However, wale has been in the game for over a decade, and has made some much good music.
Meanwhile, he started out as Olubowale Victor Akintimehin, taking on Wale as his brand, out of his Nigerian roots.
With both parents from the Yoruba ethnic group in southwestern Nigeria, Wale is a direct product of cultural diversity mixed with a heavy influence from the go-go music scene in the DMV.
In 2018, Wale celebrates a new deal with Warner Bros. Records and releases two EP’s, Self-Promotion and It’s Complicated.
At 34, the rapper continues to live up to his stature in the mainstream and hip-hop realms alike.
In a recent interview with OkayAfrica Wale opens up on a lot about his background and his music.
As rappers, you are who you are.
That’s pretty much self-explanatory.
Both my parents are Nigerian. I grew up in a household of Nigerian culture.
I look at myself as a black man in America, but as a Nigerian first.
‘Cause that’s my blood, I’m 100% Nigerian.
Who were some of your biggest influences growing up?
Mostly athletes. Michael Jordan, Barry Sanders.
I played sports for like 14 years of my life.
I played American football, and ran track and played basketball.
As I got older, others like Michael Jackson and Jay-Z.
How did your Nigerian background shaped your sound and style?
I’ve always experimented with afrobeats and stuff like that.
I’ve always been in tune with what’s going on in Nigeria.
I’ve worked with a lot of Nigerian artists.
Which Nigerian artists do you look up to?
Fela Kuti, Sunny Ade, a lot of them.
We always used to dance to Shina Peters when we were young.
Our parents would always play it in the house when we were kids.
Are we going to see Nigerian Artistes on your upcoming project?
You’re always going to see Davido and me together.
That’s my dawg.
Him, Wizkid, Olamide,
I just did a song with Phyno.
Even Kwesta and Sampha,
I got love for South Africa.
I spread it.
Tell us about working with Olamide
He’s one of the fastest workers and one of the most dynamic writers I know in any genre.
He’s very, very talented.
I look up to him a lot in that sense.
The “Fine Girl” video is at over 4.4 million.
Did you think it would blow up like this?
Yes. [laughs] I mean, we know how to make a good song.
I’m not sure if my label that I was with at the time understood the influence of afrobeats on the culture,
but I think the people held us down.
How was working with Wizkid on “My Love”?
Wizkid and I have been working together for maybe over six or seven years now.
We have probably put out eight or nine songs together.
That was easy.
We were in the studio with Eric Bellinger one day, and we just cooked it up.
The music video for “Black Bonnie”is a tribute to black women all around the world
I write music.
I write whatever’s is on my mind.
If I’m looking at something, watching a movie, or whatever it was at the time, music is pieces of what you’re thinking about.
That’s where my mind was that day.
I always try to show love to our women, because they don’t get as much love as they deserve sometimes.
What were the African inspirations in the video?
That’s just a part of our history.
We were going through different time periods, different eras and different parts of our culture.
Just being African American on this planet from all walks of life, all parts of the country, from all parts of the world, all time periods.
How did you link with Ashley Blaine Featherson?
She’s from around the way.
She’s doing her thing on the Hollywood side.
I’m a big fan of her work.
She’s a very, very talented multi faceted black woman.
She rides for me.
She rides for me like I ride for her.
She’s a real one.
Do you plan to retire from the rap game?
I’ve been kind of thinking about doing other things.
See how it goes.
Only time will tell.
Why are you thinking of retiring from the rap game?
I think the people that follow my music really well, they know.
I drop a lot of clues in it.
I want to kind of leave that up for interpretation.
How has the journey in movies been thus far
Everything that you do in life is going to have roadblocks.
And real ones persevere.
Whatever I do decide to do, I hope that I don’t give up.
I just keep fighting. Keep trying.
If you were say to go into acting, will you still be making music?
Everything happens to fast in our culture right now, I wouldn’t be able to accurately tell you what’s next, and truly believe it.
There’s so many detours.
How has music been a form of therapy for you?
Music has been therapy, the music business has been the reason.
The cause of the problem, for real. But you know, I get through life by making music.
Tomorrow is another day.
Have you had to adapt to this new wave of trap and rap.
See, Gucci Mane was doing trap before I even came here.
I don’t think there’s anything to adapt to.
I’ve always been a very diverse MC.
Whatever type of genre or sub-genre, whatever you want to call it, I always work with someone that can finesse a record in my own way without compromising what I stand for.
What can fans expect from the upcoming project?
A wise man named Jermaine Cole told me once,
“You don’t have to tell people what to expect from your project because then they’ll feel like they’ve already heard it, before they’ve heard it.”
I kind of want to stay by that right now. Just enjoy the show.
When it comes out, you don’t know what to expect.
What’s been the best part of joining the Warner Records family?
Having a job. [laughs]
I mean, their staff is very friendly.
We all learn from each other.
It’s been a great experience to stand in my own shoes, I guess to say. Compared to Maybach Music, now I have a building that’s my own main space to experiment and try different things, which is always dope.
Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
Well, Michael Jackson. [laughs]
Dream collab now…
I really like H.E.R. I like Bryson Tiller.
I like Sade.
I’ve been dreaming for that, but since that would never happen…
You recently created winter ski gear that pays homage to your African roots. Any other ventures in the near future?
A few fashion collabs and definitely more acting.
Just honing in on more executive and business ventures outside of music.