Wale at Baltimore Artscape | Review

Ed.’s Note: This review was originally posted at manswrites.blogspot.com.

BALTIMORE – Love and thou shalt be loved.  Sounds religious doesn’t it?  Then it’s fitting, because this was the overarching theme of Wale’s Sunday performance that closed Artscape 2010.

It was hotter than peanut oil as the crowd of college kids through thirty-somethings baked in the late afternoon sun.  While they waited, DJ Omega got the crowd involved by spinning some classic Jay-Z tracks, to which a sea of black, brown, and white arms threw up their “Dynasty Signs.”  He even payed homage to the hometown Baltimore fans by playing some of their native club music.  There were signs early on that this would be a good day for hip-hop.
“People act like the DMV don’t got love for each other,” Wale said after taking the stage about 20 minutes later than the scheduled 6:30 start.  He did his best to prove any naysayers wrong.  This day would see the DC representative bring two surprised, and seemingly amateur, camera men on stage to film a video.  Wale also led his security on a chase as he delivered on his pledge to perform some of the show from inside the massive crowd.

Wale set it off with “Mama Told Me,” from his freshman album Attention Deficit.  Showing instant approval, the audience raised their arms and swayed in time to the beat.  Die-hard fans got into his next track, “W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E.” off the 100 Miles & Running mixtape.  Backed by the DC go-go outfit, UCB, they closed the song with a “Smells Like Teen Spirit” riff that added a nice variation.  Wale did his best to display control and wordplay by spitting some of his final bars a capella and at top speed.  This was impressive, but his a capella flow lost its appeal when he did it again later in the show.

“I feel like doin’ something crazy,” Wale said, speculating that he would perform from a nearby staircase or inside the right half of the audience.  He did just that, running off of the stage and into the crowd with a few security guys behind.  Wale juked, and darted up a hill (to the crowd’s delight) leaving his security behind. The people swarmed as he engaged them in a call and response that was supposed to begin the next song – but the band missed his cue.  Wale brushed it off with a slight jab at his crew before they launched into one of his most popular songs to date, “Chillin’.” The energy was at a fever-pitch.

Returning to the stage, he said, “They told me not to talk about love, but I’m a lover.”  Then, a seated Wale performed his ode to young women and relationships, “Diary.”  Minus Marsha Ambrosius, Tre from UCB held him down on the vocals.

The show did a 180, as Wale brought out artists Fat Trel and Black Cobain to perform the riot-inciting, “Who Don’t.”  Billed as a family event, the Artscape crowd got a taste of a vintage hip-hop show, as several near-brawls broke out in the “mosh pit.”  The children in attendance were subject to some harsh curses and witnessed some pushing and shoving.  A few crowd surfers, were plucked from the mix by Baltimore’s finest, with a girl in a red tank top, getting hemmed up and cuffed just outside the venue.  Wale offered a warning to the young rowdies and Tre told them, “Calm down, this is a family event.” Things cleaned up some, but both the dope boys and trust-fund babies continued to enjoy themselves.

A brief lull occurred as Wale offered the album cuts, “Mirrors,” and “90210.”  Though decent songs, they just didn’t have the punch to sustain the energy he previously created.

“Everybody says B-more don’t got love for DC, and DC don’t got love for B-more, but nah.”  Wale did his best to dispel any long-brewing tensions between the neighboring cities.  As relatively small markets for hip-hop, both places should understand the other’s story better than most.  Wale did show love to the females, as he ushered some groupies-in-training onto the stage before UCB did their single, “Sexy Lady.”

Showing his backpacker roots, Wale spent a few minutes of the show pleading with local radio for them to give him, “At least one spin a day.”  He asked if any program directors were in the house so they could tell him exactly what they wanted to hear on the radio.  Wale said that what he envisioned on the radio was the next song he would perform, “Beautiful Bliss.”  Also from Attention Deficit, the album version features artists J. Cole and Melanie Fiona.  Wale closed the show with another freestyle, then the popular, go-go inspired “Pretty Girls.”  The show came too a screeching halt as a result of poor time management.  Wale asked if the crowd wanted one more song, as a fat man with white hair stormed onto the stage signaling that it was a wrap.

Throughout the show, Wale was conversational, funny, and honest.  Despite the late start, some sound issues, and a few periods that lacked emotion, the MC gave a solid performance.  Delivered with truth and in the spirit of love, what more can you ask for on a Sunday?

Performance photos courtesy of http://jasonlogangraves.com

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4 Responses to “Wale at Baltimore Artscape | Review”
  1. vigoronline says:

    Good observations Mr. Jones. Wale is an underrated lyricist. “Goin’ after the green—Rocksteady, Bebop.” Wale, “The MC”

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