Review: Wale – More About Nothing

Apologies for being late with this. I wrote it about a week ago and saved it to give it a final check before publishing, then just forgot. My bad.

If you haven’t got this yet then download it HERE (link courtesy of Nah Right)

Wale’s The Mixtape About Nothing was a breath of fresh air when it came out in 2008. Inspired by the Washington-based rapper’s love of Seinfield, most of the songs featured a sample from the show that would set up the song’s subject matter. The beats were heavily-influenced by the go-go sound of the DC area and used live instruments, giving the tape a distinctive sound, pulling it out of the ocean of bland most mixtapes swim in.

His flow was even more impressive. Most rappers rap over the beat, Wale seems to merge with it, his voice becoming another instrument in the mix. Don’t think he’s weak on the lyrics side of things either, he delivered cutting insight into the state of hip-hop, relationships, race relations and more. Lines from it still randomly swirl around my mind almost two years after I first heard them.

It’s a real shame his actual album, Attention Deficit, was nowhere near as good. It definitely wasn’t a bad album but after the promise his mixtapes hinted at it felt like a starter without a main course. His unique sound was largely absent and his music used to have substance, here he really was talking about nothing on some songs. There were a few great songs like “Shades” and “Diary”, while J. Cole drops by to add yet another dope verse to “Beautiful Bliss” but overall it was a huge disappointment.

More About Nothing is exactly what I wanted from Wale. As soon as the first song was over I knew he was back. He addresses the problems with the album early and then moves on. He’s rapping with a purpose again.

Most of the production on More About Nothing‘s predecessor was handled by Best Kept Secret. Wale has branched out for the sequel, which means it’s a little more disjointed but still manages to regain that distinctive sound. The Seinfield samples also return, again you don’t need to be a fan of the show to appreciate them.

The storytelling that was so prominent on TMAN returns on “The Eyes of the Tiger“, which documents Tiger Wood’s fall from grace from the viewpoint of the man himself. “The Friends N Strangers” explains how fame has changed things with his friends back home, then describes a relationship with an ex that didn’t go to plan. He’s got a talent for making listeners understand and relate to his own problems.

On “The Soup” and “The Guilty Pleasure” he spazzes out with furious flows and hard-hitting punchlines. Then he has songs like “The War”, which is about wanting to be with that one girl. It features Daniel Merriweather on the hook and his powerful vocals, along with Wale’s rhymes and the soothing instrumental make it one of the mixtape’s best tracks. He also experiments with some spoken word poetry with “The Ambitious Girl”. After listening to it any guy would want an ambitious girl like that.

Anyone who was let down by Attention Deficit needs to listen to More About Nothing, your faith in Wale will be restored. If you’ve never heard anything by him before then let this be an introduction. You’ll be back to hear more tales of nothing.

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22 Responses to Review: Wale – More About Nothing

  1. Aisha says:

    I think this mixtape is definitely better than his Attention Deficit album; I have to say I wasn’t crazy about half of the songs on that album, to mention actually, I only like Diary and Shades. I felt that the album in general was too crowded.

    But anyways the More About Nothing mixtape sealed the deal for me. It’s like Wale kept giving and giving after every song and by the end of it, I wanted to listen to every song again. I like how he incorporated poetry into about half of his songs, my favourite will have to be The War. I felt like a character in that song-story and like you said, he describes emotions so flawlessly that I understood and related to the message he was portraying. When an artist is able to influence you to watch a show through his songs, then you know something’s about to go down; has got me watching Seinfield.

    Amazing blog by the way.

  2. stickmandan says:

    The album put me off Wale for a while, I was so hyped for it and then it came and well, it kinda sucked. Then this came along and all was right again. I agree with the poetry, I’d like to hear him do some more of it. It’s a refreshing change from traditional hip hop.

    He’s able to let the barriers down and really talk about his feelings, not many rappers can do that. I think that’s the key to his ability to make his own specific problems feel universal.

    Thank you, I really do appreciate it.

    • Aisha says:

      Yea I reckon poetry will serve him well. Are you doing reviews on other mixtapes? I’ve been downloading some lately, they’re not new but I think they’re worth mentioning:
      Asher Roth- Seared Foie Gras W/ Quince & Cranberry
      Janelle Monae- ArchAndroid
      Cee-Lo- Stray Bullets
      Sway- The Delivery

  3. stickmandan says:

    I definitely plan on doing more reviews but it’s gonna have to wait a while, got exams and stuff coming up so I’m just doing shorter posts for a bit.

