Wale has been victim to one of the biggest injustices in music last year, with the lack of support for what was one of the best albums released. Shine was almost completely overlooked, and though it did well, what appears to be a lack of support from the label meant there was some sort of disconnect and it did not receive the acknowledgement it deserved. Maybe that statement is a lil’ bit exaggerated, however, it was definitely one of the better projects released, and albeit tracks like Fashion Week (ft. G-Eazy) may have been ahead of their time, even the star-studded single featuring Major Lazer, WizKid & Dua Lipa, did not rule the summer as it should have. Since, after a short hiatus, the DC wordsmith has parted ways with Atlantic records, and a blessing in disguise as he shortly released this It’s Complicated EP
In an era where most projects tend to be over 15 tracks, Folarin proves his worth as an artist with substance, staying true to the EP format, with 4 tracks, and though the average listener may question that, it’s testament to the EP’s playback value. Starting with the title track, a classic Wale creation, fusing his signature spoken word, emphasising his poetic nature, as he opens up with a very realistic and current love story. “It’s complicated to find a lady in my generation…that’s not preoccupied with social clout, we almost fazing out from the high we get from love and conversation, to go on IG galavanting for likes and shit, Oh it’s complicated..”, he sets the tone from the get go, and as much as Wale may be praised for his dedications to women (such as Diary and Ice and Rain), the poetry of his lyricism is often overlooked, “Foundation on all my pillows, still your tender face is flawless when the sky kiss you..”, very few can paint these pictures and execute it with such coolness and machismo. The honesty in his music, much like his craft, is underrated, similar to how he is able to give you both sides, to where it’s not only relevant but relatable for so many in today’s times.
Already through one song, we’re given different dimensions, but it does not stop there, with the conceptual Black Bonnie, another ode to the yearning of a ride or die, the need of loyalty and compromise. Through my own understanding, the black woman has been one of the most oppressed, and what should not be ignored is Wale’s constant support of our queens (throughout his career), and this song effortlessly strengthens such notion, through the Bonnie & Clyde metaphor, he places her Godly intuition rightfully high, it’s a beautiful sentiment and something that he deserves more recognition for. Along with the addition of Jacquees’ (underrated) vocals, it truly amplifies the feeling and helps transcend the idea that is Black Bonnie. Now whether this EP is a translation of real life regarding someone in particular, or something he quests for, like his music..he is in search of substance, with the stronger essences of maturity and growth evident thus far. Some of the best artists are those who are transparent within their music, from the likes of Kanye West to Future, and Wale sits in the middle, as with (my initial favourite) Effortless, while the song itself is catchy and cool (with it’s Mary Jane Girls – All Night Long sample), it’s fairly truthful to where he’s at in life, as he quietly rebuilds, he touches on that, “I’ve been here..but I’ve been low key, can’t nobody say they’ve seen me around..”, distant from social media of late, it’s allowed him to live a bit more it seems, and he’s able to blend that into his music, even it’s laid-back feel really accentuates the content, and you just have to pay attention to garner glimpses of vulnerability as he drops his guard with this one, “I know I’m petty and immature..and I know, I’ve been hurt before..shouldn’t be the source of my cold heart, maybe shawty could be the first..to show me how to love on a level where effort isn’t work”. The way Effortless is catchy in sound, the final track of the EP has one of the catchier flows. A more retrospective offering, Let It Go really helps put into perspective not just himself but the journey of the project, from establishing, trying, maintaing to ending, characteristics and reactions of how he as a human with his strengths & flaws, handles such situations and what they come with. What at first was a dope four track EP, it’s really more of a creative insight and further justifies my previous point of transparency, “I’m heavily flawed, God designed me a little different, always at odds with my mind and heart”. Also, prior to that bar he states, “I’m ’bout to get signed the fourth time in a row”, which is interesting, as up and until him signing with Atlantic via MMG, that was considered his third, so possibly he is gearing up to take his EMB imprint to a new home or acquire distribution (said to be Empire records), which means more music for sure. Wether that may be the case or not, it’s evident with this EP that while love may be complicated, he is in full control and on course to gain the adoration that his artistry deserves.