interview WALE (July 2008) | Interview By: Nima Etminan

Dubcnn sat down with Washington D.C.'s rising star Wale. The Allido/Interscope Records artist talks to us about his path up until now, meeting, signing and touring with Mark Ronson and getting recognition from legends such as Jay-Z or Bun B.

We then talk about his current Seinfeld-inspired "Mixtape About Nothing" and its ironical title. Wale tells us about his deal with Interscope Records, what to expect from his album, which will include production from Pharrel and Just Blaze, and much more.

As always we have both the transcript and the audio for you to check and please feel free to send any feedback regarding the interview to: nima@dubcnn.com

Interview was done in July 2008.

Questions Asked By :
Nima Etminan

Wale Gave Dubcnn.com A Shoutout! Check That Here

Full Interview In Audio : Here

Related Media:

Wale - The Perfect Plan
Dubcnn: We've hooked up with Washington DC's own Wale, to start it introduce yourself to those out there who might not be familiar with you yet!

My name is Wale, I'm signed to Interscope through Allido Records. I'm trying to leave my mark on this rap game, I guess.

Dubcnn: The first time I heard about you was through Bun B, who mentioned you as one of his favorite new artists in an interview we did with him last year. How did you get connected with Bun?

Oh, a guy from MTV kind of introduced me to him, set it up and sometime last year, a couple months ago we hooked up and we've been talking ever since then, we talk on the phone everyday.

Dubcnn: Yeah he put me on to your movement, and it seems like a lot of heavyweights are co-signing you early on in your career, from Jay-Z to Kanye West to Lil Wayne to Mark Ronson. What's your secret?`

There's really no secret! I'm very meticulous towards my music and I feel like a lot of people who are like that are the ones you stay around longer, people who take their music seriously. That's pretty much the connection right there.

Dubcnn: Tell us about your youth in D.C., who were you listening to when you were coming up?

Everybody, Jay-Z obviously, Camp Lo, obviously every Go Go band that was out at the time, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets. I have a very big list of people from different genres that I listened to.

Dubcnn: How would you compare the scene in D.C. compared to places like New York, Atlanta or Los Angeles?

It's not star struck at all. If someone famous walked in a wall you wouldn't see people all like "Oh did you see so and so walked in the mall!" It's very sombre, melancholic. It's home! It's like no one knows how to act towards the musicians, we don't have too many stars and you don't see too many stars around here.

Dubcnn: Your buzz has been growing exponentially since last year, did you expect things to take off as quick as they did?

Well we've been doing it for a long time, about 10 years now, 11 years! So when you've been doing it so long, you don't perceive it as happening quickly, you know what I'm saying?

Dubcnn: Yeah that was actually my next question, I was about to say that for a lot of people who are just starting to hear about you now, it may look like an overnight thing, but tell us how long have you been on the grind locally?

I feel like anybody who's "blowing up" looks like an overnight thing. A lot of people adapt to artists, trends and stuff so late that once they come on board, the movement is already moving! I feel like what I've done is so out in the open that if you do your research, you'll see that I've done a lot of things already. So don't think it's an overnight success!

Dubcnn: I believe you did a dedication to Black Thought of the Roots on a mixtape, which lead to you being featured on several songs on the new Roots album. Tell us about that connection and how it was recording with one of your favorite MC's.

That was the point where I thought "Okay, I've been anointed, I'm amongst vets." Even though I'm a new artist, I've already been able to talk to and meet and have dinner and shows with some of my favorite artists, like a Black Thought, like a Jay-Z, like a Nas. I've met and chilled with these people already so it's like, I feel like anything that I do now is... not necessarily maxed out, but I feel like I'm amongst greats so I have to perform great at all time. It's just an extra motivation to perform great.

Dubcnn: You also hooked up with Mark Ronson, which eventually lead to you getting signed to Interscope Records... Was Interscope something you would have chose to roll with all along?

We already had several deals on the table but I felt like Allido's infrastructure was top notch, I wanted to be there, I wanted to have a home within a home. I think I would've ended up signing with Interscope regardless, but I felt like with Mark Ronson's imprint, there's a lot more structure in the whole thing. Interscope is so competitive, it's so powerful and it's the biggest and best label out right now that exists. It's so much competition going on there that you need that structure, you need a Mark and Rich to kind of help you with the process of making an album.

Dubcnn: Are you afraid that you will have to switch up your sound or have to follow Interscope guidelines when it comes to your major label debut as opposed to doing what you want?

I feel like Jimmy Iovine and all those people, they understand me so much as an artist that they don't want to change anything. Everybody's excited about my project there and I'm excited to be there. It's an understanding, they wouldn't have signed me if they didn't understand it. Artist development is obsolete now, nobody signs an artist that they'd have to take time on and money to change.

Dubcnn: Alright, cause you hear so many different stories, like when Rakim got signed that they were trying to make him to do something he did't want to do and stuff like that. I know that you're an artist that's very passionate about your craft so I was just wondering if you were worried about that.

Nah, we're good, we're 100% good on that.

Dubcnn: Speaking of doing what you want... Let's talk about your latest mixtape, the "Mixtape About Nothing". The title does not fit the tape at all if I may say...

