In this week’s paper, Washington City Paper critic Joe Warminsky offers his take on Wale‘s third album, The Gifted, calling it a missed opportunity for the hometown rapper to assume a comfortable position behind the wheel.

Warminsky points out that The Gifted has its strong points—-particularly its elegant production and a few choice lyrical moments—-but the first third of the record drags, bogged down by Wale’s ruminations on how tough it is to be Wale.

His third major-label album, The Gifted, feels fussed-over even when it’s supposed to be breezy, as if the pop-rap successes of 2011’s Ambition—“Lotus Flower Bomb,” “That Way”—earned him only pressure, not wiggle room. To be fair, he sounds like he’s enjoying the job. But that’s not the same as being free.

Read the whole review online now and in print Thursday.