Arts Desk

The Breaks: Last Week’s Hip-Hop Happenings

This installment of the Breaks features theatrics in the DMV hip-hop scene as Wale once again lands in the middle of Internet beef. (He didn’t start it.) On a lighter note, we've also got a GoldLink remix and new music from Fatz Da Big FellaJay IDK, and Dunson. 

#UNOTMMG
There were post-holiday fireworks within the Maybach Music Group camp last week as mercurial Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill sent shots at D.C.’s own Wale last Tuesday.

Meek Mill announced that his upcoming album, Dreams Worth More Than Money, will be released on September 9, and took offense to Wale's lack of tweets about it. Despite the fact that this practice of group promotion is standard procedure within the MMG ranks, his anger came off a bit petty. (He has much bigger problems to worry about right now, anyway.) It’s yet another instance of Internet drama that catches Wale at its center, though, this time around, he did nothing to warrant it. His response, which was posted to his Instagram account, showed a maturity typically absent when the hot-blooded rapper is provoked:

"...I wrote a long ass post day before his single dropped .. Mariah record dropped nobody said a word I didn't care .. I still don't... I carry myself with confidence and humility ., I always try to have a lighter side to MMG.. Cuz I understand I don't "fit the mold" so if I'm tryna spruce an interview up to show that we not tryn be "serious tough guys" on the red carpet Or try to be a bit more engaging to broaden our audience forgive me . I never wanted anybody to think we take ourselves THAT serious. (Were rappers )I don't need to take anybody shine.. Or hate on anybody . I walk in a completely different world .. Where I look for slp jeans and Shanghai dunks online and know what "kayfabe" means. I check nbadraft.net daily . I'm on whatculture allll day I enjoy shyt like that. I play fuckin Zelda and fuck wit bitches who teach yoga and paint... I get it . I'm different . I always embrace that shyt...I write poems . I watch wwe . I collect kicks. I'm sensitive ok. Maybe bi polar. But one thjng I'm not is a hater..."

I’d long suspected that Meek Mill wasn’t fond of Wale, just by looking at his facial expressions when Wale spoke during group interviews, and this incident all but confirmed it. This public spat is less about tweets (or the lack thereof) than it is about the unspoken divide growing  between Wale and MMG. It’s not that Wale has a problem with anyone on the label, it’s that he, along with laid-back Ohio rapper Stalley, are nothing like label head Rick Ross, Meek Mill, and another recent local addition who's poised for stardom, Fat Trel. At the beginning of "Critically Acclaimed," released at the end of 2008 before he signed to Interscope records, Wale says "In a room full of goons, I’m such a fuckin’ standout." This assertion is precisely why much of his core fan base was perplexed when he signed to MMG in early 2011.

The upside of this spat is that it’s compelled Wale to share some of the new music he’s been working on. The day the theatrics took place, he leaked a new song titled "The Followers." Produced by Pro Reeze and Marce Reazon, it revives the feeling of The Mixtape About Nothing, Seinfeld sample and all. Fans yearning for the "old Wale," or at least a happy medium between that and post-MMG Wale, should feel comfortable with the Album About Nothing's release.

While Tuesday’s conflict has certainly raised questions about Wale’s future with MMG (his career got the CPR it needed three years ago—does he really need to be there?), his next album will be the most important of his career because it has the potential to shape the rest of it. When he joined forces with MMG three years ago, the move was mutually beneficial—Wale got a second chance, while MMG got an artist that deviated from their norm. In 2014, he’s a Grammy nominee with a chart-topping album whose new music appears to be reverting back to where it began.

Also, because Wale is a diehard sports fan and LeBron James shocked the world by returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers after four seasons and two NBA titles with the Miami Heat, feel free to make reckless connections at will.

A GoldLink Remix
Producers aywy. and Fortune crafted the official remix of GoldLink’s "Ay Ay," the opening track from his The God Complex debut. Like the original, it’s perfect zone-out music.

Fatz Da Big Fella
Fatz Da Big Fella, whom you should recognize from Wale’s "Let a Nigga Know," released his sophomore project, Fatz Sinatra, this week. In his signature baritone, Fatz touches on traditional hip-hop motifs with features from the likes of Folarin himself, French Montana, Shy Glizzy, Phil Adé, and Tone P.

Meet Jay IDK
I was exposed to some new hip-hop blood recently: Maryland rapper Jay IDK. The title of his Eddie Vanz-featured "Two Hoes" might offend some listeners, but if you can get past that, you’ll be mesmerized by his staccato flow and Noo$e’s hypnotic, video game-esque production.

The Frustration of Being Overlooked
Maryland's Dunson, the nine-to-five drone turned rapper, endeared himself to every artist who's dealt with the frustration of knowing they have the talent to warrant accolades, but remain overlooked—and broke. Produced by Dunson and Phatboiz, "Broke Ass Dope Ass Rapper" speaks to the struggle of dreaded Megabus trips, hopping turnstiles in New York and barely having the money to pay your rent. He also makes an astute observation about the term "struggle rap": "I think it's funny that they call it 'struggle rap'/That's where the fuck rap came from." How quickly people forget. Look out for Outlier, coming soon.

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