There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Washingtonians still view their home-grown rap star as a symbol of District hip-hop. Elsewhere, his second full-length was treated mostly as an extension of Rick Ross. That Wale owes much to his out-of-town patron is evident throughout Ambition, which is littered with the annoying calling card of Ross’ label: a woman saying, “M-m-m-Maybach Music.” Critics were rough on the album, saying it has too much of what Wale does poorly (pop hooks, boasts) and not enough of what he does well (go-go beats, lyrical wordplay). Fans disagreed, buying 164,000 copies in week one. Since 2009, when his first album tanked, Wale has somehow gone from an almost-was to a has-arrived. It has everything to do with the associations he’s forged (Ross) and the guest spots he’s secured (Waka Flocka Flame’s strip-club monster “No Hands”). That his records are aimless—and that his Twitter persona is insufferable—has stopped mattering. The mainstream has found its use for Wale. Locals should direct their cheerleading toward the likes of Fat Trel, X.O., and Oddisee.