Washington DC's rap scene has never really been represented on a national scale. Up until now, the only artists from the nation's capital that have managed to emerge (just a bit) include two acts from the mid-90s: Nonchalant and Questionmark Asylum. And as quickly as they made a hit song, they dissolved back into obscurity. Cue Wale: a 25-year-old DC rapper, who made noise in 2006 with his song "Dig Dug (Shake It)". Then in 2008, he had his biggest break into national consciousness with The Mixtape About Nothing; his Seinfeld-inspired tape pulled hip hop heads in. Now Wale has a platform to express himself while repping DC on an insanely large scale with his debut, Attention Deficient. It's a lot of pressure for a relatively new artist, and it shows sporadically throughout the album.
Wale starts off with "Triumph", the quintessential cut on every rappers album where they indulge their bragging skills. The production on the introductory track is a set-up for the rest of the album, which for the most part, has a cohesive musical backing, with all different producers. The horns on "Triumph" are powerful and sharply played as if welcoming a king, with a rumbling bassline underneath. But the lyrics are lacking: "It's me again/ shoot/ the movie of the year/ 'Cause you slum dog/ and I'm a millionaire." "Mirrors" featuring Bun B. is another track where the production is better than the bars. The bass guitar creates a sort of ominous melody, with a chorus of 'ooh's weaving in and out. Bun B does well on the track; riding it as if it was meant for him and his Texas twang. Wale holds it down, but is easily outshined by the hip hop vet. "Pretty Girls" is a disappointing track through and through. The hook is grating, and the lyrics aren't anything to be impressed by. Not even a feature from Gucci Mane, one of the more popular rappers out now, can save this track. "Let it Loose" featuring Pharell is better, but not by much. A party track, but the beat seems to be either too big or too small for Wale, either way, it doesn't fit. Wale doesn't manage to maintain the listeners' attention with snoozer lines like, "That Nuvo or that Goose'll have you losing your religion/ Amen/ They say you only live once/ So go to work for what you need/ I'ma give you what you want."
He does get better on tracks that deal with real situations that young people deal with. "90210" is one of those jewels, where Wale raps about a young lady who does everything (and anything) she can, to be a star, regardless of the physical or emotional dangers. "Shades" with Chrisette Michele is another great song, where Wale touches on his insecurities in his younger years as a dark-skinned boy dealing with colorism, "Immigrant parents had me feeling like a step kid/ And Black Americans never did accept me/ That's why I thrive so much winning respect, B/ I never fit in with them Light Skins/ I thought the lighter they was/ the better that they life is/ So I resented them and they resented me..." "Diary" featuring songstress Marsha Ambroius, is another one of the better songs on AD, where Wale speaks to the new girlfriend who'd been scorned by a past love and is currently putting her new one through the ringer.
There are go-go moments in certain spots of AD- of course, and that's okay- but Wale isn't afraid to show that he has other influences. His is the voice of DC, at least for right now, and he's come up with a solid album to help carry the momentum. His lyrics seem to need a bit more attention but overall Wale has released a debut that can stand on its own.