Wale Goes Back To His Nike Boots Roots (Video)
It’s hard to believe it was seven years ago that Wale burst on the scene with “Nike Boots.” Released in 2007 and distributed in ’08, the powerful moment that mixed substance and style was the ultimate vehicle that made the MC from the DMV catch the ear of Mark Ronson, and become his flagship artist in the Allido/Interscope Records distribution deal. Nearly two years later, Attention: Defecit hit stores. That single disguised its message as swagger, and Heads in the know paid close attention.
A lot has changed in the span of “Nike Boots” ’til tomorrow’s (March 31) Album About Nothing. Wale left Ronson, left Interscope, and found his mainstream success thanks to Rick Ross, Maybach Music Group, and Atlantic/Warner’s push. Always eclectic, Wale found the clubs, and gained the clout, the sound, and the #1 status that alluded him in the first decade of the ’00s. According to some, with that came beefs (Kid Cudi), tantrums (Complex magazine incident), and other ego-driven moments that eclipsed some of the art.
Notably, Album About Nothing is a callback to some qualities in Wale from the early days. Heads forget, but ’08’s Mixtape About Nothing (with Fool’s Gold Records’ Nick Catchdubs) was a showstopping turning point for the MC. Two more “Seinfeld”-themed tapes, and Wale’s devoting his fourth studio album to the hit 1990s series created by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David.
In that step, those early ’07-’08 moments are creeping back in. “White Sneakers” may take a cue from Jerry’s character wardrobe (and personal significance) on TV, but it’s very real. The song, and it’s related video look at the sacrifice that goes into sneaker culture—an irony of working hard to have crisp white shoes that show no marks of labor. Race, materialism, greed, and lust all creep into the song and video, as Wale clearly looks at the metaphors of color, the predatory consumerism, and the streets that prey on kids (including him back in the day) in top-dollar sneaks. The video, edited for Revolt, does the same.
Is Wale back in step with his many talents of the late 2000s?