Wale has remained a constant voice in hip hop since first rising to prominence in 2006 for his single “Dig Dug.” However, in 2019’s “Wow… That’s Crazy,” the Nigerian-American rapper takes a new approach to his classic style, interjecting more personality than ever before. The provocative title, which emulates the common response to hearing a particularly moving story, is tactically placed, considering that Wale discussing his worldview and aspects of life that weigh on him are at the forefront of this project.
Fans of the artist may know that since his last project’s release, Wale has dealt with a number of personal issues, some of which he highlighted in a post on Twitter; he claimed to have lost over a million dollars, close friends, and his own sanity since putting out his last body of work.
“I been an open book to y’all on here for better or worse .. I been through so much since my last project . . . I lost over an M on some legal stuff. I lost friends and almost my sanity. But y’all held this thing together . . .” the rapper tweeted.
On top of this, the release of the album coinciding with World Mental Health Day is no accident. Wale has always been an open advocate for mental health causes, even going as far as saying that he believes record labels should include aid for artist’s mental health in their contracts, citing his own mental struggle in between albums.
With all of these factors aside, the DMV lyricist delivered a project that shines even brighter than the positive message he seeks to convey. The album opener, “Sue Me,” gives a solid precursor for what is to come for the next 54 minutes, where the rapper grapples with his own fame and purpose in life while including undertones of his racial vantage point. On the following “Love Me Nina/Semiautomatic,” lines such as “We just want to be black and legendary/Be us and be proud by any means necessary” further emphasize that point, which is an underlying concept throughout the entire project. Just like mental health, Wale is no stranger to advocating heavily for racial issues.
Aside from his relationship with himself and the world as a black male, Wale also discusses the complex nature of modern relationships. With a carefully placed assist from R&B staple Jeremiah on “On Chill,” Wale sets the tone for a relationship that is stuck in constant turmoil and seeking peace amongst the madness. He further comments on the influence of social media in interpersonal relationships and how easy it is to develop trust issues today.
Of course, it’s not all lamenting. Songs such as “Set You Free” show the artist taking responsibility for his issues and actively taking steps to combat them. Overall, “Wow… That’s Crazy” shows a softer side of the veteran MC fans may have never been exposed to before. With a star-studded list of features including Meek Mill, Jacquees, Megan Thee Stallion and Ari Lennox, Wale creates a masterful loom of a story that accurately reflects the life of someone in the limelight struggling to get grips on the light that exists within themselves.
4 out of 5 stars