The Washington Post

Wale's "Ambition" is a plateau, not a peak

The Wale who shows up on “Ambition” isn’t the one who has shown so much promise over the years. (Josh Sisk/FTWP)

“Bait,” the new single from the Washington rapper, embodies the sky-touching confidence of a man who just scaled Mount Everest — even if he hasn’t left the District.

He raps about sitting courtside at a Wizards game. Then a strip club on Queens Chapel Road. Then racing his Mercedes through the streets of gentrified Washington.

“Bait” has become Washington’s latest local anthem, spilling out of car stereos and nightclub speakers all across the District. On a recent Friday afternoon, Wale performed it at Yardfest, the annual Homecoming concert on Howard University’s quad. As students shouted along — WORK! WORK! WORK! WORK! — the anticipation for his new album, “Ambition,” felt almost tangible in the crisp autumn air.

But here’s the rub: “Bait” isn’t on the album.

And neither is the Wale who wrote it.

Read the full review from today’s paper.

Chris Richards is The Washington Post's pop music critic. He has recently written about David Bowie's legacy of reinvention, Beyoncé's Super Bowl victory, viral go-go covers and rock star death waves.

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