Wale changed the arc of his career when he signed with MMG to release his sophomore album, Ambition, but after establishing himself in the sphere of Rozay's crew, the D.C. rapper is ready to move forward once again.
His upcoming third album will actually find him leaning toward his earlier, more experimental work and, in his own words, "It probably sounds the most like 100 Miles & Running and a little bit of Attention Deficit."
"I just wanna show range. I've proven a lot to my peers and to myself and to my fans, so I just want to take it back to something a little bit more exciting, when the music was most exciting to me," Wale told MTV news of the album, which he's hoping to prep for February release.
Earlier in his career, especially when Wale was signed to Mark Ronson's Allido Records, it wouldn't be out of the ordinary to find him rapping over a Gorillaz beat or collaborating with artists such as Daniel Merriweather (which he did on the 2007 mixtape 100 Miles & Running) or grabbing K'naan for a memorable feature (which he did on Attention Deficit), but things have changed in the past few years.
"I've been [swamped with] my own stuff, doing [MMG compilation album] Self Made and all of those things, and I haven't had an opportunity to stand on my own sonically as an artist, as much as I would like," he admitted. "But this new project I've been working on is definitely allowing me to do that.
"I've got about 40 songs recorded, but it's not coming as quickly as other projects," he continued. "Self Made, I could just hear the beat [and rap], but now I can be like, 'I don't like the strings, I don't like the percussions, let's change the snare,' and I might be doing it myself, so it's a little bit different. It's risky, but without risks, you're just kicking a dead horse. I look at my albums differently than a lot of other artists. I really and truly believe in that body of work."
The new album might come as a surprise to some of the fans Wale gained in the MMG era, especially those who weren't familiar with his work before Ambition. "The funny thing about it is, a lot of people think Ambition is my first album, which is crazy," he said, sharing the feedback he's gotten on Twitter. "Y'all are in for a rude awakening in this third go-round while a lot of my older fans are gonna be embracing it easily."