Despite months of social media buildup and worldwide hype, Wale’s fourth studio album—titled, aptly enough, “The Album About Nothing”—proved to be one of the Washington D.C. soul rapper’s lowest-caliber works to date.
“Nothing” certainly has a few standout songs, but the highlight seems far and away to be Jerry Seinfeld’s clever hooks, which continue the “Seinfeld” motif that Wale started in his first mixtapes. This time around, Wale spent time in the studio with the legendary New York-based actor and comedian himself.
However, in contrast to the lyrical genius of Wale’s prior albums, “Attention Deficit” in 2009 and “Ambition” in 2011, this scattered album really is about nothing—with none of the charm of Seinfeld’s own sitcom about nothing.
Put simply: Wale lacks creative wordplay, compelling flow and specific subject matter on this work. The jazz-influenced, soulful production certainly elevates the quality of the album, but the repetitive and monotonous rapping dampens the overall energy.
A noteworthy song is “Girls on Drugs,” which proves to be the deepest track on the tape. Wale discusses his frustration with girls he wishes he could spend time with, but whose drug abuse and partying lifestyle stand in the way of a real relationship. The 30-year-old rapper throws down personal lines like, “I’m trying to get me a real woman to take out / But for now they’re wild.”
On “Glass Egg,” Wale raps behind an upbeat string instrumental about not letting stardom get to his head, with the title serving as a metaphor for the fragility of fame and fortune. He even brings excitement on a catchy chorus, singing, “I’ve been doing my own thing / And they said don’t ever change / And I pray I stay the same.”
But on “Matrimony (feat. Usher),” Wale spews a corny and clichéd love song about how his lifestyle makes it difficult for him to look like a worthy boyfriend. Though he can’t make things right at the moment, Wale thinks he and his date should be together forever—but in your reviewer’s honest opinion, no girl would stick around with a beat this boring. Wale then contradicts his prior thoughts in an attempt to be the controlling nice guy when he says, “Cause I’m selfish, and I need you to myself / Tryna see you afloat, but don’t wanna see you excel.”
Unfortunately, Wale’s new album is about as lyrically interesting as reading “Jane Eyre” backwards, and about as rhythmically invigorating as your grandmother’s workout music—but the upshot is that he’s at least taking risks. The ever-talented rapper’s slip-up may be a small mishap on a greater road to musical excellence, which many know he is capable of producing.