    I’ll give you my thoughts on those you mentioned though:

    Asher Roth – Incredibly underrated as a rapper, his skills have developed so much since his first album. I thought rapping over some truly classic beats was a brave choice but he pulled it off.

    Janelle Monae – So much talent. The ArchAndroid’s one of the best albums to come out this year, it’s a real shame she doesn’t seem to get the commercial success her work warrants.

    Cee-Lo – I haven’t heard this one actually, I’m a big Cee-Lo fan so will definitely check it out. I posted an awesome song from his next album yesterday, make sure you listen to it if you haven’t yet.

    Sway – If you’re a Sway fan listen to his early stuff: This is My Promo volumes 1 and 2, This is My Demo and The Dotted Lines Mixtape. Since he signed with Akon’s Konvict Music his sound has changed for the worse in my opinion, although there were a few quality songs on The Delivery Mixtape especially The King Full Stop and Skool Woz Kool. His early material is some of the best hip hop the UK’s ever produced.

  4. Aisha says:

    That’s so true, I think underrated is the right word to describe Asher Roth. His rhythm is flawless. I’m gonna be one of those people that include Eminem in the same sentence as Mr. Roth cos the other day, I was arguing with my brother about the similarities between them. He thinks they sound alike but I really don’t hear the similarity to be honest. I think Asher raps with more flow, as in it’s more freestyle-ey and Eminem’s raps with the beats. Best song from that mixtape has to be I’m Eddy. I think i’ve got a thing for songs that tell stories and talk about stories.

    I think Janelle’s getting more recognition now. I remember watching her videos like 2 years ago. They were mostly of her performing and now she’s everywhere in America. It’s amazing how such a big powerful voice can come out from someone so little. And she reminds me a bit of a female Dre 3000; her energy on stage.

    Yea I heard Cee-lo’s song, I’m actually looking forward to his next album. The Stray Bullets mixtape is ok, nothing special. It sounded too clubby/dancey for me.

    And Mr. DeSafo, he’s come a long way but sheds a little bit of himself as he goes along. I think it’s a pretty common thing though as people get more recognised, they start to change their sounds a little bit for example; Chipmunk, Tinnie Tempah, Plan B. I suppose that’s a good and bad thing but sometimes people want to hear what they first fell in love with. His early stuff back in the day was like musical gold.

    And I forgot to add in relation to Wale’s poetry, you should listen to Malik Yusef. The guy is impeccable.

    • stickmandan says:

      I think the only reason people group them together is because they’re both white rappers. It’s sad and very close-minded. There’s a song on Asher’s album called As I Em where he addresses the issue. Musically comparing the two of them is like comparing Kid Cudi and Nas – they’re both in completely different lanes.

      My pick from the mixtape has gotta be Toni Braxton, not for the substance but because he’s rhyming over GZA’s Liquid Swords, one of my favourite beats of all time. I went from “what are you thinking?” to “damn, this is dope”. As you say, his rhythm is flawless.

      Janelle Monae reminds me of Lauryn Hill, which is pretty much the highest praise I can give her. 3K is my favourite artist of all time, in my eyes no one’s even in the same league as him. My friends think I’m a little bit obsessed haha, I have to see him live at some point.

      A lot of artists come to a point where they have to choose between the integrity of their art or commercial success. I think most of those you mention chose commercial success. I sort of disagree with Plan B though, while he’s definitely way more successful than he ever was a rapper, he’s always incorporated singing and his guitar playing into his music. It’s not like he’s suddenly done something completely different. I would like to see him go back to rapping in the future though.

      The name Malik Yusef rings a bell, I think I’ve heard some stuff he did with Kanye. I’ll check him out though, thanks.

      I love story-telling songs as well. Like a good film, they’re captivating when done properly. Here’s some of my favourites:

      2pac – Brenda’s Got A Baby
      Common – Testify, I Used To Love H.E.R
      Lupe Fiasco – He Gets The Girl, Little Weapon
      Nas – Rewind
      Immortal Techinque – Dance with the Devil, You Never Know (both fucked up)
      Jay-Z – Meet the Parents
      No doubt you will have heard this, but it’s perfect, Eminem – Stan

  5. Aisha says:

    But with Plan B’s old stuff, his rapping was more dominant probably 80% of rapping would be in 1 song but now it’s almost 50 50 rapping and singing. I’m still a fan though to be honest.

