Review Roundup: Wale – ‘Attention Deficit’

Wale will have hip-hop fans’ undivided attention when his long-awaited album Attention Deficit drops tomorrow. Did the D.C. rapper’s debut also grab the attention of critics? Find out below.

Entertainment Weekly: Attention Deficit is marred by intermittent efforts to conform to a misogynist mainstream-rap blueprint. It’s hard to hear such an unusual talent suppressing the very qualities that make him worth paying attention to. B

Rolling Stone: On his 2008 Mixtape About Nothing, this D.C. rapper had the guts to set self-examining rhymes to Seinfeld samples. There’s nothing so admirably weird on his debut. Wale instead fashions himself Kanye East, a mix of aspiration and anger, given to jazzy moralizing à la the Roots yet not above tapping Lady Gaga for the single “Chillin’.” 3 out of 5

The Boston Globe: The best tracks include the club-geared “World Tour” (it’s an obvious tip of the hat to A Tribe Called Quest) and “Shades” with Chrisette Michele, which shows off the MC’s narrative skills as it deals with relationships complicated by skin tone. The production, by everyone from Mark Ronson to Cool & Dre, is as fluid and assured as the MC.

The New York Times: Attention Deficit would have been more impressive if it were Wale’s first nationwide exposure. But the mixtapes, with their low-budget production but far-reaching rhymes, now testify to how much Wale decided to conform.

The Washington Post: It’s a stellar offering from a wildly gifted rapper, but almost predictably, Wale’s feelings are mixed. By the end of his 14-track, big-league debut, Wale sounds nothing less than harried, hustling to please the gods of Billboard, radio, MTV, the blogosphere, and his home town.

Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “Mirrors,” “Pretty Girls,” “World Tour,” “90210,” “Chillin'”