KISS TOP TEN ALBUMS OF THE YEAR #7: WALE (Folarin II)

KISS TOP TEN ALBUMS OF THE YEAR #7: WALE (Folarin II)

Photo Credit: Randy Miramontez / Shutterstock.com

Most of the time when a project is named after a previous one, you don’t often see a connection between the two and it is mainly due to laziness or a marketing ploy to capitalize off a success project. This is not the case with “Folarin 2”, it’s to be the perfect title to embody the rediscovery of self Wale has been on with his last few projects. The “Angles” rapper said in an interview with XXL that if it were up to him different songs would be chosen for the lead singles for his albums. This is something that many artist struggle with but it seems that Wale has been able to make peace with satisfying label needs and focused more on delivering with his album cuts which is where “Folarin 2” shines.

By refusing to abandon any of interest that have made him stand out on a personal level Wale has a deep reference library that is on full display on this project. I truly believe artist become stale when they are inauthentic or their interest become aligned with the lowest common denominator, while this has never been a problem with Wale the full expression of all his interest from sneaker to wrestling has not been examined of records the way they are on this project. That’s why so much of this album revolves around understanding and accepting ones self.

There is an energy on this project that carries beyond the hits like “Poke it Out” and “Angles”. The album is infused the with some of Wale’s best bars and has the added benefit of some his best beat section as well, a skill that has been noticeable since the Ambition album in 2011. Folarin 2 sits as another milestone in the consistent evolution of Wale as an artist. He seems to have brought the individuality that we see in his personality into his lyrical content, something he started off doing almost a decade ago with the GO-GO infused “Dig Dug”.

Listening to the project you do get the sense that, 7 albums in, Wale has developed a sense of self that wasn’t present on some of his earlier works. The joke has always been ” why is wale asking us to pay attention to his music in his music” but recently it seems to a lot less of that and much more I deserve to be here. We here that’s sentiment reflected on the opening track “New Balances” an obvious illusion to one of the DMV’s shoes of choice that also represents him in a way because of their underrated and number 4 status in the sneaker community, something the DC native talked about in his interview with Drink Champs.

What works about “Folarin 2” is Wale’s maturation from “pay attention to me” to “I’ve been here the whole time, where you been”. The album is yet another step closer to the completion of a soundscape that Wale seems determined to perfect, and the day that he does there won’t be any more need to ask the people to pay attention.  
 

-VK

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