    Before I forget, I’m still waiting for something from The Streets, Mike Skinner’s like the ultimate story-teller, dunno if you’re a fan but listen to Could Well Be In and Blinded By The Lights, it’s feels like you’re actually witnessing the scene! I still find that amazing.

    3K’s crap.
    Jokes! Don’t even get me started about him. Recently I went Amazon crazy and bought Stankonia, Idlewild and Speakerboxxx/Lovebelow. I almost forgot how much I loved 3K. Another underrated artist. I think his talent shows more in Stankonia. I’m still yet to buy Aquemini and ATLiens. Apparently they’ve got a new album coming out soon. Excitement isn’t the right word but it’s the first word that comes to mind.

    I think Kanye produced 2 of Malik’s albums. I first heard The Return (She Comes Again) ft Mr. Hudson and then I was hooked. He uses metaphors like there’s no tomorrow, yeaaa he’s pretty underrated as well.

    I’ve probably only listened to 20% of the songs from the list you just wrote, I’m officially musically uneducated. Lupe’s Little Weapon. Wow. He’s one of those artists that actually makes us exercise our brains while listening to him. I haven’t heard that 2pac song, but I’ve never really acknowledged his music considering he’s one of music’s legends. If Common happened to be Hitler’s sidekick, I think I’d still be a huge fan of him. I’ve got nothing but respect for his music. Immortal Technique. I’ve come to a conclusion that the guy has fully lived life and seen stuff that people haven’t. Dance With the Devil is the one where the guy fucks his mum isn’t it? Twisted like Twister. I’m actually scared to listen to his whole album incase he drops a bomb like santa doesn’t exist or something like that.
    Eminem’s Stan was like my anthem back in the day, I can rap everything but I get to the last verse and I just stumble. It will happen one day. Check out Kanye’s Bittersweet poetry as well!
    Tempz Next Hype- perfect storytelling/narrating.
    Thanks for the list, I’ll deffo check those songs out.

  6. Aisha says:

    Wale’s Family Affair FTW as well!

    • stickmandan says:

      Big Streets fan, Mike Skinner’s hypnotising. He’s not even really rapping, just talking but you can’t stop listening to his words. Dude’s got skills. He produces most of his own stuff as well.

      You’re a 3000 fan, that makes you a person of incredible taste. Most people have a mental image of Dre as the guy who made Hey Ya, they can’t even imagine him being the sickest rapper around. Good move with Amazon, definitely get ATLiens and Aquemini though, whatever one I’ve heard most recently becomes my favourite Outkast album. Big Boi’s solo album earlier this year was great as well. Real shame he couldn’t get 3000 on because of record label bullshit, that would have been perfect.

      Quick YouTube search for Malik Yusef and I heard a song called Promised Land with Kanye and Adam Levine from Maroon 5. Breathtaking.

      One of the reasons I started this was to share good music. Yeah that’s the Immortal Technique song you’re thinking of. Messed up but a deep song. Sometimes I rap along to Eminem in my head, if I keep up I feel like a total badass. Haha I never thought of Next Hype as one of these story songs but I guess you’re right. I can’t really listen to it though, I always get a serious urge to smash shit when I do.

  7. Aisha says:

    Ok I’m gonna be perfectly honest now. What do producers actually do? I know it’s quite an important aspect of songs and albums and stuff but why is it important? When I got proper Mike Skinner crazy was when I watched Kidulthood. The soundtrack for that was immense! Actually I think that’s when I started getting into grime as a whole. It’s just so expressive. Lol I think Next Hype has got the same effect on everyone, I just wanna jump around and act really angry. Have you heard JME’s Jujuman? The guy’s a joker.

    I need to get Big Boi’s album as well but I’ve really tried to get into his rapping and stuff but it’s just blah like on the Speakerboxxx album, I dunno why but I was expecting something better. Mos Def is one of those artists that I don’t get as well. I know he does good music but I just don’t understand what I’m supposed to be listening. I think they fact that I watched Be Kind, Rewind really didn’t help anything. Has to be one one the most disastrous movies I’ve ever watched.

    I’m was looking through your blog (stalker alert) and I see that Lupe’s in a band. Like WHAT?! Since when? I’m listening to some of the song now and they’re actually really good. Yay for new music!

    Have you got Spotify? Listen to Malik on there cos Utube has got his stuff scattered everywhere but on Spotify it’s on in one place. I like how I’m practically forcing you to listen to him haha.

