Rapper Wale had an unpredictable and odd 2014. The D.C. representative of Maybach Music Group punched a heckling fan while attending a WWE event in April, left Jay Z's Roc Nation management in August in favor of 77 North -- run by LeBron's buddies -- and had a one-sided "beef" with fellow MMG member Meek Mill that lasted as long as Kim Kardashian's marriage to Kris Humphries.
The dispute ended in peace, of course, after the Bawse, Rick Ross, provided his mediator services for the sake of the MMG kingdom and friendship. But it was not before Wale wrote a response to Mill's Twitter dis on Instagram about how much his presence on the label is an oxymoron, him being a nonstreet, Zelda-loving, WWE-watching sneakerhead more than capable of contributing a standout verse on those street songs and embracing it.
And Wale's nerdiness, his outsider status in the rap game, is just one -- but one very important -- thing to appreciate about him. He's been able to successfully continue rapping with the traits of a slam poet and rhymes that make Rap Genius a bookmark on your Google Chrome tab.
Take "Nike Boots," for example. It's not literally about Nike Goadome boots; it's symbolic. It's about not losing sight of how the environment molds the individual, how to achieve success, and how we are unified through commonalities.
He raps: "We all still here, from the dealers to the kids/To the squares to the fly/One thing we are aligned with/Black on black Nikes/They represent the lifeless lives/And it reflects the plight of those fighting so/If we ain't right at the throats/Of one another at least we got our Goadome Nikes."
Or let's take Wale's more recent single, "The Body," off his upcoming album The Album About Nothing. It offers an aesthetic comparison of countless automobile features to that of a female, as well as his experience of femininity.
"Top down, let me kiss your physique/I'm diggin' your fleek, I'm checkin' your gear/Can tell you had a good year, spent a grip on your feet... Sex is her weapon, my snake in her garden/So when I'm not here, the Viper is on."
And, of course, in alignment with his hip-hop "otherness," there's Wale's collaboration with Jerry Seinfeld on the aforementioned 2015 release The Album About Nothing.
The album's title and Wale's desire to collaborate with Seinfeld did not come as a surprise to fans who have followed the rapper's career since 2008's Mixtape About Nothing. Nor was it a shock for those he accrued via 2010's Another Mixtape About Nothing with many snippets and references to Seinfeld, Kramer, George, and Elaine. Instead, it may have come as a surprise to Seinfeld fans. These two do come across as the new Odd Couple. But apparently Jerry's wife, Jessica, is an avid fan of the rapper.
And for those listeners who may not have believed the two would have the ability to mesh well, the pair has released multiple videos of the two discussing topics such as shoes, hecklers, the burden of celebrity, and the relationship between strip clubs and chicken wings. Yes, you read that correctly. Seinfeld talks strippers and chicken wings. And in case you were wondering, Seinfeld would rather have them separate.
There's no one else quite like Wale out there, but we're grateful to have at least one of him deepening the lyrics and lightening the mood of modern hip-hop.
Wale, Simply Nothing Tour with Audio Push, Bizzy Crook, Andrew Floyd, and Marlon Ponce. 7 p.m. Wednesday, February 11, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $25 in advance and $28 day of show, plus fees. Call 954-449-1025, or visit jointherevolution.net.