In September of 2019, Wale fans might recall his interest in NPR’s popular Tiny Desk series, which he revealed via Twitter that he’d never been invited to perform on despite the fact he lived a mere “20 minutes” away from the radio company’s D.C. office.
His wishes would be granted one month later in October of 2019 when NPR added him to the lineup for their four-night concert series, Tiny Desk Fest. But his inclusion didn’t come without some initial concern from the poetic rap favorite over how he would recast his music to fit Tiny Desk’s signature stripped down setup.
Speaking to NPR’s Bobby Carter, Wale relayed some advice that fellow MC J. Cole imparted unto him before his set to help quell his nerves: “He told me to just do my thing, but I wish I had more time to work this set out.”
On Tuesday (Jan. 21), NPR finally released the D.C.-bred rapper's full 28-minute-long debut performance on Tiny Desk. Wale alerted his fans on Twitter, where he announced, “and finally we have a Tiny Desk.”
Judging by its rave reviews and his marvelous performance, it seems Wale had nothing to worry about after all.
Backed by go-go band Tre and The Ppl (Wale’s home team touring band), Wale performed a six-song medley of his fan-favorite hits, all chronologically arranged to follow the trajectory of his career. He started with the definitive song that helped to landmark his mainstream upswing: “Lotus Flower Bomb.”
As you’ll recall, the single, which comes from the rapper’s sophomore studio LP, Ambition, went on to be nominated for a Grammy and peaked at No. 21 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
He then segued to his next pair of deep cuts, “LoveHate Thing” and “CC White,” followed by the D.C.’s go-go classic gem, “Sexy Lady,” before he closed out the set with his newest tracks “Sue Me” and “On Chill” from his recent album release, Wow...That’s Crazy.
Based on fans' reactions to Wale’s Tiny Desk performance, it was well worth the wait. You can watch his performance in full below.
(Photo: Mindy Small/FilmMagic)