Wale Rocks the Stage at Minneapolis’ Fine Line, Sends Message to Booth Readers [Exclusive Coverage]
Minneapolis, MN -- On Sunday, clued-in hip-hop-lovers across the Twin Cities laced up their Nike Boots and headed out to the Fine Line Music Cafe to catch one of the hardest-working members of XXL's '08 Freshman 10 on his first visit to Minneapolis. The May 17th show was one of the last stops on Wale's Attention Deficit Tour, which began with an April 7th performance in Norfolk, Virginia and will end this Friday at Philly's Shadow Lounge.
Special guest Colin Munroe was unfortunately nowhere to be found, but local rap phenom Muja Messiah picked up the slack with hard-hitting renditions of cuts off his '08 debut album, Thee Adventures Of A B-Boy D-Boy, parodying Minnesotan stereotypes on the appropriately-titled "You Betcha," and serving up some fiery political rhetoric in an a cappella freestyle.
Though the 30-minute wait between sets left the the attendees restless, the atmosphere shifted dramatically when D.C.'s UCB Band took the stage, heralding the headliner's arrival with a blast of instrumental fanfare. As Wale made his grand entrance, decked out in a camouflage hoodie, the legendary Go-Go ensemble launched immediately into 100 Miles and Runnin' cut Breakdown, and the crowd burst instantly into motion. UCB frontman Tre took center stage for the next number, delivering a pitch-perfect rendition of Chrisette Michelle's hook on the Roots' Go-Go homage, "Rising Up." Tre would go on to handle hook duties throughout the show, notably filling in for Lady GaGa on Attention: Deficit lead single "Chillin'."
Wale broke up his set with entertaining banter, paying tribute to our state's musical greats ("Gotta get Bob Dylan on a record!") and covering hits by a few fellow up-and-comers--both his Minnesota-dedicated rendition of Drake's "Best I Ever Had," and his sexually-explicit spin on Kid CuDi's "Day N Nite" were crowd-pleasers. He even took a breather to autograph fans' own Nikes as his backing band delivered a much-needed lesson on the history of Go-Go (a D.C.-specific subgenre of funk centered around syncopated percussion), complete with covers of classic cuts by the Junkyard Band and E.U.
The emcee saved his most potent material for the end of the set; after an entertaining, impromptu lecture in which he advised listeners to give all musical genres a chance, Wale brought down the house with Justice-sampling single "W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E." Yet more sneakers were passed to the stage as he closed his set with the shoe-crazy cut we'd all been waiting for.
After the show, I headed backstage to to offer my compliments on the energetic performance, and get the inside scoop on Wale's debut LP. Describing what he hopes to accomplish with Attention: Deficit, the rapper stated, "It's designed for the normal human being, from a psychological aspect--like, Monday it's raining outside, and you feel like [tracks] six and seven and eight [help] you get through the day. Or Tuesday, it's sunny outside and you've got a date with a girl--one and eight are your favorite joints. But through the course of the week, every song is designed to be your favorite song."
Wale closed the interview with a special message for DJBooth.net readers: "Thank you for supportin' me. I hope to slowly win [over] everybody else who's not a believer yet, but if you do believe, I want to embrace you and give you a cyber-hug if you're a female, and dap you if you're a dude.... The album's comin' this summer, I love you all and appreciate your support!"