The Gifted, the third album from D.C. rapper Wale, is good. I had the chance to listen to his previous studio efforts before diving headfirst. Attention Deficit and Ambition played on my iPhone days before I was able to download his third effort, The Gifted. Wale is a very gifted wordsmith and rapper, combining his knowledge with his love of music. His songs deal with mature subject material while other songs from his, his ‘club hits’ for example, aren’t dumbed down to be enjoyed. It’s something that is carried over onto his third album, which is a bigger improvement of Ambition.
If you listen to Attention Deficit and then jump right into The Gifted, you notice that Wale has matured lyrically. His poetic breakdowns feel more fluid and are a joy to listen to. Reminds when I would catch Def Poetry Jam late at night. He opens the album with a “look at me now” song describing his coming up from Georgetown to where he is now. He tells us that he’s still grounded and real and hasn’t forgotten where he’s come from.
The album isn’t just about him bragging about what he has now, it’s about toxic, love-hate relationships. LoveHate Thing is the perfect example of the latter as well as the single, Bad. In addition to Bad, included is a remix featuring Rihanna with an all-new beat and verse to back up the effort. It could an original song in its own right but it works perfectly fine as a remix. I personally prefer the original.
An album is only as strong as it’s weakest track and here the weakest track is Clappers. The song has been getting some praise, however, I feel like it’s out of place: it precedes the Bad remix and, to me, doesn’t sit well with me. Also, the tracklisting is a tad weird. The original Bad appears last in the set list and doesn’t necessarily close out the album the way the preceding track does. Black Heroes/Outro About Nothing closes the album and sets up a future project with Jerry Seinfeld. Then Bad plays and it feels as though the album is slumming to fit in a set number of songs. It wouldn’t have been a problem if the song was listed as a bonus track.
The album contains sixteen tracks and plays for about an hour and features guest appearances from Juicy J, Meek Mills, Cee Lo, Nicky Minaj, Ne-Yo, Wiz Khalifa, Two Chains and Jerry Seinfeld. The album would be a much better with a bit of tweaking with the tracklist and the exclusion of Clappers, The Gifted could have gone from great to terrific.