I’ve come to the conclusion that Wale’s career is just cursed in some way.
Over the past 10 years, the veteran DC emcee has produced a solid chunk of near-classic releases and has influenced countless successors, but when it comes to his actual existence within the culture, the guy just can’t catch a break.
In a recent string of now-deleted tweets, Wale—who much like Lupe Fiasco or Talib Kweli is never shy about defending his art and expressing his opinions—went to bat for himself against several "fans" who believe the quality of his music has declined since signing to Rick Ross’ MMG imprint.
As a former social media manager for a record label, I know just as well as anyone that Twitter can be the most vile, thoughtless, doubt-inducing platform ever for an artist. You could be the most beloved artist in the world and there’s still going to be a decent portion of the Twitter-verse that hates your guts and shits on everything you’ve ever created, just because they can.
Normally, I would advise an artist like Wale to do what every other artist does—ignore the hate. But, in this particular instance, Wale raised an important point about the lyrical content of his music in response to our current social and political climate.
I love that line, and I love that artists, like Wale—and recently Anderson .Paak—have accepted the much-needed role of refusing to ignore their surroundings to make more accessible music. When a vast majority of popular artists are subverting the entirety of current affairs in pursuit of accessibility or an escape from those surroundings, both the artist and the audience are done a disservice.
We can’t praise an artist like Kendrick Lamar for his socially conscious music and then turn around and tell Wale to go back to rapping about sneakers when he’s dealing with the same anxieties and concerns of every other black man living in Trump’s America.
There will always be fans that want an artist to remain exactly who they were when that fan first discovered them. It’s an unfortunate aspect of fandom, and an artist like Wale sticking to his guns and defending his evolution as an artist will hopefully inspire that next artist that wants to make the switch from carefree braggadocio to more pressing matters.
Kudos to Wale for refusing to turn a blind eye to the world’s ailments, I hope he finds the strength to instead turn a blind eye to those that don’t see he’s doing hip-hop a favor.
By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.
Photo Credit: Louie Knows