Wale – Back to the Feature Mixtape Review

Posted on June 23, 2009 by


When talking about the new mixtape, Wale called it “a rapping tape.” He said that his early mixtapes were just a young him trying to get heard, Mixtape About Nothing was proving he could do a concept tape and 100 Miles and Runnin’ was him being a little crazy. Back to the Feature is by far the best of his tapes, and does not disappoint any notion of a rapping tape. Anyone who may have been worried that Wale was becoming too pop upon hearing the single for his album (although I was never worried) need not look further than BTTF for proof he can still bring it.

Beats: 9th Wonder! I don’t really need to say anything else about the beats because when 9th Wonder’s name is attached you know it is going to be dope. That being said, I will expand a little bit. I didn’t recognize it during my listens, but I have read that the beats that Wale used are not all brand new 9th Wonder stuff. But that doesn’t really make a difference to me personally because it is not like they are 9th Wonder flops that no one wanted. Even if they come from some of 9th’s beat tapes, they are incredibly sick and Wale alon g with his features know what to do with them. He makes all types of songs by using his guests and choruses to set the tone for the type of song. This tape took a long time to put out, mostly because Wale was touring and couldn’t put the finishes touches on it, but I think that the extra time gave him time to plan it out even better. Every beat is strategically chosen and placed, and while I do not know Wale’s actual reasons, each song makes sense to me too. Aside from the Chillin (Catch vs. 9th) remix, I think that every single beat on the tape is nice and on point. It is well produced and carries the lyrics throughout.

Lyrics: Wale’s lyrics are what make his music so enjoyable to me; his word play and metaphors are usually clever and impressive. If you listen to his music, you have probably realized that Wale is a huge sports fan; he references an incredible amount of sports and not just the most popular players. I have definitely caught references to NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, track and field, college sports and even ESPN commentators (*cough* Skip Bayless *cough*). I think Wale keeps up his lyricism and proves that he definitely has something to bring to the table in the hip-hop game. I will give an example of some of his lyrics that I personally loved, but there are great lines on each and every song. “The war’s in the form of poetry/ so its straight c4 from the thoughts I bring/ bang! epiphany/ these n****s is gimmicks to me/ I can eradicate a village if you give me a beat/ I’m that bomb when I hand write/ play me for a stepping stone, then, I land mine.” His ability to maintain the metaphor of poetry and words being weapons and war is incredible. He uses double meanings of words such as land mine (getting his own vs. an explosive landmine), all the while rhyming AA for 6 bars then BB for another 2. Not to mention they are not simple rhymes, ending the line with a multi-syllabic phrase many times throughout. And as if Wale’s ability wasn’t enough, this mixtape has more sick features than most people can get on an album. The co-signs from the likes of known greats such as: Freeway, Talib Kweli, Joe Budden, Black Thought, Jean Grae, Royce Da 5’9” and Bun B shows much respect for Wale. He also brings fellow young’uns: Skyzoo, Young Chris, Curren$y, K’naan and Big Sean. No matter what type of hip-hop you like, someone from that style is contributing to this mixtape somewhere.

Overall: On the song Tito Santana Wale subtitles the mixtape “N****s just be rappin’” and I can definitely attest to that. Wale just finished a tour throughout the US and he hasn’t even released an album yet! As I said earlier, for anyone who was afraid he was becoming too pop, this tape proves he can hang with anyone on the track. I did not go into as much detail on a song-by-song basis because I think that across the board, all of the tracks are great and they go very well with each other when it is played all the way through. This tape has many different types of songs and sounds, making Wale’s different influences very evident. There are pop-infused songs featuring artists like Mike Posner, Daniel Merriweather, Duffy and Yael Naim. But Wale travels with a band named UCB and the impact that growing up in the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) and listening to Go-Go has had on him can be heard on Night Life & Sweatin Out Weaves. Even with “soft” type songs, I think a level of credibility and expectations are met throughout the tape and should be enjoyed until we finally do have Attention Deficit (Wale’s soon to be released studio album). While the album is in no way perfect:

Back to the Feature – downlo@d

Posted in: Reviews