Seems like anyone can be a rapper nowadays, but it takes a special talent to carry a whole city on your back. Twenty-two-year-old D.C. native Olubawale Victor Folarin - better known as Wale--can do just that.
Charismatic, lyrical, extra clever and super determined, Wale has found a way to bridge the gap between his city's beloved go-go scene and the hip-hop universe.
"Ninety percent of D.C. is excited and very enthusiastic about my work, and passionate about the direction I'm going," Wale beams. "Out of the other 10 percent, half of them have never heard me, and the other half are people who are upset because they feel they should be where I'm at."
Where he's at is on the edge of becoming a bona fide hip-hop superstar. "I'm already great--muthafuck potential," he modestly proclaims in his latest single "Good Girls," and so far he's on the money. Go-go-influenced jams like "Dig Dug" and "Breakdown" gave him his early local buzz, but other hits like the Houston chopped-and-screwed-influenced "Uptown Roamers" and the breezy bounce of the aforementioned "Good Girls" have proven to the rest of the world that his versatility is infinite.
"I just wanna be known as a guy who can really rap his ass off but put on a show too," Wale explains. "To be a rapper that people put in the same breath with Biggie, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and Black Thought--the same class as them on a lyrical level--but at the same time be a guy like Nelly or Luda who can have fun with it."