Wale graces the cover of Billboard this month alongside the Boss, Rick Ross, and the article talks on his first album "Attention Deficit," joining MMG, "Ambition" and more. Check out some excerpts below.
Enter Rick Ross. The Def Jam Recordings artist was looking for acts to sign to his then-homeless Maybach Music Group imprint. Ross reached out to Wale at Delaware State University after a homecoming show at which they'd both performed. They spoke in Ross' dressing room, and then kept in touch afterward. "I was on his radar," Wale says. "Ross had the vision from the start."
Wale officially joined MMG/Warner Music Group in February. "Ross believed in him," says Joie Manda, Warner Bros. Records executive VP/head of urban music. "And when Ross came in and played Wale's records, I believed also."
Wale was heavily featured on Maybach's summer compilation effort, "Self Made, Vol. 1.," which has sold 183,000 copies, according to SoundScan. The track "That Way," featuring Ross and R&B crooner Jeremih with Wale headlining, was the set's last single but also seemed like "Ambition's" unofficial first.
On Advice Wale Got From Jay-Z:
Wale has good advice coming from all directions. "Jay-Z, essentially, is my business adviser," Wale says. "Him, Rich and [Roc Nation's] John Meneilly. I know Jay has a personal place in his heart for Ambition. I remember one time I was on the phone with Jay, asking him, 'What did I do [wrong]? What can I do differently?' He was like, 'Maybe you just didn't come with that single. You made a solid first album. But you didn't come up with that single.' That just added fuel to my fire."
"Ambition" is a concentrated effort, mostly stripped of big-name producers. It builds on Wale's go-go base, bringing a genre whose most notable hits are 1986's "Da Butt" by Experienced Unlimited and "Sardines" by Junkyard Band, screeching into 2011 with tracks like "Don't Hold the Applause" and "Double M Genius." Along with Wale's ever-improving rhymes, the album boasts several of those strong, radio-ready records.
"'That Way' is the biggest radio record of his career," Manda says. And it's no coincidence that his charming single "Lotus Flower Bomb" (with ByStorm/Jive R&B singer Miguel) also targets women. Wale has a tendency toward romance. "His marketing director Shari Bryant is super-serving his female fan base and making sure they know how great he is, and how he's speaking to them," Manda says. Wale credits the response to the single (which is No. 5 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs after seven weeks, making it one of the chart's fastest-rising tracks of the year) to its honesty-and his zodiac sign. "'Lotus Flower Bomb' is a real love song. It's no secret. I'm a Virgo. I love love."
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