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Album Review

Wale, 'Attention Deficit'

November 9, 2009

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Hip-Hop
Wale Attention Deficit
Interscope/Allido
ESSENTIAL: “World Tour’’

After mixtapes and high-profile cameos, it’s hard to believe this is the debut from Wale (pronounced wah-Lay). The Washington, D.C. rapper has been the most hyped MC in years and anointed as an artist who could save hip-hop from itself. Well, there’s no doubt that he delivers with a rigorous, intelligent set, but let’s not go overboard. “Attention Deficit’’ proves there’s still room for growth. There are so many songs that overflow with wit and introspection, that it’s pretty easy to dismiss the failures. The best tracks include the club-geared “World Tour’’ (it’s an obvious tip of the hat to A Tribe Called Quest) and “Shades’’ with Chrisette Michele, which shows off the MC’s narrative skills as it deals with relationships complicated by skin tone. The go-go inflected “Chillin’,’’ featuring Lady Gaga, never lets up. and lets Wale drop his best lines (“I remain a giant, you’re Jeremy Shockey’’). “Let It Loose,’’ with Pharrell, is taut and funky. The more meditative songs, “Contemplate’’ and “Diary,’’ show real depth. But do we really need another song about clueless, coke-addled Hollywood babes (“90210’’) or the silly, albeit hooky, “Pretty Girls’’? The production, by everyone from Mark Ronson to Cool & Dre, is as fluid and assured as the MC. (Out tomorrow)

KEN CAPOBIANCO