    Lastly. Mr Hudson. I think his style’s changing gradually. You probably already know this but he was in a band called The Library so they called themselves Mr Hudson & The Library (well original) and their songs were one of the best I’ve ever heard. They were folk + pop + something else that I don’t even know about. Basically their album was one of the good ones. And then Mr Hudson goes solo with his Straight No Chaser album but The Library still play a part in most of his songs and as you know Kanye plays a bigger part in that album. It felt like Kanye was making Hudson’s songs sound like his but the rest of the songs in that album sounded like the old Mr Hudson. Songs like Central Park and Instant Messenger. Actually all the songs apart from Supernova and Anyone But Him (3rd best song in the album). Just thought I’d rant about that. Oh and I’m buzzing for Kanye’s new album! Some of the songs he performed at the Facebook HQ (as you do) sounds like his stuff from College Dropout and Late Registration. That’s ALWAYS a good thing!

  8. Aisha says:

    Louis Logic does god story telling/dialogues as well tells good stories as well listen to Coochie Coup, Best Friends and/or Classy McNasty. He’s the combination of hip hop, flow and rhymes.
    And and and check out P.O.S.- Never Better

    • stickmandan says:

      Producers bring the music together really, the singer/rapper does the vocals but the producer creates the beat and does the mixing and all that clever stuff (I think).

      I’m not really into grime, I hear a lot because I live in East London and my brother and friends like it but it’s never grown on me. There’s a few artists I listen to like Kano, Sway and Akala but I don’t look out for new grime much. One thing I’ve never got is how Giggs got so big. He sounds HORRIBLE, like he needs someone to get him some cough sweets asap.

      I think Big Boi’s sick, he doesn’t really have deep lyrics but he puts words together that flow so well. I thought Speakerboxxx was a better album than The Love Below, even though I heart 3000. It was solid from start to finish, Love Below had moments of absolute genius but I really just want him to stop singing and show everyone why he’s the greatest rapper whenever I listen to it again. Saying that the last song, A Day in the Life of Benjamin Andre, is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard. It’s another story song actually, he just starts spitting and doesn’t stop, it’s incredible.

      I’m a Mos Def stan. Black on Both Sides is one of the best debut albums I’ve heard, in any genre. He’s all about the lyrics, listen to his song Mathematics, hopefully it will change your mind. I’ve never seen Be Kind Rewind, I tend to stay away from Jack Black films (apart from School of Rock, which actually did rock).

      Yeah I love Spotify, amazing invention. I’ll check him there when I get a chance.

      haha I’ve not heard of his band, sounds good though. I went through a stage where I couldn’t stand Hudson, mainly because my flatmate played Supernova again and again and again but I’m over that now and will look for that early stuff. I’m so happy Kanye West is in the world, he never fails to entertain me. His twitter account is like the best thing on the internet. I think his next album will be the best thing released this year, he just seems to be in the zone right now. I definitely got that College Dropout vibe from the song he did with Beyonce. He said on twitter he’s gonna release a new song every Friday up until xmas. EPIC!

      Have you ever thought about starting a blog yourself? Clearly you know a lot about music, seem really passionate about it and have a nice writing style. They’re pretty simple to start up as well.

      • stickmandan says:

        I’ll listen to those songs you mentioned as well, also can’t believe I’ve forgotten this, but Joe Budden – Pray for Me. You need to listen to it.

  9. Aisha says:

    What a frigging coincidence that me and my brothers were talking about Giggs sounding like he’s trying to clear his throat or like he’s trying to force one out. I swear he just mumbles and they put some beats to make it sound even better. If you’re not a big fan of grime, just listen to the obvious artists like Bashy and the king of grime; Wiley. Akala’s Bit by Bit is a tune! I remember when I couldn’t get what he was saying cos I thought he was going too fast but I think the more I listen to him, the more my brain catches up.

    I think I’m way too lazy to have a blog cos new music comes like all the time and I’m not one to keep up.

    I don’t care what anyone says but Kanye is a supreme being. I like that he’s cocky about his work and he ends up delivering even better than what he’s boasted about. I heard he got like 600,000 followers as soon as he jumped on twitter, that’s crazy! Imma let you finish but College Dropout was one of the best albums of all time! So is he releasing a new song from his new album every friday? That’s a lot of songs! Do you think they’ll be on his blog? I deleted my facebook less than 24 hours after I got it cos I really didn’t like it, there was just nothing to it and it felt as crowded as the Oxford Circus underground.

