So far Wale has shown that he’s poised, skilled, magnetic, and shrewd, and those qualities will keep the paychecks coming for the foreseeable future. But is he interesting? As a savvy rapper who has neither a huge hit nor certifiable grassroots cred, he inspires the kind of will-he-or-won’t-he coverage that young NFL quarterbacks get. And as a sports nut, he probably enjoys it. But until Wale figures out how to be engrossing as an artist—as a truth-speaker–he’ll probably still be a man in search of a team. Here’s one positive sign: Although he Twitters like a wide receiver, you’ll never see him post any rhymes in that 140-character box. He saves them for the stage, where he’s an undeniable force, especially when backed by a band. And for two shows at the 9:30 Club, he’ll have UCB—the go-go crew that performed at MTV’s Video Music Awards–in his corner.
WALE PERFORMS AT 11:30 P.M. AT THE 9:30 CLUB, 815 V ST. NW. $10-$25. (202) 265-0930.