|Recording information: Doppler Studios, Atlanta, GA; PatchWerk Recording Studios, Atlanta, GA; Play Studios, NY; SoundTrap Studios, Atlanta, GA; Zac Recording, Atlanta, GA.
|On the title track of his sophomore release, Washington, D.C. rapper Wale declares that "Ambition is priceless, it's somethin' in your veins." He's speaking from experience as this varied and vibrant success displays, proving he's hungry to tackle some moody deepness on the title track while, just one cut earlier, "Slight Work" finds him in 2011 party mode, bouncing with fury as a Diplo beat percolates underneath. "Lotus Flower Bomb" is a laid-back throwback that could mix fine with any given Erykah Badu ballad, while "Illest B****" is the kind of stuff that puts hands up in the air, sounding soulful and all the way live as Wale testifies about the strong women in his life. With the album landing on Rick Ross' Maybach Music label, there's a shout-out to the South Beach set with the sunshine soul number "Miami Nights," and as the Ross-like "Chain Music" plus the smartass gangster manifesto "No Days Off" ("The revolution may be televised/But make sure if they do see/Them people see my good side") drive the album home, it just seems natural that everything closes with producer Lex Luger at his best during "That Way." As far as why it all hangs together so well, credit goes to Wale's talent and his strong personality, which here has grown into an interesting combination of Lil Wayne and Plies, with a little 50 Cent smirk and bit of Drake's phrasing thrown in for good measure. ~ David Jeffries