Not everyone gets to release a major label rap album. Nobody gets to see that debut album commercially flop and then gets a second chance on another major label. On top of that add in said artist hailing from the DMV area (or urea if you like). All of this is why Wale is such an anomaly. He went from losing his deal to dwarfing his previous sales and filling up the New York’s Best Buy Theater for the release of his third album The Gifted.

It’s interesting to see the mix of (young) people that come out to see a Wale show. You can tell a crowd is young when the Dj plays Montell Jordan‘s This Is How We Do It and calls it “old school”. The evening was a star studded affair from the start. After two songs Wale gave a salute to his Roc Nation family in the building including Jay-Z‘s long time pepper spray carrier Ty Ty and the latest addition to the fam, OKC’s Kevin Durant. Durant stepped out to greet the crowd to screams and camera phones shots. Later in the show Wale made an attempt to make the older hip hop heads (like me) happy and brought out “top five dead or alive” Jadakiss for 600 Benz. Kiss always staying down for his fam in turn brought out the rest of the LOX (Stylez P and Sheek Louch) to perform I Get High and All About The Benjamins.

Wale also kept the energy up without guests although he did keep a vocalist on stage to sing his hooks for the hits like Lotus Flower Bomb. The guy didn’t hit the notes like Miguel but he still kept the tunes flowing. For a guy that keeps a hit for the ladies, Wale doesn’t tip his show in their direction for too long and you gotta appreciate that. He gives them their due and then gets back to the gritty (well as gritty as he gets). He even keeps an old gem like Nike Boots for the day 1 fans who were in the building. Being a smart man, Wale kept the new album cuts for the end of the show continuing to let the audience know that at midnight his album would be available (if you didn’t download the leak already).

Wale said at the beginning of his show, “I’m only 28 on my third album.” Many counted him out after his debut Attention Deficit failed in the eyes of Interscope and the public. Fortunately for him that’s a problem that’s far behind him. Wale has used his gift wisely to bring his career up to this high point, and his new album needs to continue that momentum. From the response of this NYC crowd, he doesn’t have much to worry about.

Words by Dashaun Simmons | @13Rose

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