In January, Wale became the first rapper to open a president’s State of the Union Address. Barack Obama took to the podium for his final SOTU speech as Commander-in-Chief after the D.C. rhymer delivered his hits “Chillin’,” “LoveHate Thing” and “White Shoes” at the White House viewing party (Jan. 12). At the end of his set, Wale also announced his fifth album Shine.
Two months later, Wale repped his native city once again as the headliner for the Events DC Presents Music showcase, hosted by the Washington DC Economic Partnership at the Historic Scoot Inn for Austin’s SXSW festival on Tuesday night (March 15). During his set, Folarin offered more details about his forthcoming project, teasing that it would arrive in a “couple of months.” He also debuted a new track called “Pretty Young Thing.”
“It’s a little bit more melody and shit ’cause I been on some, like, I don’t want to call nobody to do my hooks no more,” he tells Billboard after his performance. “I want to do it myself but just as an evolution as an artist.”
Wale admits that during the creative process, he’s penned material for another artist that may end up his own. “I’m also writing for other artists so sometimes I may sing a song I wrote for somebody and I’ll be like, ‘Eh I like it. It’s me.’ even if it may not be performance good,” he said without offering specific names.
He even nodded Lil Wayne for his dual talents. “Lil Wayne said something in an interview where he’s like, ‘Yo I want to be the best at everything.’ or like, ‘I want to be a great rapper but if I write a song, it may not be the best vocally but I wrote it and you’ll get what I’m saying.’,” he explained. “I’m conveying the emotion so that’s what I’m trying to do currently with this new shit.”
But don’t start calling Wale a rapper slash singer just yet. “I’m not trying to go full R&B or nothing like that,” he offers. “I just wanna make vibes.”
On the production side, the revealed that he is working with beatsmiths Nez and Rio, Diplo, Beat Billionaire and Metro Boomin’. He kept a tight lip on features, tough. “I just want to make sure the business is straight on those,” he said.
Beyond rap, Wale — who scored his second No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 with 2015’s The Album About Nothing — says he is serious about starting his own pro wrestling company. The long-time WWE stan (his favorites include Shawn Michaels, Rey Mysterio and CM Punk) says, “It’s a great business and I don’t know anybody with my point of view [who] has ever attempted to do it.”
Additional reporting by Robbie Zayas