When Olubowale Victor Akintimehin—better known as D.C.-born rapper Wale—dropped his four-track Self Promotion EP back in April, we should’ve known it was foreshadowing something bigger. Another hint could have been the opening track “Negotiations” from the same EP, released two months after the rapper cut ties with his former label, Atlantic. “Mind racin’, negotiatin’ my situation/I’m bad business ,the rap industry thinks I’m crazy,” he raps on the single.
The announcement, then, that Wale signed with Warner Bros. Records two weeks ago shouldn’t come as a surprise. If anything, it signifies yet another new chapter in the rapper’s successful 10-year-plus career. “I am thrilled to be at a company that is willing to showcase my artistry, while supporting my entrepreneurial spirit,” Wale said in a statement. “I felt their passion, commitment and enthusiasm from day one. They believed in my vision wholeheartedly, and I am ready to show and prove.”
Wale’s 2017 album Shine had already indicated that he was gunning for a seat among rap royalty—breezy summer earworm “My Love”—with its tribal rhythms and guest features from Dua Lipa, Major Lazer and WizKid—has likely helped turn thousands into #Walenation converts. You’re sure to hear it when Wale returns to Rehab at the Hard Rock Hotel on Sunday.
From his humble beginnings in the nation’s capital repping the region’s distinct go-go style, to incorporating African sounds into his chart-ready bangers, Wale has always stayed true to his origins—even when, he says, it wasn’t to his benefit.
He recently tweeted that his skin color and African descent were among reasons why he hadn’t climbed the ranks of hip-hop stardom faster—comments that got people talking. While Wale has never been one to shy from controversy, his outspokenness has helped him to pave his own path.
How many rappers can say they created a Seinfeld-inspired record (The Album About Nothing) featuring none other than Jerry Seinfeld himself? What about kicking off President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union, or running their own record label? As if that all wasn’t enough, he’s also gearing up to release his sixth studio album at the end of 2018. Might we get a teaser of said record on Sunday? One can only hope.
Wale at Rehab June 3, 11 a.m., $20-$40. Hard Rock Hotel, 702-693-5505.