Wale’s first album, Attention Deficit, was extremely slept on. It had great production, it was original and it was an even balance of introspection and fun… in my opinion. But, of course, a lot of people don’t share the same opinion as me. Besides, I was outside of Best Buy along with a crowd of people waiting to get their hands on Call of Duty Mordern Warfare 2 on the day of his debut. Attention Deficit was the beginning of a spirally slope for Ralph Folarin. The album was under-shipped and probably the cause of his disappointing sales. Fast forward to 2011 and Wale is now affiliated with Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group.
As a Wale fan, I was nothing less than nervous when he signed to MMG. Considering the fact that the biggest song of his career was “No Hands” and the biggest song on his album featured Gucci Mane, I assumed Wale felt defeated and desperate to bounce back. I expected nothing but trunk music with content based on strippers, weed and tattoos.
Ambition drops and well………. I was kinda right. You won’t find any clever concepts like “90210” or any introspective content like “Shades” on this album. This is one of the project’s bigger flaws. The heads appreciated Wale for songs like “The Eye of The Tiger” or “Ice and Rain.” Instead, Wale took a more shallow route this time around. The DC emcee was obviously more focused on selling his album than he was on putting together quality work. It was said that Attention Deficit didn’t flow together like an album. You can say the same with Ambition. The album is split in half with joints for the ladies and songs about how underrated Wale is.
1. “Don’t Hold Your Applause” (Produced by Tone P)
The album starts with Wale demanding praise. My first thought was”Hey! This sounds like it could have been on A Mixtape About Nothing.” Wale basically touches base on where he has been and where he thinks he is. Not a bad way to start the album.
2. “Double M Genius” (Produced by Mark Henry)
This track was placed after “Don’t Hold Your Applause” perfectly. The instrumental keeps the same feeling going and Wale is still stressing his point about being underrated. Wale spits a few clever punches like “A modern day Goodfella, I’m Ray Liotta/Loud smoking so pass the L like a semi-colon.” This is vintage Wale music. The references to sports and shoes and Vic repeating his name dozens of times brings me back to those 100 Miles and Running days.
3. “Miami Nights” (Produced by Mark Henry)
Mark laces Wale for my favorite tracks on the album. Wale is assisted by random grunts here and there from Rick Ross as he paints a picture of the nightlife on South Beach. I could definitely see this being a single, eventually. If you’ve never been to Miami this joint will make you want to go.
4. “Legendary” (Produced by DJ Toomp)
There wasn’t much effort put into the hook on this joint. With that and a much darker feel in the production it’s almost unbearable to listen to this in it’s entirety. Much like Don’t Hold Your Applause, Wale still feels the need to defend his ability to rhyme and says that thinks he’s “literally top mmmm… and I’m being generous.” Ok, Wale.
5. “Lotus Flower Bomb” featuring Miguel (Produced by Jerrin Howard)
*Sigh* I mean… He needed a single and “Bad Girl’s Club” wasn’t about to work.
6. “Chain Music” (Produced by Tone P)
Wale flips the bliss of ignorance. Coming up with a conclusion of your opinion on this joint in the first minute could lead to embarrassment. I could easily see someone saying “There he goes selling out. Rapping about chains over a trunk beat.” Totally missing the point. You can’t front on homie’s wit to pull off a joint like this one.
7. “Focused” featuring KiD CuDi (Produced by Kore)
I just don’t understand this song. I mean, I get the concept and that’s cool but the beat and the hook are just too much for me to even enjoy the song. You can’t create chemistry over gmail. I feel like if both artists were together in the studio the song would have turned out much better. I also think that Wale was just desperate to show the fans that CuDi “fucks with him musically.”
8. “Sabotage” featuring Lloyd (Produced by Cloud Eater)
Lloyd sounds dope with the live band sound. It’s a joint for the ladies but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling it. Wale proves that he is serious about this No Days Off movement. His voice was nearly gone when he recorded this joint. Must have been after this phone call.
9. “White Linen” featuring Ne-Yo (Produced by Deputy)
From Rick Ross to Fabolous you can’t go wrong getting a hook from Ne-Yo. It’s a different sound for Wale. Ne-Yo singing about being large and in charge gives me the feeling that this may have been a Ross throwaway. Too bad we couldn’t have got this joint a few months ago when it was a little warmer outside. This is definitely top back music.
10. “Slight Work” featuring Big Sean (Produced by Diplo)
Instead of “Chillin’” you get “Slight Work.”
11. “Ambition” featuring Meek Mill & Rick Ross (Produced by T-Minus)
When I saw the title on the track list I assumed that it was going to be a song about girls who go to college and don’t go to clubs. I’m glad I was wrong.The beat is a little harder than what we’re use to from Wale but he is a accompanied by Ross and Meek Mill so he gets a pass. As Meek and Ross speak on why they became drug lords Wale speaks directly to his opposition.
12. “Illest B****” (Produced by Tha Bizness)
Tha Bizness laces Wale with a dope beat to help him simp a little more on the album. Nice instrumental but this is were we could have used a “Shades” or “Diary.” I mean Lotus Flower Bomb, Sabotage, White Linen, Slight Work and now this. We are all simped out at this point of the album.
13. “No Days Off” (Produced by DJ Toomp)
I remembered Wale talking about how hard he worked on “Don’t Hold Your Applause,” “Double M Genius,” “Legendary” and “Ambition.” We’re starting to get a little repetitive in content. After a few more listens I don’t know what Wale was talking about on this song.
14. “DC Or Nothing” (Produced by Tone P)
Here Wale puts on for DC. This is what “Uptown Roamers” sounds like after Wale made progression. I’m not even a DC native and I appreciate this track. Black Cobain appears to spit a few bars at the very end. If the album ended right here I wouldn’t have been mad at all. What better way to go out than repping your hometown?
15. “That Way” featuring Jeremih & Rick Ross (Produced by Lex Luger)
This song was smooth all summer long but after hearing it on Self Made and Eleven One Eleven Theory I feel like it has ran it’s course. I understand that it’s a big record and they are trying to push it as far as it can go but I’m pretty sure that “That Way” met it’s peak a few months ago.
16. “Bait” (Produced by Tone P)
The originality in “Bait” is unmatched. Wale finally got his own club banger. I have yet to hear it in the club but I could pretty much guarantee that I will be sweating and going hoarse when I do. The hard beat and repetitive hook is meshed with DC slang and braggadocios lyrics.
Above is the official track list order. Below is how I listen to Ambition.
1. “Don’t Hold Your Applause”
2. “Double M Genius”
3. “Miami Nights”
4. “Miami Nights”
5. “Miami Nights”
7. “Chain Music”
8. “Chain Music”
10. “White Linen”
13. “Illest B****”
14. “No Days Off”
15. “DC or Nothing”