Wale's career had all but stalled last year – until the D.C. rapper won another bite at the apple by signing to Rick Ross' label. On his second LP (and first since he started rapping about strip clubs instead of Seinfeld), he takes advantage of the do-over, lacing expensive-sounding beats from the likes of Diplo and Lex Luger with dialed-in flows. He's too quick to reach for sexist clichés; cheap shots at groupies and gold diggers undercut moments of real emotion. What Wale lusts for most of all is respect. "Fuck fame, fuck money," he declares. "I'm just trying to be legendary." Someday, maybe, but not quite yet.
Listen to "White Linen (Coolin')":