In the run-up to November 2009's release of his debut disc Attention Deficit, D.C. rapper Wale floated into pop consciousness on a thick, fast-moving cloud of accumulated hype.
After hooking up with master trend-caller Mark Ronson in 2006 and then signing a million-dollar deal with Interscope Records in 2008, the hip-hop seers (read: hyperbolic bloggers) seemed to think they'd found a savior.
Or at least the next Kanye West.
For Wale, the timing couldn't have been better. In fact, he was fronting the house band at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards when Kanye crashed the stage, ambushed Taylor Swift, and uttered those four infamous words: "Imma Let You Finish."
In that moment, the throne was vacant and Wale was only a few steps from snatching it up. But right away, he made a fatal move, coming to West's defense and telling the already pissed-off crowd: "You can't blame a man for speaking his mind." He was booed, loudly. The omens were out.
And ultimately, Attention Deficit fell short. The album never climbed any higher than 21 on the Billboard 200. It scored hesitant thumbs up from Pitchfork and XXL. And the pop audience basically shrugged. The worst part: The 26 year old seemed to be running in place, chasing the hype.
So maybe he wasn't the next Kanye. He's just Wale. Isn't that enough?
Wale with Contra, Ross One, and Jessica Who? as part of Dirty Hairy. Wednesday, December 15. LIV, 441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Doors open at 11 p.m. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-674-4680 or visit livnightclub.com.