On Folarin, Wale bounces through the mainstream rap universe, sampling the talents of his peers and giving fans the occasional flashes from his past needed to keep getting minutes from Coach Rozay.
By underground and mainstream standards, he "made it." So is his new purpose to continue seeking inspiration and exploring his own creative limits? Or should he stay in his lane and just keep the hustle alive for as long as possible? Folarin is not a definite swerve in either direction, but it certainly justifies one more strong push from the Maybach Music Group mothership.
His helter skelter flow and intricate rhyme patterns are a return to his essence that will satisfy fans of his early mixtapes. But it was much more interesting when he was planting the seeds of hipster-meets-hood swag rap in the late 2000s. Now it comes off as solid survival tactics at best, and a reach for relevance at worst.
"Let's Start the Show" starts things off as we've come to expect from Wale, lethargically. Beat Billionaire provides the Bay Area bounce that will certainly shape 2013's soundscape. 2 Chainz updates us with a solid collection of quotables for Twitter and Instagram and reworking the Cortex sample "Huit Octobre 1971" that birthed MF DOOM 's classic "One Beer" was refreshing when Wiz did it in 2010 on Kush & OJ.
The mixtape's strong, but it's all predictable. How does this project stand next to the recent efforts of Big Sean, Fabolous, French Montana and his other contemporaries? It suggests we've seen the end of Wale's ambition and the birth of his legacy.
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