The title of Wale’s sophomore album pretty much says it all—these songs are dripping with swagger and self-assertion, justified by the D.C. rapper’s relentless flow and brazen attitude. Released by the Maybach Music label of Miami mastermind Rick Ross, Ambition doesn’t take Wale away from his underground past so much as kick him up to the next level. Part of the album’s positive glow comes from the involvement of A-list collaborators—DJ Toomp cranks up the party quotient on “Legendary,” and Big Sean dives into the mix on “Slight Work.” For his part, Wale believably asserts himself as a man on the rise, shrugging off past triumphs while daring all comers to take him on. “Don’t Hold Your Applause” and the title track (featuring Ross and Meek Mill) combine gangsta cool with a seething inner desperation. Stretching Ambition’s boundaries are “Miami Nights” (a salute to Ross’ home base, spiced with smoldering horns), “Lotus Flower Bomb” (an intoxicating slow jam with an erotic kick), and “Illest B****” (an affectionate salute to the ladies in his life).