An interview with Wale

by Brandon Perkins

Rest assured dedicated Web 2.0'ers, DC rapper Wale has not forsaken Twitter. One of the most committed Tweeters this side of Japanese school children, Wale had sworn off the message posting website after a particular Tweet got him in trouble with the DJ Semtex. While interviewing Wale, the UK journalist read this on the rapper's Twitter page (2): “am i the only artist who hates doin interviews??” All [sic] aside, it stirred something of a controversy. For the first time, he addresses why he hates doing interviews in the first place. But yeah, first things first…

The man makes music. Really good music. Layered raps with brain tickling punchlines and lengthy metaphors over production as close to home as DC's Go-Go drums and as far away as Europe's dance delights. He's been co-signed by everyone from Jay-Z to Mark Ronson, but he's yet to release a proper full length. Although, his Seinfeld-themed Mixtape About Nothing made many year-end lists in 2008.

He's performing alongside Blu and Exile at the Key Club this Thursday, Jan. 29, and for the first time, he's bringing the whole band out to the Left Coast.

I hear you're bringing the band out to LA this time?

Yeah, this will be my first show on the West Coast with the band. We had a historic show at Highline [Ballroom in NYC] with the band and it was a real, real, real good look. So I'm just excited to bring that show to the West Coast. I take a lot of pride in my live show and put more energy there then I do in the studio. I feel that my live show is the most important thing now.

How's the album coming?

It's coming, man, we're just fine-tuning a little bit. We got Cool & Dre on there, Mark Ronson, Best Kept Secret from DC and a couple other people. I got 60 songs done, so I can't say who's going to be on the record or not, as we're figuring that out in private or whatnot. But Cool & Dre, Ronson, Best Kept Secret and TV on the Radio are definitely going to be on the project.

How were the recording sessions with TV on the Radio?

It was kinda funny because I wasn't too familiar with their music and they weren't that familiar with mine, but when people that make good music get around each other then something good is going to come out of it.

Out of those 60 songs, is there a package or a vibe that's starting to gel into what will make a fluid album?

I'm just trying to do my best to push the envelope, sonically. At first, I was going for a specific sound, but now it's like, let me do all types of records, let me make all types of sounds, not just a regional sound of DC, let's make a world sound.

Still calling the album, Love Day?

No, not Love Day….it's bigger than that now, it's expanded. We're going to announce the name of the album in a week or two.

Not that my NY Giants are playing this weekend, but you talked a big game about your Redskins before the season…what happened there?

I don't even wanna talk about that, man. It's just like that girlfriend that did you wrong over and over again, but you still take her back. I saw it coming from a mile away, the start of the season was just too good to be true.

Are you going through Twitter withdrawal?

I feel like going back on it, man. It's just a matter of me not understanding the power of Twitter. You just think on impulse on there, know what I'm saying? Like….fuck. Like, you know how they bunch in the club and [you'll say], “Fuck the club.” It doesn't really mean fuck every club. You think out loud. And I guess that's what makes me good at freestyling and writing, because I just think on a whim like that. [The situation with DJ Semtex] was just a complete misunderstanding. And I know that really gets used so much, but take this interview for instance. It's nothing like most of the interviews I do because it's so direct. If I do five interviews for DC publications, not being the Washington Post or the Washington Times or anything like that, but the blog of a DC person who gets 10 views a day, it's just covering the same ground. When I wrote that, I wrote it not knowing that Semtex was going to interview me. He was supposed to interview me two days before that and my publicist emailed me saying that he canceled. So that day, you know, I had already done four interviews, I was traveling, and so the fifth time my publicist called me, that's when I wrote it. And two hours later, Semtex called to interview me. It was a clusterfuck.

But you do have a point, a lot of interviews really do suck…

That's the point. And this isn't directed at Semtex or anyone specific, it's just my general opinion on all of it, but if people take the time to critique an artist's album then it's only right that an artist can tell a journalist to step their interview game up. Why would you ask me how I got started? Some interviews could be a little more in depth, I think the readers deserve that. For instance, Jay-Z did an interview with Playboy maybe 4-5 years ago, and I feel like that's one of the best interviews I've ever read. I learned so many things from that. Like, I played Division-I college football for years and no one has ever asked me about that. I lived in P.G. County and Montgomery, Maryland, for half my life, but no one ever asked me about that. I went to a detention center school directly to a 50% white school…there's so much that I could talk about and no one wants to do the research and ask me new questions. It's me being ignorant and thinking that it'd go a different way.

I have to understand, and I was talking to a lot of artists [after the story came out] and they were saying that that's how it is when you first come out, because a lot of people don't know you. A lot of it is just growing, man. I'm learning as I go. I don't know everything. I never had anybody to look at, nobody ever taught me, and where I'm from I didn't have any famous role models. I take full responsibility for saying that, I mean, I do think it was taken out of context, but you live and you learn.

Some of that information is out there with a pretty simple Google search…

There are certain things that can be asked that get me excited. It's never a thing where I think I'm too good, I'm just the type of person who likes to be enlightened. I don't like to go through the motions. I would never date a woman who goes through the motions. Sure, she got a fat ass and she's cute and we can do whatever, but nah, let me learn something about you. I think the readers and the fans deserve that. And none of this is directed at Semtex because I think he's incredible at what he does, but some interviewers want to interview me just to say that they did it. I think it's cheapened things because there's probably really good journalists out there who can't get to artists because they're too busy doing interviews with someone who's going to ask how they got started.

LA Weekly