Samples have long been part of the lifeblood of Wale’s catalog, but on Folarin II, they are prominent, offering insights about who and what has inspired the D.C. rapper. “I give flowers to my inspirations, my OGs, my contemporaries, my peers, and myself,” he tells Apple Music’s Nadeska of the album, his seventh. The three lead singles were the first hint. “Angles,” “Down South,” and “Poke It Out” all are built around the familiarity of their samples: Diddy’s 2002 “I Need a Girl (Pt. 1),” Mike Jones’ 2004 “Still Tippin’,” and Q-Tip’s 1999 “Vivrant Thing,” respectively. Each one is designed to play on nostalgia, while also spotlighting Wale’s dexterity.
Other gems include the regret-tinged “Dearly Beloved,” which features a dazzling loop of Jamie Foxx’s performance on his eponymous TV show, and the flirtatious “Caramel,” which functions as an homage to legendary producer (and D.C. native) Chucky Thompson, who died in August of 2021 from COVID complications. “He produced the original ‘Caramel Kisses’ by Faith [Evans],” Wale says. “I just want to send a special shout-out to him, because our last conversation was about that record and sampling it, so that’s a special piece to the project for me.”
But for as much as Wale (deservedly) places himself in dialogue with greats past and present, the thing that separates him remains his ability to bring the lively sound of his hometown to wider audiences. It’s in the subtle go-go textures of “More Love” and the outright bounce beat of “Jump In,” as the rapper glides across the percussion. Folarin II may have been made as a way for Wale to dole out the respect he’s craved for himself, but it’s high time to give it back.
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