Music Reviews


(MMG/Atlantic) Rating - 5/10

Wale is an interesting artist. When I say this, however, I mean it much more so in the sense of his shortcomings than of his talents. That may sound a bit harsh, but looking back at Wale’s career as a rapper thus far, it is difficult to give much acclaim to his victories rather than notice where he has continuously fallen short. Said falls have mainly come in the form of his inability to make the transition from mixtapes to full albums, and what seems to be a lack of the desire to create something truly original. Unfortunately, SHINE, Wale’s newest studio album, does little to make this bad situation much better.

The classic Wale dilemma is that his mixtapes come out decent, but the albums that follow them are very lacking. This isn’t necessarily the case in this day and age for Wale, as I am not sure I’m willing to give his mixtapes a great deal of credit. However, SHINE certainly does fall flat and there are several reasons for this, but I will focus on two of them. First and foremost, Wale’s lyricism on SHINE has a very weak turnout. From the album’s single and second track, here are some bars off of Running Back:

I get the money stacked
See the moon’s where it’s sunny at
And I move where the realest be
And the quickest, see baby, you getting’ lapped
Yeah, the DMV on the map
That’s a city, two states if you can count
I’m as real as I say, I never lie
So whenever I go, know I’m runnin’ back

Okay, so there’s a sprinkle of word play in there, a lead into the hook, alright. But there is no real substance. Yes, this is just a snippet taken from one track, but the fact of the matter is that this can be done with almost every track on SHINE. Wale is not a terrible lyricist; I’m quite sure he could outrap Kodak Black any day of the week. However, he still leaves a very stale flavor in the listener’s mouth with every passing track. 

The second biggest issue is originality. This can partially be attributed to the lyrics, but additionally there is a lack of uniqueness in the overall concepts and sonics of the project. From the generic themes of Fashion Week (not to mention the terrible decision to feature G-Eazy) to the downright boring beat on Fish N Gritts, there is frankly not much to write positively about on this album. Now, Wale did have a fantastic inspiration for making music this time around, which he has spoken about in several recent interviews, and that is his daughter. This is undoubtedly a quality aspect of any artistic project, the inspiration of fatherhood. However, this influence does not save SHINE by any means. This project is not particularly awful, nor is it impressive. It is simply bland and tiresome to listen to.

Wale has always seemed to have potential. He can rap, he has a good mind. However, he does not put these things to efficient use and it is very disheartening to hear as a hip hop fan. Best of luck, Wale. Please see the room for improvement.