I’ve been trying to come up with a cool name to honor stuff I love. I was really leaning towards Hyphenated Classic, but classic has been overused so much that it’s lost its specialness. Classic to me means Five Mics in The Source, so I went searching for a different name. I was this close to going with the Rock N Jock MVP Award after my beloved defunct Rock N Jock baseball and basketball of MTV, but it still didn’t feel right.
But MVP Award does. Not for Most Valuable Player, but for Most Valuable Production. See, a production could be all kinds of things, and thus we arrive here, with Wale’s The Gifted.
What makes a Most Valuable Production for me is its replay value, whether that be a movie (Shawshank), a video game (Chrono Trigger currently), or in this case, an album. Having come out the same summer as Magna Carta… Holy Grail, Yeezus, and Born Sinner, Wale’s third album was lost in the shuffle, so much so that he called up Complex’s offices and left a threatening voicemail when The Gifted wasn’t listed as one of the year’s best albums. He had good reason to be mad; The Gifted is still one of the best albums to be released since 2013.
While Attention Deficit was too all over the place and Ambition was too Maybach Music for some, The Gifted finds Wale in a comfort zone. He’s able to go pop with “LoveHate Thing” and “Clappers”. He’s able to bring in one of the hottest artists in music (Rihanna) for a remix of “Bad”. He can go get the Just Blaze feature for “88”. He can trade bars with Meek Mill on “Heaven’s Afternoon”. And that’s The Gifted‘s best feature: there’s nothing Wale can’t do on this album. While the Ne-Yo & Rick Ross assisted “Tired Of Dreaming” may be the only misstep, it’s not so glaringly obvious that you’re reaching for the next track button.
As he prepares to release The Album About Nothing, I can only hope that it lives up to what he was able to do with The Gifted. Maybe it will go over everyone’s heads; maybe everyone will proclaim it his crowning achievement. But I know that when I need a go-to album that I’m going to love every second of, The Gifted is where you’ll find me.