“Ambition is the desire to be better than the people who came before you. It’s your obsession to be good or great. How great is your obsession to chase your dream?”–Wale
Wale says that his career should have never gotten to this point. Hip-hop’s hottest newcomer in 2008, Wale had amassed a strong fan base after releasing five acclaimed mixtapes and signing a lucrative deal with Interscope Records.
However, his pre-debut performance did not translate into high record sales or a top charting single. Attention Deficit infamously sold 28,000 copies during the first week of its release and his most notable single came during his appearance as a featured guest on Waka Flocka’s hit, “No Hands.”
Rick Ross recognized Wale’s potential and signed him to his record label, Maybach Music Group. His association with Rick Ross increases his visibility and offers a new opportunity, but the pressure remains on Wale. With a queen game piece in hand, here’s his approach to locking down the checkmate.
Before the release of your first album, you built an impressive buzz for yourself. So what caused the album to fail to meet the high expectations?
I put that on myself to get back to where I need to be. We’re working. I do music for my fans and family. My fans appreciated my first album. But my label didn’t ship it for whatever reason. I re-evaluated my life and my situation and now I’m in a different place. I found out a lot of artists can’t go to a city and do a show with 2,000 people. I’m blessed to have people who appreciate what I do.
When did Rick Ross reach out to you?
The Maybach Music Group deal came about when I was a free agent. I look at Rick Ross as more than an artist. I didn’t sign to be a side kick, I want to be an artist and do what I’m capable of doing musically. Ross let’s me do that. He’s the boss at the label, but he’s not bossing me around.
So what is the biggest difference in being at MMG vs. being at Interscope?
The difference is freedom. I’m very in tune with urban culture. I felt my last situation wasn’t allowing me to grow with the urban culture. They saw a Lady Gaga opportunity and I went with it. I was a new artist and I didn’t get it. I thought I was being ignored by black America. It’s not as much money, but to connect with the people I grew up with is more important than connecting with pop fans. Even the white people who are familiar with my music deserve to hear what I’m really saying. I shouldn’t be marketed toward top 40. When I listen to my first album, you can hear who I am talking to. But I now have an opportunity to change that.
read the rest of the interview on rollingout