When [artist id="2990927"]Wale[/artist] announced the release of his single “Chillin’ “ in April, it was met with a few raised eyebrows. The D.C. MC had enlisted [artist id="3061469"]Lady Gaga[/artist] for the track, and many wondered how the performance-art, dance-pop princess would fit in Wale’s world of go-go and clever flows. They also wondered if it were just an attempt to garner some notoriety for the up-and-coming rapper standing alongside the hugely popular Gaga.
Once the song was released, others wondered why he hadn’t just grabbed M.I.A for the hook; Gaga’s “Chillin’ ” chorus sounds eerily similar to M.I.A.’s world-traveled flow. When MTV News caught up with Wale on the video set for “Chillin’,” he said his goal was to go against the status quo of what a hip-hop track should sound like.
“Diddy, Kanye and Jay are always the first ones to do something, and I like to think of myself as the first person of the new class to kind of step out of the box,” Wale said. “It’s 2009 now. Jay-Z is doing sold-out arenas with Kelly Clarkson. It’s world music now. I want ‘Chillin’ ‘ to be a celebration of that.”
Wale had been campaigning since November to get Lady Gaga on a track, because he felt she embodied the song’s party-record feel.
“If music was a high school, I feel like I’ll be the dude on the football team, and it would be like, ‘OK, Gaga’s having a party!’ And you know all the bad girls are going to be out there.”
Gaga told MTV News on the video set that Mark Ronson, Wale’s mentor, originally sent her the record. “I really wanted to sit down with Wale before I wrote the hook,” she recalled. “Because to me, it’s really lame when people send you tracks, and they’re like, ‘All right, Gaga, throw your vocals on it.’ This is Wale’s record. It’s not my record.”
Gaga said Wale sounds like he’s been rapping for years. His hip-hop braggadocio seems to have rubbed off on her as well. Her portion of the song — which includes the lines “Lookin’ at, lookin’ at, lookin’ at me/ Eyes on me like honey on bees” — is completely narcissistic, she admitted, but in a really positive way. “It’s one of those songs, one of those tracks and one of those videos that you can’t stop listening to,” she said.
Despite the catchiness of the song and their apparent chemistry on set, Wale recognized that some people still won’t get it. Breaking down barriers in music isn’t an easy thing, he said, but that won’t stop him from trying: “If Jay-Z can work with Coldplay, then Wale should be able to work with Gaga.”