Wale - SHINE
Wale has been a bit of an enigma for some time. He is hugely talented, has a stable of hits and has a pedigree that should damn near guarantee super stardom. But, Wale always seems to just miss when it comes to his albums leaving fans scratching their heads. This new record SHINE though feels like the first time we are getting a comfortable and relaxed Wale. He doesn't seem frantic for recognition anymore instead more settled, letting the music speak for itself, and speak it does. Lil Wayne brings one of his best features in years on "Running Back" and stripped of almost all autotune Wayne's full voice has never been more welcome. The first few tracks on the album feel much more R&B than they do Hip Hop, but the rapping brings them up to an totally different level. Wale's flow simply spills from him in perfect sync with whichever beat He happens to be playing with. It seems like becoming a father in the rap game these days usually means your best record is right around the corner, and SHINE is no different. There is definitely far less edge to this album than Wale has had in the past with "My Love", which features Major Lazer, being one of the more aggressively sweet tracks. There is a fine line where you make a super positive hip hop song that connects and one that is bright just to be bright and "My Love" is really the later. There are times where this approach pays off and the song soars and other times where the positivity feels somewhat out of place.
"Colombia Heights (Te Llamo)" finds a really great balance being part latin, part hip hop and a really great deep beat. The album is also really refined having very little fat. It makes the almost hour run time just fly by and each song is just as exciting as the last. "CC White" ends on this amazing scratching run that brings in a classic feature of hip hop that rarely gets celebrated anymore and manages to sound totally modern and exhilarating. Wale brings in massive features with the previously mentioned Lil Wayne, G-Eazy and Travis Scott and manages to bring out the best in each adding them to songs which really suit their strengths. If you are looking for something hard, or a banger that is just powerful and undeniable this is not going to be the record for you, Wale is just taking this in a totally different direction than that. That is perhaps the one thing that you have to get over in order to really enjoy this record, but once you get on board it is quite nice. Maybe Wale grew up, maybe becoming a father changed him or maybe ten years in Wale is finally finding a sound that fits him; either way SHINE is his best album to date and one not to miss.
8.0 out of 10