ALBUM REVIEW: Wale – Attention Deficit


Three years and five mixtapes into his career, Wale‘s debut album, Attention Deficit isn’t offered as an introduction to Olubowale ‘Wale’ Folarin – instead, it seems to be announcing that he’s always been here and you’ve only just caught up.

Named one of XXL Magazine’s Hip Hop Freshmen of ’09, Wale’s over-confidence in his position as a leader in contemporary Hip Hop’s new movement isn’t baseless. “I asked Mr West for a little bit of help…” Wale raps on the energetic opening track, “Triumph”. Of course, Kanye West isn’t the only musical powerhouse behind Wale; he is in company with Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams and label-boss Mark Ronson. However, on “Triumph” and closing cut “Prescription,” Wale seeks respect from his audience based off of his own merit.

Throughout the rest of the album, Wale is seemingly content with showcasing his talent as part of a joint effort. With artists featured alongside him on ten out of the thirteen tracks and production from The Neptunes, DJ Green Lantern, 9th Wonder and Mark Ronson, Attention Deficit can feel somewhat like Wale is presenting a record of duets – but fortunately most of the collaborations work very well.

Some of the strongest features are Marsha Ambrosius‘ beautiful vocals that add emotive colour to Wale’s tale of relationship woes on “Diary”, Melanie Fiona and J. Cole on “Beautiful Bliss” and “TV In The Radio” featuring K’naan. Other pairings brought little to the record; Gucci Mane‘s addition to “Pretty Girls” – a track that was leaked online sans his guest verse a while ago – actually detracts from the song.

Lyrically, Wale skirts effortlessly between frivolous subject-matter (“Chillin”, “Pretty Girls”, “Let It Loose”) and deeper issues including faux-celebrity lifestyle on “90210” and inter-black prejudice on “Shades”. Set against a diverse musical backdrop (aside from The Neptunes and Ronson productions which are instantly recognisable) spanning soul, funk, DC Go-Go beats, Wale succeeds in re-affirming his arrival with Attention Deficit.

Attention Deficit is out November 10th (Allido/Interscope).

Tahirah Edwards Byfield