine tour dates, stating that he has “sold out shows” in both LA and Atlanta. In the same breath, Wale tiptoed around the act of calling out his label, Atlantic Records, for not providing him with the proper support to successfully launch Shine, saying, “I didn’t create enough awareness like I should have…. I put it on me, I don’t put it on Atlantic,” and that he didn’t want to “point fingers.”

Well, Wale, someone needs to start pointing something.


Now, if you were once deemed as one of hip-hop’s rising stars only to be thrown in the flames of bad record deals, bad press, and bad album sales, you would have a chip on your shoulder too, right?

To this point, I would like to refer to the words of the great songstress, Erykah Badu, “I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my sh**.”

You see, in all the interviews and articles I’ve studied about Wale, there is one common theme that ties everything together, Wale’s hypersensitivity. The guy is an artist and his passion can sometimes come across as arrogance and being thin-skinned. He feels overlooked and underappreciated, and every chance he gets to express that, he will.

People have found the red button to press when seeking to ignite Wale’s indignation: his art. Because of this, commentators, radio hosts, and blogs have made it their goal to send subliminal shots aimed to press these buttons, get a rise out of him, and simultaneously taint Wale’s image.

Wale, you’ve given us the music, but for some reason, it’s just not connecting with your fans or “the culture” for that matter. The general public has an impression of you to be defensive and sensitive, and the two have lead in the overall consensus of you being “corny,” which transcends your music. This isn’t my personal view, but as a student of the game, it’s what I’ve observed. And the sooner you come to peace with this reality, the sooner you can collect all the information you’ve been presented and strategize on your next plan of attack.

Go away for a while. Spend some time with your new daughter (who is adorable by the way), maybe work on a sneaker collab, start a college tour with speaking arrangements, stay the heck off social media, and regroup. As J.Cole mentioned in his song, “False Prophets,” you’ve got a “… platform to make a classic rap song/To change a n*gga’s life, but you too anxious livin’ life/Always worried ’bout the critics who ain’t ever did it.”

Get back to the drawing board; we are rooting for you, Folarin. photos great global emotional grind GIF

Before you go: Let me know your thought on the Wale’s music career. Are you a supporter? Think he’s a non-factor at this point or can he rebrand and redeem himself? Sound off in the comments below, I’d love to hear!

Peace, peace, peace,

Aley Arion 

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Posted by:aleyarion

when i first set out to create my blog, i just wanted an outlet to balance my mundane college schedule. but over the years, it has become so much more. writing is how i process my world & the events that take place within it. through aleyarion.com, i seek to help my fellow 20-somethings, like me, working to find light when their paths seem darkened and learn from my mistakes so i can save you the trouble of repeating them. aleyarion.com is witty, vulnerable, and transparent, but most importantly, it's me, unapologetically. peace, peace, peace Aley Arion business inquiries: aleyarion@gmail.com

5 replies on “Why is Wale “Corny”? – Connecting the Lines of the Disconnect

  1. I sympathise with Wale to an extent, yeah he should learn to be more thick skinned, especially with the industry he’s in, but his knack for speaking on reviews is also not a bad thing. For instance, that YouTube guy Needle drop made an outlandish comment about him appropriating afro beats. I understand why he’d hit back at critiques such as that, because unfortunately some of these ‘critics’ leave an impression on people and shape their perception of music a lot, which is frustrating for any artist period, especially when someone picks apart the art you’ve been working on for a year or so, only to listen to it for less than a week and tell you what’s wrong with YOUR art. I actually think Shine is really good, but people won’t allow themselves to separate wale the person from wale the rapper. It’s ok to have an opinion and be subjective, but then have an opinion and make it come across as objective is unfair, especially when his ‘corniness’ doesn’t transcend to his music, at all.

    1. hey Niyi (cool name btw), thanks for your notes here! i feel you, as an artist, he has every right to share his point of view on the feedback that he receives from the public, just as much as the public has their right to provide it. i had no idea about the Afrobeats comments, that’s completely outlandish since Wale’s Nigerian smh but I watched the video and that’s exactly what I meant about these platforms knowing what buttons to press w/ him. the comments from Needle Drop were pretty cruel in my opinion, he lowkey wrote the entire album off which i don’t think is fair. i didn’t necessarily think that the whole album was perfect, but there were def good songs on it. still, my point is that Wale may need to take all the criticism that he’s received from Shine, (which has been a lot lol) and find a way to get reconnected to his fans & the culture because there’s def a disconnect here.

  2. I feel bad for Wale. I like this article because you sourced the year that everything was happening for him which was ’13. Ambition, The Gifted, everything had been going well.

    Wale has marketing issues unfortunately. Hip hop and rap are massive money generators for many types of people even outside of music. I think Wale is stuck between Drake and Cole, whereas Kendrick and Sean have been able to create separate identities.

    Hip hop consumers and hip hop fans are two different things and I think that’s the thing that has hurt artists like Wale. The person who goes out and buys an album or downloads music on iTunes, who streams is not necessarily the same as someone who consumes music online for free all the time.

    I agree with you that Wale needs to take a break and re-assess. I think that Seinfeld album alienated him from his core fanbase.

    1. hey girl! thanks so much for your notes!! i’m so glad you enjoyed the post!

      i totally agree, there is def work to be done with his marketing, but I was so happy to see that he took my advice (lol) and has gone into some new ventures with commercials and doing voice overs for this thing called “StockX”.

      Loved your point about hip hop consumers vs. fans, cause they’re def not one in the same. but hopefully he can find the silver lining between the two like Kendrick, Drake, and Big Sean have done so masterfully.

      great points, love!!

      also, would you mind letting me know how you found my blog? (just doing a little research) 🙂


  3. I agree with you that Wale needs to take a break and re-assess. I actually think Shine is really good, but people won’t allow themselves to separate wale the person from wale the rapper.

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