  10. Aisha says:

    And oh my god! How could we forget the best storyteller of all time! R Kelly! He went to far after TITC 5 though. Have you seen Aziz Ansari’s interview where he was talking about him? That was actually hilarious!

  11. Aisha says:

    And one more thing, why the hell did Dre not complete A Day in the Life of Benjamin Andre?! Do you think he forgot about it? My iPod was on shuffle when I heard it for the first time and I was thinking I who’s this amazing rapper? I didn’t think I had this on here and the I saw it was Dre and I had to start listening to it again. It changes everything. He’s so deep in this song. The clapping in the background and the sinister beats just makes it more wow!

    • stickmandan says:

      I only post what I like or what I’m listening to at the minute, there’s waaaaaaay too much to cover all of it.

      I was on a long train journey yesterday and listened to the whole of 808s & Heartbreaks. I hated it when I first heard it, why was he singing in autotune about heartbreak?! Seriously, that album was ahead of its time. It opened the door to artists like Cudi and Drake, Drake spent most of his album singing about love and heartbreak. Like a year after it came out I went back to it and realised I was so wrong. The production is flawless and it’s just amazing. Kanye’s a genius. 4 amazing albums out of 4.

      I spend way too long on facebook doing nothing, my life would be so much more productive without it but I can’t bring myself to get rid of it. How else will I know what people I’d never talk to in reality are having for dinner? This stuff is vital!

      haha yeah I’ve seen that interview, it’s so jokes, there’s another sick one where he talks about a night out with Kanye and Jay-Z as well. I’ve never actually listened to all of TITC, isn’t there like 15 parts to it?

      Whenever I hear that song I just want him to keep going forever and ever. His flow is ridiculous, it’s just one mind blowing verse. I hope when he finally releases a solo album he does a part 2 saying what he’s done since he released The Love Below, he drops like 2 verses a year. We need more!

  12. Aisha says:

    I totally just listen to Jay Z’s Meet the Parents and he’s actually siiiick! He has to be up there with my favourite people. Ok question for you; who do you prefer, Jay, Joe Budden or Nas?

    Speaking of 808s&Heartbreaks, before I even listened to any of the songs, I heard that they were all autotuned and I was already dreading it but it’s Kanye, everything he does is unflawed (yes even the whole Taylor Swift thing, I’ve got his back there) and the actually album exceeded my expectations. I liked how he didn’t let the whole autotune thing to overshadow his actually talent. Fave songs from the album has to be Streetlights and the Welcome to Heartbreak. Oh I meant I deleted my Twitter no my Facebook. Gosh can you imagine life without it? How would I know my ‘friends’ birthdays? Times would be hard!

    OMG! Check out Kid Cudi and Asher Roth’s freestyle on Youtube. First time I listened to it, I was speechless. They should do something together actually, I’ve got Ash on speed dial so you never know. Seriously though he’s actually kind of a big deal in this but Cudi’s freestyle was more consistent throughout the whole time and Ash stumbled a couple of times but I suppose it can’t always be perfect when it’s freestyle.

    Yeaaaa you should definitely do a storytelling post!

  13. stickmandan says:

    You know Jay never writes out his lyrics? He just goes in the studio and makes it up on the spot. How the hell is it even possible to make a song like that off the top of your head?! Joe Budden’s out of the equation instantly. Lyrically he’s a beast but I can’t listen to him for long. I don’t think the guy’s ever smiled. Out of Jay and Nas I’d pick Nas. Until I listened to Outkast’s old stuff and discovered 3000, Nas was my favourite rapper. Whenever I listen to Illmatic I’m amazed he could create something so brilliant at 18. Jay-Z’s reached a level no rapper’s ever done before. He transcends hip hop now. What other rapper could headline Glastonbury?

    With the Taylor Swift thing, the man did have a point. Beyonce’s video FTW. Still, could have kept it to himself though I guess. Every time I see it his little shrug when he passes the mic back to her cracks me up.

    Really impressive shit. Their sounds would go well together I think. It’s good to see an actual freestyle instead of them just reciting lines they’ve prepared. That is lame. My favourite song right now is Mr Rager by Cudi. Can’t wait for his next album.

  14. Pingback: Video: Wale – “The Break Up Song” | Audio Bombs

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