(Atlantic/Maybach Music Group)
The vintage, self-professed “new black soul” on Wale’s new album, The Gifted, make it stand out as one of the most unforgettable albums released this year. Setting the tone on the first track, “The Curse of the Gifted,” the immediate layering of rhythm and blues keys and explosive percussion are easily alluring. Wale’s rap delivery only continues to move effortlessly, stylishly glossy and moving against a rhythmic stream of conscious awareness while a fiery electric guitar background riff mesmerizes. Hailing from Washington, D.C., Wale has long been a local hero. Through a series of hits and chart-toppers, he has only continued to recertify his brilliance; The Gifted just continues to elevate it. Sam Dew’s vocals are reminiscent of classic Marvin Gaye on the hit track, “LoveHate Thing,” while “Sunshine” carries on that more soulful dynamic. The Gifted features artists such as Nicki Minaj and Juicy J on the club-ready, booty-shake of “Clappers.” Ne-Yo and Rick Ross are featured on the sensual bedroom push of “Tired of Dreaming,” an homage to Wale’s idea of the perfect woman. “Rotation” moves stoically with the help of Wiz Khalifa and 2 Chainz as it falls back into a hazy headspace. Quite possibly one of the summer’s biggest hits and with the mainstream introduction of singer/songwriter/guitarist Tiara Thomas, the single “Bad” describes an ultimate bad girl who “won’t commit.” The lusty lower register vocals and squeaky bed effect against acoustic guitar went certified gold. Interestingly enough another feature on The Gifted is comedian Jerry Seinfeld on the outro, “About Nothing,” introducing another upcoming Wale project.