Wale knows a thing or two about comebacks. In fact, the MMG rapper’s propensity for successful musical resurrection made him the perfect artist to create “No Pain No Gain,” the title track to the documentary about Robert Griffin III’s football comeback, “RGIII: The Will to Win.”
“If anybody knows about comebacks, it’s Wale,” the Washington, D.C., native told MTV News about the NFL Films and Gatorade Productions film. “Being dropped from Interscope, then going through that whole ordeal, to now being one of the top rappers in the country, I know what that’s about. I know what it’s like to deal with that uncertainty. I use it all as motivation, and hopefully Rob uses it as motivation as well.”
On the inspirational track “The Gifted,” the MC spits intricate metaphors with impassioned fortitude and dexterity. He channels the 2012 NFL Rookie of the Year’s mental and physical journey back to the gridiron after a season-ending knee injury in last year’s playoffs with lines like “This is hard work/ This is our turf/ I’ma carry the city till my arms hurt/ I’m a move maker/ Never lose faith/ I know the easy plays are through the hard work.”
“Gatorade and Rob reached out and it didn’t take me longer than a second to want to be a part of this,” the rabid Washington Redskins fan said. Before rapping, Wale was a football player himself at Robert Morris and Virginia State University.
“I’m a passionate person, to a fault at times. I’m just writing from the heart because I care about him as a personal friend. Just being a former athlete, knowing what that’s like, it’s a horrible thing. And whether it’s getting dropped from a label, whether you got fired from your job or whatever the case may be, it’s all about putting in that work and that’s what I’m trying to exude on the track, that’s the picture I’m trying to paint.”
Folarin and Griffin have bonded over their collective quests to rep the District of Columbia, to be the best at what they do and their penchant for making sacrifices for the good of their respective teams: Wale for Maybach Music, RGIII for the ’Skins.
Wale draws comparisons between football’s and hip-hop’s competitive natures, which came to the forefront for the poetically inclined lyricist when Kendrick Lamar mentioned him during his lyrical assault “roll call” on Big Sean’s “Control.”
“I liked it, I loved it,” he said. “I went and wrote two songs after I heard Kendrick’s verse just because. And it wasn’t even directed at him. I was like, ’Let me just go write like a maniac for a couple of hours’ and that’s what I did. It’s unorthodox, it’s not what’s been going on recently in hip-hop.”
“Not everybody is a great rapper, not everybody lives for the art of lyricism. I’m one of the people that studied the game, and Kendrick will tell you. Man, I got text messages from Kendrick, so I know what it was, it was blown out of proportion. My job is to inspire the people, to be on top of my game and push my culture forward. That’s what I believe in, and I believe in things like ’No Pain No Gain.’ ”
The Steve Trout and Jay Jackson–directed doc “RGIII: The Will to Win,” which offers a rare inside look at the star quarterback’s spectacular rookie season, his rehabilitation after ACL reconstruction and personal off-the-field moments, airs August 27 on ESPN.
Be one of the first 500 fans to download Wale’s “No Pain No Gain.”