Being the child of immigrant parents issues in an immediate dual consciousness that link the home you know with a land you may never experience the same way as your parents before you. This is a lifestyle that Grammy nominated rapper Wale knows well. Born Olubowale Victor Akintimehin, he grew up in the DMV with his Nigerian (specifically Yoruba) parents. It was his influences from home, the thriving go-go culture in the DMV, and his own personal experiences that have developed his sound and placed him in a musical class of his own. With features on club anthems like “No Hands” and delivering endearing bars on songs like “Lotus Flower Bomb” he has established a unique flow that keeps him in the game today.
With all the success he has amassed working with artists domestically, he also has strong ties to the music scene in what he considers his home, Nigeria. Stating in an interview, “I look at myself as a Black man in America, but as a Nigerian first.” He has made songs with prominent artists in Nigeria including Davido and Olamide such as “Fine Girl“. He also keeps up close friendships with other Nigerian artists outside of musical collaboration. Having this sense of himself and the multiple cultures feeding into his close proximity he is able to deliver a unique sound that continues to develop. He leans heavily into the exploration of afrobeats and the common threads running through hip hop in the US and Nigeria. He commits to having representations of Black women in his music videos and leans away from more stereotypical imagery in his videos as well.
Getting his start on the streets of DC, he is a strong advocate for go-go music and its preservation in a trap heavy culture. He was seen just this week standing in protest with DC residents fighting the silencing of the famous “go-go corner” in DC’s Shaw neighborhood. A common thread of hip hop in Africa is the political messaging, and he carries out this messaging in his music and community engagement.
On the radio today you can hear him on Pole Dancer ft. Megan Thee Stallion: