Album Review: Wale's 'The Gifted' -- 2.5 stars
In a post-“Yeezus” world, it’s easy to forget that other hip-hop records continue to be released on a regular basis by talented artists. “The Gifted” is the third album from Wale, the peripatetic D.C. rapper who has steadily ascended from an unsigned mixtape prodigy known for clever pop culture insights to current major-label staple, and its Costco-sized quantity of lush, contemplative soul has a soothing feel compared with West’s acidic id cleanse. Wale has always had reasonably eclectic taste, as evidenced here by the Tears for Fears hook on the ambivalent fame anthem “Vanity,” but “Gifted” seems hindered by safe choices, from the top-tier producers to the lineup of guests, including Cee-Lo on the clean-lined stepping track “Gullible” and Nicki Minaj on the up-tempo “Clappers,” a blunt club cut about ample ladies that rings especially hollow. The squirming gut-punch of “Rotation” with Wiz Khalifa and 2 Chainz sounds ported in from a darker, more interesting album, and lead single “Bad (Remix)” feels more like a Rihanna track featuring Wale, but such is the power of the Barbadian star’s blank charisma.