Last Night: Wale at House of Blues
Ralph Victor Folarin, known to his hip-hop fan base by pen name Wale, has just released a mixtape, titled after his surname: Folarin. Reviewers praise the new effort, saying it rounds the bend toward coming full circle back to Wale's lyrically quirky early efforts.
We agree; despite a litter of regrettably dumbed-down songs and albums dropped while lapping up the leftover limelight of Lord Rick Ross and his MMG minions, here Wale returns to lyrical fighting form on Folarin. His only changes are production; he swaps his trademark go-go clangs for African drums.
Wale must sense fans' appetite for the mixtape, since the majority of his show at the House of Blues Wednesday night served from that well-cooked roux of songs -- once he finally showed up to the venue.
"Make some noise if you're ready to see Wale!" shouted DJ Mr. Rogers at around 10 p.m., a phrase repeated by DJ 5'9 an hour later, to be repeated by opening act Black Cobain a little after that. Finally, at approximately 11:30, Wale did finally rush the stage, and the responses had turned from those initial screams into half-hearted cheers; it was nearing (most of our) bedtimes.
Ironically, the room's collective quiet created the perfect scenario for Wale's drop-kick show-starter: a lively performance of "Chun Li" from the new release. Stirred from their slumber, the crowd once again screamed for more, and Wale was ready to give it to them.
But not before a tiny technical tweak.
"These lights are too bright. This ain't a Broadway musical," the rapper shouted, nearly walking off the stage. With the "error" fixed, Wale finally felt comfortable enough into a couple more mainstream spins.
For the Folarin set of songs, a bass guitarist and drummer joined the DJ already onstage in what may be the greatest metaphorical example of what Wale is: a curious mix of substance and synthetics -- a pairing that doesn't always work, neither in Wale's music nor onstage.
But when it does, it congeals supremely, particularly during the rapper's performance of the "Rack City (Remix)," the infamous dirty-bass plucks of that song made even dirtier by the guitarist plucking them out onstage.