Yeah, that was the undertone to the undertone message. In certain songs I say "this is a mixtape about nothing but I'm really saying something" you know? It's all an ironic thing, cause Seinfeld was an ironic show. The show was about nothing but actually it was about a lot of things.

Dubcnn: How has the feedback been to "Mixtape About Nothing" so far?

It's been great, all over the internet. Real good feedback.

Dubcnn: For those who haven't heard it yet, what would you tell them about it?

It's very innovative. Just the thought process, to the writing to the songs, everything is innovative.

Dubcnn: The mixtape is inspired by the TV sitcom "Seinfeld". You said you were a big fan, what did you think when the whole Kramer racist outbreak happened?

I wasn't mad. I'm not that sensitive about situations like that. At the end of the day I went to high school for a year at a predominantly white school and I the college I went to was a predominately white college. So I understand it, I also play sports and a lot of things were raised that involved race in that as well. I'm not sensitive at all when it comes to race, I don't have a complex about that.

Dubcnn: You don't seem to be too focused on what people think or the typical clichés. How would you describe your style, the way you carry yourself?

I feel like I'm a very humble person. You have to have some type of confidence though, to survive in this Hip-Hop world. I feel like I'm a pretty confident guy but at the same time I never take myself too seriously. I think a lot of rappers take themselves too serious and then it becomes a situation in which they have to live up to an image so hard, that it's hard to maintain financially or living wise. They gotta have a different chain everytime a new album comes out, things like that. I don't have to do that, I can be a normal Wale.

Dubcnn: On "The Perfect Plan" you have a line that goes "You say the arts dying, nah brother buy an album!" Do you feel like a lot of people are being hypocritical complaining about the state of Hip-Hop but then not supporting the artists they like themselves?

Definitely. It's like buying your favorite players jersey, you know? You want to represent your favorite player. So if you want to represent your favorite artist, don't download it and then go play it in the car like "this is hot!" You gotta get that message back to the artist, go buy it.

Dubcnn: Tell us one thing that you think is good about Hip-Hop in 2008, and one thing that you dislike.

What I like is that it employs a lot of people. From the A&Rs to the publicists to the hypeman to the tour caterer, whatever it is. It gives an opportunity for people to work and I'm all for that. There's not really too much I dislike about Hip-Hop, maybe some of the people that kind of rape the culture or the whole payola thing. I don't like that too much.

Dubcnn: Is payola something that you've personally experienced so far?

I mean, it's everywhere! Everybody's doing it, it just is what it is.

Dubcnn: It's like an open secret?

Yeah, everybody knows.

Dubcnn: You went on tour with Mark Ronson last year, what kind of experience was that?

Oh, culture shock! A lot of things, it was grooving! I was kind of all alone, like I come from a different world than everybody who was on tour with me. Me and Alex Greenwald from Phantom Planet were the only Americans on the tour, but I was the only rapper period. It was difficult for me at times, but all in all it served its purpose and it was a good look.

Dubcnn: Do you have any funny memories from the tour you'd like to share with us?

It's all a blur now! *laughs* The tour was good, it was a great experience. I'm gonna be doing a couple of dates again this summer!

Dubcnn: How would you describe a studio session with Mark Ronson?

Uhm... meticolous, I guess? He makes me do verses over and over and over and then decides which one he likes the best.

Dubcnn: Tell us about your website elitaste, is that just a blog of stuff you like or how would you describe it

It's not necessarily mine, I just kind of correspond and give a little feedback that I do or whatever. It's not necessarily like my blog, I just correspond on there.

Dubcnn: Let's talk about the D.C. Hip-Hop scene a little bit, how do you feel about it and is there anybody else coming up out of there we should keep an eye out for?

Yeah definitely! People like X.O., Tabi Bonney obviously, Hitter Quitter, it's a lot of people!

Dubcnn: Which producers can we expect you to work with on your album?

I've already done stuff with Just Blaze and Pharrell. Me and Just Blaze are getting close, he's a real good dude. Pharrell is cool, DJ Toomp, and I got my people from D.C. Best Kept Secret, we did a lot of records together. It's a lot of people that I'm looking forward to working with, it's about being able to get with them, that's a different story. I'd love to get with DJ Premier, but it's not always easy to get to him.

Dubcnn: Can we expect the album to have the Go Go sound that we've been hearing from you?

Yeah, definitely! A lot of Hip-Hop has had Go Go sounds, it's just that people analyze it a little bit more when it's coming from me. It's a lot of live drums and things of that nature on the album.

Dubcnn: Do you have an estimated time frame when we can expect your album to come out?


Dubcnn: Ideally, where would you like to see yourself a year from now?

Still in the game! Music is so disposable right now, I just hope that mine isn't something that ends up in the trashcan or in the dumpster!

Dubcnn: We definitely wish you the best! Before we go, is there anything else you'd like to let everybody know?

Look out for the album and download the mixtape!



Wale Gave Dubcnn.com A Shoutout! Check That Here

Full Interview In Audio : Here


Enter Your Email Address
To Receive Our
Free Newsletter!