Culture VI: Do you consider your career where you’re at right now? It sounds like you do.
Wale: I obsess, I OBSESS…over success. And I’m not there yet.
Culture VI: Okay. What is success? What’s your personal definition?
Wale: It’s within. I know the bum standing under the bridge on New York Avenue in DC might feel successful some days. It has nothing to do with personal wealth, how much pussy you get, how much money you got. In my mind, I have an unexplainable goal that I have to reach and I won’t know it until I’m there. When I’m there, I’ll know, but it’s just not now. I can’t define what successful is. The day I can define successful, a blind man can describe what yellow looks like.
Culture VI: Alright, let me ask you this question. How close to fulfilling your potential were you on Attention Deficit. Like, if your talent is a 10, where was that album? How reflective of your talent was that album?
Wale: Albums are like, this is about to sound so cliche, but albums are like journal entries. I just wrote down what I’m feeling. So who the fuck is anybody to tell me that what I’m feeling isn’t conducive to life? It’s conducive to my life. I really went into a bathroom and seen girls doing blow! I wrote about it, you like to hear it? Here it go. “Chillin” – that was my shit! When I wrote it, I was feeling it! That’s what I was feeling. And I’m doing the same thing with this Ambition album. I put everything that I’m feeling now. And I’m older now, I wrote Attention Deficit like 3 years ago.
Culture VI: But, when you’re talking about music, you’re not just talking about the words and the feelings you write down, you’re talking about how you put those feelings down behind the music. How you craft it and craft the songs. And when you listen to Attention Deficit right now, was that very reflective of your talent or could you have done more? Do you feel like where you were at that part of life was reflected on the album?
Wale: With all due respect, and I say this with confidence because I know there’s a thin line between confidence and cockiness, that’s why we’re on the phone right now. You’re going to hear Attention Deficit tomorrow, or sometime after this interview, and you’re going to hear 3 or 4 things that you didn’t notice. And I promise you that. And I don’t even know you. I think that’s good music. I think that’s what good music is.
Culture VI: So you feel it was reflective of your talent level?
Wale: Listen, I have no reason in my mind to believe that if some of them records got the exposure – I got the whole video for “90210” now and everybody was thinking– these people that came on board recently will think it’s a new record. And they’ll probably call the radio station and ask for it, or they’ll probably try to find it. And then they’ll feel silly, because it’s been out for 2 years. But the timing is everything. Timing is 100% everything. Me and J Cole dropping in 94? Quatruple platinum in 94! Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean, me, all of us? WIZ KHALIFA?! You trying to tell me Wiz Khalifa was nominated for Best New Artist? You talking about the same Wiz Khalifa that I was bumping in college?! Oh okay. Timing is everything, my brother. And at the time, when I wrote Attention Deficit, it was the time. And Ambition will be the time. The only difference now is the microphone is a lot louder. And niggaz got that fucking fuckery out they ears.
Culture VI: Alright, you mentioned 90210. You had that, Shades, Diary. I mean, you had some very lyrical type records…
Wale: Was I cocky back then?
Culture VI: On the records, or right now?
Wale: No! I’m giving you what you want. Was I cocky back then? That was the question I’m asking
Culture VI: Honestly, I listened to the album. I didn’t get the cockiness sense as much when I listened to the album the first time, I was really just starting to check your stuff, I had listened to the mixtapes first.
Wale: So what did you think?
Culture VI: My personal opinion? I wasn’t very impressed by the album. I mean, I liked some of it…
Wale: Good, I’m glad though. The album probably wasn’t for you. I don’t know you, but I don’t think you’re a woman. I don’t think you would relate to Shades.
Culture VI: I thought Shades was very well written though. That was actually one of the records I liked. I liked Shades, I liked Diary. I felt you on those because it sounded like you. What I personally felt, as I started listening to your catalogue, I started hearing a lot of the same type of records, especially when I listen to Self Made. I was listening to Self Made, and I was trying to wonder where this wonder kid Wale went because I just started hearing–
Wale: The wonder kid of Wale hadn’t been born yet, because apparently my first album wasn’t to your standards or to your liking. And, what you got to understand, in Hip Hop, when did you ever hear Biggie rap like how he rapped on Notorious Thugs? On Notorious Thugs right? So..if, in fact, that’s “infack” too, that’s a DC word, “infack”. If in fact, Bone Thugs and Harmony and Biggie both went diamond, and then said “You know what? Let’s do an album together.” I’m quite sure…that the greatest rapper of all-time…would be rapping like Bone. Would be rapping like Notorious Thugs. And I’m pretty sure, God bless the dead, if Biggie’s album would have came out AFTER that, he’d be rapping like motherfucking Christopher Wallace! Next question, please…