Southwest Washington D.C. native Olubowale Victor Akintimehin, also known by his stage name Wale, has been a popular hip hop artist in America since 2005 when he started his hip hop career and has been putting out hits consistently for over a decade. Wale’s nationality is American, but he has always honored and spoke highly of his Nigerian roots. Born to Nigerian parents with Yoruban roots in southwest Nigeria, Wale has always been surrounded by his Nigerian culture in his household. Wale holds a duality as an American hip hop artist, but always firstly represents himself as a Nigerian due to his cultural heritage.
In his most recent seventh studio album, Folarin II, he checks off all the boxes for another greatly assembled and produced hip hop album that intertwines his fresh lyricism, distinct flow, hard beats, and unique style. The overall theme of this album is to pay homage to an earlier era of his career, as Folarin is a nickname of Wale’s and was the title of his mixtape in 2012. Wale is now shining light on a project day one fans loved, while adding new additions and samples to Folarin that new audiences will appreciate. Showing love to his American, D.C. experience is a focus on this album, but Wale also represents his Nigerian roots in his song “Down South” featuring Yella Beezy and Maxo Kream (also known as Emekwanem Ogugua Biosah Jr., a Nigerian native)
In this song, he even flashes his Yoruba roots by using the phrase “Amin Jesu” [which means amen in Jesus name], in the context of this song. In light of paying homage to his earlier works, he also pays homage to his Yoruba roots by including this phrase in the song. Wale represents a “new breed” of the younger generations of Nigerians as he leads the way in showing there’s freedom of expression in the hip hop genre while still remaining true to your roots. Allowing your culture to shine even on an American platform with an American fan base is a reality and Wale represents that duality well in his career and his everyday persona. Wale holds the most important characteristic of a hip hop artist in my opinion and that’s authenticity.
Maintaining his American fan base and culture, while still recognizing and identifying his Nigerian background aids his perspective as a hip hop artist and as a relatable influence on the Rap community. Essentially being one of the first mainstream Nigerian rappers in the U.S. in combination with his huge success and award winning projects, it’s easy to lose sight of your origins, but Wale does a great job of owning his heritage and allowing it to flow through his music and influence his listeners