Author: Briana Ellison
On Friday, Washington, D.C., rapper Wale released his new single “Reminisce,” that features Phil Adé and was produced by DJ Camper.
The song is the lyrical and musical embodiment of a recurring dream sequence, evident in the delicate beat and the light, awe-like way Wale raps throughout the song. The instruments used sound appropriately reminiscent of traditional African instruments, an homage to his Nigerian roots. The homage is obvious in the way the beat repeats, never-changing, but never becoming a burden or bore either.
As his parents are of the Yoruba culture of their native country of Nigeria, Wale gives a nod to how his background and culture have helped him to stay grounded. He does so with a perfectly timed and smooth reference to Islam – a religion that many of the Yoruba culture ascribe to – through the phrase “Inshallah,” which translates to “If Allah wills it.” Wale also continuously refers to praying, showing his heart is with the worship aspect of his native culture.
Wale also pays homage to his hometown of the nation’s capital with the go-go infused backing beats and his lyrical flow containing multiple shout-outs. Go-go, along with many traditional African music, is heavy on the percussion, and so is “Reminisce,” with a beautiful drumbeat that carries the song but also allows Wale and guest Phil Adé to soar lyrically through a song that is strong and reflective.
“Reminisce” is the second single off Wale’s upcoming new album “Shine.” This single was preceded by the song “MY PYT,” which has been dominating the radio stations with its beat and lyrics evocative of Michael Jackson’s “PYT.” This new album is also the follow-up to 2015’s “The Album About Nothing,” a collaborative album with Jerry Seinfeld, from whose famous eponymous 1990s sitcom the album takes its name.
For me, the beauty of this song comes in the beat. As one who grew up in a house that featured both rock and go-go, the percussive beat of “Reminisce” is attention grabbing. I also love its simplicity. Wale didn’t try to outdo himself, and he didn’t gravitate toward the overbearing and loud dance beats that many rappers use to highlight their tracks. Additionally, Wale is one of the better lyrical rappers I’ve heard. While others allow their bars to be dependent on the track, Wale commands that the track follow his flow. His easy style of rapping is genuine, not overdone with trademark noises or laughs, missing the lyrics and references simply placed to garner one’s attention.
A decade into his career, Wale has made a famous name for himself, though without the heavy attention and notoriety that comes with other artists such as J. Cole, Big Sean, Kendrick Lamar and Drake. Since his breakout hit “Chillin” featuring Lady Gaga was released in 2009, it’s been a long wait for the D.C. rapper to gain the attention he deserves. Lyrically, he’s definitely an equal to Cole, Kendrick and Drake. Musically, he and Kendrick may be the better. While many rappers rely on quick, attention-catching hooks to draw in listeners, Wale is defiant and comfortable in repetitive beats that are go-go infused.
Wale is one of the most underrated rappers out there, though his albums have consistently charted high. “The Album About Nothing” was critically acclaimed, but besides charting Number 1 on the Billboard charts, it was basically ignored by the giants of the hip-hop community. Nonetheless, Wale has stayed in his lane, consistently making quality music that he’s insanely proud of. While the haters hate, some critics doubt he’ll ever reach the pinnacle of success, and a majority of the hip-hop community essentially ignores his presence, Wale plays up his strengths, knowing that the music he’s making has more depth than most of the club-only hip-hop hits out there.