Wale’s new album, “The Gifted,” lands Tuesday, but true to the rapper’s restless spirit, he’s already toiling over the next one. And he’s lassoed an unlikely collaborator, too — Jerry Seinfeld.
Fans have known about Wale’s fascination with “Seinfeld” since 2008 when the Washington rap star dropped “The Mixtape About Nothing,” a breakout digital release that doubled as an ode to his favorite TV show. It included a go-go version of the sitcom’s blump-ba-blump theme song, couplets spun from snippets of the show’s dialogue, even a cameo-via-voice-mail from Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Seinfeld — who’s been busy chatting about his craft on “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” a wonderful new Web series that documents exactly that — has been a Wale admirer for a few years and agreed to contribute some bits to “The Album About Nothing,” due out sometime next year.
For now, the 59-year-old comedy omnipresence appears in a skit toward the end of “The Gifted,” acting as if he has accidentally barged into the wrong recording session. Wale posted a YouTube clip of their April studio summit on Monday. “This is the greatest day of my professional life,” the rapper says to the camera. “Got my favorite human being in the studio, telling jokes.”
While reporting a profile of Wale that appeared on the front page of Sunday’s Washington Post, we spoke with Seinfeld to ask him about his budding hip-hop career.
So how did Wale first approach you and what did you think of the pitch?
How did he approach me? I think people showed me that “Mixtape About Nothing.” I think that’s where it started. And I thought that was interesting. And funny. There’s no better feeling [than] to reach across cultural lines and connect with somebody. . . .
He came to a show in Philadelphia, and we hung out after the show and I found him to be a nice guy and very dedicated to his thing. He’s a pure artist to me. So I just dug him. Then he said, “Why don’t we do something together?” And that was so insane that, of course, I had to say yes.
I’m a big fan of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” . . . Did you guys talk about the craft of what you each do?
Yeah, but I think it’s hard for him to explain it to me — the same way it would be hard for me to explain to someone, “Well, you see that’s a joke and that isn’t.” . . . That instinctual thing.
So much of Wale’s music is about being irritated by the world and making art out of it, which is obviously a sort of a “Seinfeld”-ian thing. Do you feel any kind of parallel between what you two are doing?
Hmm, I guess so. I think all art begins with irritation.
I’m going to guess this is the first rap album you’ve ever appeared on?
Yes, it is.
Do you listen to hip-hop?
My wife does and my kids do, so I’m around it all the time. And the really amazing thing is, when I told my wife, “I’ve decided I’m going to do this session with this guy, this young hip-hop guy.” She says, “Oh, that’s great.” I said, “I don’t know how popular he is or not, but I just like him.” And she says, “Who is it?” And I go, “His name is Wale.” She says, “He is my absolute favorite!” And this is two years into this relationship that I have with him. And I don’t know that that’s what my wife has been listening to. That was pretty wild.
He has a lot to gain from this project. What do you get out of it?
The notoriety that he gets. That’s what I have to gain. The whole thing is hilarious to me. If he can really do this, if he can make this actually work, musically, I think it’s fascinating. Because [with] all music and comedy, words are the clay. There is a music to comedy. There’s a rhythm. There’s a timing. Obviously. When people talk about a comedian having great timing, that’s music. . . . There is some correlation. If he can bridge it, I just think it would be the coolest thing.