Dorothy Hong, a 23-year old New Yorker, who just so happens to be a skilled photographer, captured a young Wale in an environmental photo that would change his life forever. In the March 2007 issue of The Fader magazine, Wale received his stamp of approval through a simple photo- that captured him talking on a phone, in a dim kitchen with an Egyptian Nefertiti covering his chest. A screened, “dope rope” chain, the white long sleeved undershirt and the African medallion, stood out as much as the idea, that he was something different.
Although he wore stylish clothes and talked on a fancy cell phone, the setting behind him, told a deeper story. The D.C. born emcee had been photographed in a place that was equivalent to almost every kitchen in the urban community. Through this piece of artwork, Wale became an average person and the relationship between him and the people led to almost 50,000 Myspace friends, European tour dates and the support of super producer Mark Ronson.
With light seeping through the window, to light up the room, a young yet determined Wale is positioned toward the light, almost suggesting that he is the future, in an industry in need of definition. With a nonchalant facial expression and Raisin Bran (cereal) sitting on stop of the refrigerator, Wale’s photo depicts “home.” A subliminal message of progress and achievement was captured on a sunny afternoon- in a single photo.
Before Fader, Wale was labeled “Unsigned Hype” in 2005, by The Source magazine. After Fader, Wale meets the cover of URB magazine as well as a “Top 8” to watch slot in Entertainment Weekly. He was also featured in the Washington Post, XXL magazine, MTV.com and several other major publications and websites.
If you haven’t had a chance to focus in on the artist who was caught under the lens, maybe you heard “Nike Boots” or “I am African” in the global community. Just in case you haven’t, HipHopDX presents the well-deserved Wale, with the certification of being DXNEXT.
This is for all the Africans, Go-Go goers and Hip Hop heads across the globe.
Hailing from: The nation's Capital also known as Washington, D.C.
Current works: Closing a deal with a major label, working on new material for the album, while doing shows across the country. Check him out at this year’s Grammy's.
Connects: The Clipse, Mark Ronson, Camp Lo, Jay-Z, Young Guru, Red Café, 7-30 Dips, Lily Allen, Rhymefest.
Past collabs: Lil Wayne, Jae Millz, Mark Ronson, M.I.A. He admits that he’s not a fan lots of features and on a respect level, he would rather the people hear him and approach him versus him searching for features.
Life outside of rap: “Well really, man, I just try to clear my mind-just do stuff. I hang with my family and my friends. I gotta big shoe fetish and I collect sneakas or whatever- shop. I’m not one of those dudes who like, ‘Man, I’m on the block all day’. I really like to chill man- real regular. Go out with my peoples or whatever. Go to a club, go-go or whatever. Just chill you know?”
Life before rap: Before rap, Wale was in college as a football player and prior to being kicked off the team, he had the intent on graduating with a degree in Communications. “I really couldn’t see myself doing anything math related,” he says. He starts to express his feeling about college by saying, “College is a place to by time…until you figure out what you want to do.” He encourages following your dreams and obtaining education to learn the information and not as a game of “memory.” According to the emcee, he left school because he began to “Get a lot of money from shows” and school became more of a “distraction” than a way to gain knowledge of his career goals."
Career sum up: “Complicated, man. I can have a show that’s sold out with celebrities came through and you can be on HipHopDX and one would think that everybody would know who I am or I can go to dinner with the greatest rapper of all time and him telling me that my stuff is dope then go on the internet in the middle of the night and read ‘Nobody fucks with Wale in D.C.’ What are you talking about? I just had a show. People just paid 50 dollars to see me and it’s sold out. It’s complicated. I’m glad I’m getting the opportunity to tell my side of the story on HipHopDX.” He continues by talking about staying humble and struggling with the battle of the intake of the compliments and dealing with being a human being. At the end of the day he wants the people to know that he puts himself over nobody because the way in which he was raised.
Three words to describe the music: He picked creative, innovative and controversial. “Creative in that I try to create a branch off of the genre or create fusions between two genres. Innovative because that’s my mission statement and controversial because I can post a song on HipHopGame and than Brisco or Royce Da 5’9" -basically someone whose more buzz worthy than I am, can post one, but I’ll have more comments [laughing] whether it's personal slander or attempted slander, I’ll have more comments.” He doesn’t know why that is because he insists that he talks about nothing that’s too controversial.
Discover the music: Find him on www.walemusic.com, he goes out a lot in his city and in New York City. You can also find him on www.myspace.com/wale202, where you can download the mixtapes for free. He’s also on various Hip Hop websites, including HipHopDX.com. You can find him by any “digital means” necessary. You can also find the album in various sneaker stores in L.A., as well as ATMOS in Harlem.
Wale’s perception of Hip Hop: “I think its kind of one-sided right now, but I’m not mad at a Soulja Boy or a Hurricane Chris. I can't be mad at them because I don’t think Soulja Boy or Chris would be mad at Joell Ortiz or Skyzoo or Lupe or myself if people were downloading ringtones of Immortal Technique. I think they’ll still be in their crowds or circles dancing and clapping.”
Message to the people: “Um, support what you like and don’t be too concerned with what other people say. If it was up to me, Lupe, Phonte and Pooh would be selling out bigger venues. They would be Top 10 on the Billboard charts right now. That’s what I wanna hear. I’m 23 years old. If I was 19, I probably would be juking and jiving…maybe we’ll be juking and jiving together. We were kind raised on content.”