Highlights: Wale, ‘Shine’


★★★

Wale, Shine © AtlanticWale delivers his most commercial album to date with ‘Shine.’ Unfortunately, ‘Shine’ won’t go down as a classic by the D.C. rapper.

Wale is an interesting rapper to say the least; he has lots to offer. However, on his fifth album, Shine, he changes the formula.  From the start, Shine contrasts the rapper’s previous work.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing (sometimes it is), but it inhibits Shine from being a classic.  While the ‘new’, commercial sound is surprising and arguably off-putting, the LP still has its moments.

“Running Back”

“Running Back” featuring Lil Wayne is slick AF. It’s an atypical sound for Wale, but it works out for what it is.  Essentially, this standout is a hard hitting, flex fest for both rappers.  Wale is on autopilot, using football speak to his advantage:

“B**ches want money stacks, I just want my percent / She told me to hit the hole, I used to play running back / You n***as be fumbling, don’t give ‘em no gun again / These b**ches be flying out, yeah, ‘cause money be coming in.”

The part about hit the hole is just what you think it is.

“Fashion Week”

“Fashion Week” featuring G-Eazy catches on from the initial listen. It features an excellent, rhythmic beat, which standouts among the rest of the album.  The chorus and post-choruses rock, without a doubt:

“Walk by, on fire, baby, can’t douse it / That body bangin’, accept that / You should model, girl, who do your booking? /…Switch, gold switch… / My B**ch.”

Much like the beat itself, Wale gives a stunning, rhythmic delivery:

“Mmm, I know a thing / And she tell me f**k her and call her a bad b**ch / I can never cuff her, I’m stuck on this rap shit / F**kin’ up the budget but nothin’ but rap shit.”

G-Eazy, as usual, thinks with the love below.

“Fish N Grits” 

“Fish N Grits” featuring Travis Scott is arguably the wildest song from Shine. The record features sketchy sounding, mysterious production work. Ultimately, the quirks of “Fish N Grits” play to Travis Scott’s strengths.

“My PYT” 

“My PYT” is among the crème de la crème of Shine.  First and foremost, the samples are smartly chosen: “Sexual Healing” (Marvin Gaye) and “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” (Michael Jackson). Expectedly, the hook is catchy, performed by both Sam Sneak & Wale.  The best part is all Wale, where he lifts directly from the Michael Jackson record:

“I want to love you / Pretty young thing / You need some loving / From a real one / I want to love you / Pretty young thing / You need some loving / And I’m a real one.”  

“Smile,” featuring Phil Ade & Zyla Moon concludes Shine.  One of the reasons its stands out is because Wale raps with more relevancy.  If listeners had been waiting for that Donald Trump reference, it finally arrives:

“And a possible bigot slash misogynist is ‘bout to run the whole damn thing…”

Final Thoughts 

Ultimately, ‘Shine’ won’t go down as a classic for the D.C. rapper.  This project has its moments, but it sounds quite different from the more soulful, thoughtful, and hard-hitting raps we’re accustomed to from him.  This is a more commercial effort, but perhaps the biggest letdown is the fact that Wale doesn’t dig deeper. It’s okay, but we expect more from Folarin.

Gems: “Running Back,” “Fashion Week,” “Fish N Grits,” “My PYT” & “Smile”

Wale • Shine • Atlantic • Release: 4.28.17
Photo Credit: Atlantic
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