Wale‘s The Gifted is essentially the rapper’s first album release as an established, mainstream hip-hop artist. His third album The Gifted features a number of notable features from some of hip-hop’s hottest, including Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J and 2 Chainz, as well as spots from female superstars Rihanna and Nicki Minaj. With that star power, this could be Wale’s biggest album era yet.
But in our review of The Gifted, we found Wale’s third studio album to be a mixed bag, giving it a 2.5/5, as it’s overloaded with tracks and is often too big for the rapper to tackle: “Wale could have seriously benefitted from some editing. The amount of truly well-developed, well-executed tracks here is in the single digits, hardly warranting 16 cuts of hit-or-miss beats and (on occasion) phoned-in verses.” However, the LP “still provides a handful of moments where his insouciant yet lucid flow syncs up expertly with a timeless patchwork beat of DC-inspired funk.”
While other music critics found The Gifted to be a solid effort, it’s certainly not without flaws. Head below to see our roundup of reviews.
:: HipHopDX was pleased with Wale’s end result: “Wale presents substance without being overly preachy, and still takes it back to the Go-Go for those who have been following him since Paint A Picture. While not without its flaws, those questioning the direction Wale was going post MMG affiliation will more than likely be pleased with The Gifted.”
:: PopMatters scored it an 8/10, calling it an “extraordinary ‘gift’ to any hip-hop collection” and praised the rapper’s lyrical abilities: “Perhaps it’s Wale’s ‘trill’ approach to his rhymes that establishes him as one of the present day’s most gifted rappers. Flowing with utmost agility and moxie, he never settles for meaningless lyrics. Wale always conveys an artistic, intellectualist mindset that is equally accessible.”
:: XXL applauds the rapper’s latest effort for finding the perfect balance: “Matching his lyrical abilities with polished production and radio-ready hooks, The Gifted sees Wale inching towards hip-hop’s upper echelon, while still exhibiting the hunger of a young MC on the rise. ‘Born to lose, built to win,’ he claims on ‘Heaven’s Afternoon.’”
:: All Music seemed impressed by the album, giving it 4/5 stars: “Besides being solidly built and not overstuffed at 16 tracks long, The Gifted is the fascinating sound of the life of the party growing up, and that’s as in ‘in the process,’ because there are still plenty of club bangers, strip-club jams and irresponsible moments, and all of them are welcome.”
:: amNewYork gave the album a mixed review stating: “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.”
:: Slant Magazine felt the rapper was often overshadowed by his guest features: “When he plays to his strengths on The Gifted, the results are impressive, but more mass-market tracks leave him sounding unoriginal and anonymous…These tracks find him either overwhelmed by flashier guests, like the dominating Nicki Minaj appearance which upends the woeful booty anthem ‘Clappers,’ or simply out of place, as with his collision with Ross and Ne-Yo on ‘Tired of Dreaming.’”