If you’re new around here, I have a specific Valentine’s Day ritual: revisiting my favorite rap love songs. Because romance, like life, is better with a bit of edge and a lot of cuss words.
In previous years, I’ve featured tracks from my #RNLS playlist. [Real _ Love Songs. If you know, you know what the “N” stands for]. This year, I’m spending Valentine’s Day with a master of what I call Songs for the Bitches: Wale.*
The bad news: he made his best lady-loving tracks during his mixtape days; when his romantic approach was more smart-ass-with-a-heart-of-gold than incense-and-spoken-word. Let’s take a look back, shall we?
Goodbye featuring Jean Grae: This is–without a doubt–one of the best songs in Wale’s catalog. From the 2009 mixtape Back to the Feature, the 9th Wonder-produced track paints the perfect picture of a breakup from the male and female perspectives. Does Jean Grae steal the show? Yes. But Wale’s verse is still worth the price of admission.
Penthouse Anthem: Before sampling 90s R&B hooks was a thing, Wale dropped this loosey freestyle using a sample of Kut Klose’s “I Like.” Back in the day, this track was my argument for Wale’s sexy songs being superior to that guy from Toronto’s efforts. Wale rapped about sex like he’d…had sex before. That other dude…did not. (And still doesn’t, if we’re being honest.)
Bedrock Freestyle: Speaking of besting Golden Grahams, in 2010, Wale dropped this fun freestyle over Young Money’s hit single “Bedrock.” The latter rapper’s superior touch with the ladies is explained in one simple line: “And I don’t make no bed rock/ I turn that mattress to a pool…”
The Remake of a Remake (All I Need): From the brilliant, perfect 2008 project that made me a die-hard fan, The Mixtape About Nothing, comes an adorable take on both the Marvin/Tammy and Meth/Mary versions of “You’re All I Need to Get By.” Here, Wale uses the OG version’s instrumentals with interpolations of Meth’s lyrics and a healthy dose of everyman charm. Starting a track with “I like you…like a little bit…a little tiny bit…” is a man after my own love-avoidant heart.
*For the newbies: I told y’all I like edge and cuss words.