Wale delivers lyrics you can live by—bolstered by witty punchlines, thoughtful concepts, and painfully earnest introspection. Born Olubowale Victor Akintimehin in 1984, Wale, the son of Nigerian immigrants, was raised in the Washington D.C. area. With an itch for making songs heavily infused with go-go, the District's official sound, he dropped out of college to pursue music full-time, eventually landing a deal with producer Mark Ronson's Allido Records in 2007 and Interscope Records a year later. A string of mixtapes found the rapper grappling with morality in both everyday life and early stardom—most notably on 2008's Seinfeld-inspired The Mixtape About Nothing—and earned him a diehard fanbase ahead of his 2009 debut album, Attention Deficit. During his ascent amid the peak of hip-hop's blog era, Wale offered catchy melodies and bars speckled with pop-culture references on songs like the Lady Gaga-featuring "Chillin" and Waka Flocka Flame's 2010 club hit "No Hands"—and he could then pivot to reveal a more vulnerable, thoughtful side with vivid, prose-like lyrics. In 2011, Wale moved to Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group, adding a dually conscious and dance-ready vibe to an otherwise street-focused roster. But whatever label he's on, Wale consistently produces multidimensional releases, steering clear of predictability with woman-praising, rap-meets-R&B ballads like the Miguel-assisted "Lotus Flower Bomb," and "The Matrimony" alongside Usher. With richer sounds and more honest insights into mental-health and social issues ("Expectations," "Love Me Nina / Semiautomatic," "Sue Me") on 2019's Wow... That's Crazy, Wale has continued to dig deeper—and encourage his fans to do the same.
BORNSeptember 21, 1984