The Duality of the Emcee or Why I Don’t Like Wale Anymore

July 31, 2012  |  


Last year, I was asked to speak on a panel about misogyny at the Hip-hop symposium at Princeton University. I was the only female on the panel, which provided me with much pressure. Twiddling my fingers and taking swigs of water I nestled into the conversation, trying to make my way in whenever a brief pause allowed.

The panelists threw banter of Greek goddesses and connections to the hyper sexuality of women through time—landing upon the perspective of sixteen bars. We traded words without interruption—even from the moderator—and agreed to disagree. During our question session, something not so deep and often ignored blitzed at me through inquiry.

A college aged girl asked, “Aren’t you tired of rappers giving us handouts? One song about love and then one about whores, it’s like they write the one respectful track for us to buy the album. Wale is a prime example.”

I remember answering her quickly, the timekeeper symbolizing that our tenure had almost expired, “You’re absolutely right. Wale’s ‘Manipulation’ record shows the difference between a good and a bad guy, but the end of the track’s banter shows that he’s probably the latter:

I’ll treat you like a queen, you rather be a slave

I’ll show you I’m a gentleman, but you prefer a cave man

Shoebox money, and crumbled up 20’s

I’ll teach you ’bout equity and real estate honey”

Banter at the end: “I might have said some words or some terms that might be offensive. Basically I just want to give you a formal apology, I didn’t really mean it…I wanted to creatively express myself.  I just want to let them know that there are two different types of guys you can date. There’s the good guys that’s going to call you a lady or a woman, even your real first name, and then there’s the guy that’s gonna try to pull your hair and call you Beyotches, hoes and all that. So you basically have the opportunity to choose one or the other. So Beyotch, pick the right mother—.”

Almost every emcee has had their day with misogyny: Tupac made “Brenda’s Got a Baby” and “I Get Around.” Jay-Z scribed “That’s My Beyotch” during the first years of his union with Beyonce. Even Common’s “Ghetto Dreams” touches on it: “I want a beyotch that look good and cook good// Cinderella fancy, but she still look hood//Butt naked in the kitchen flipping pancakes//Plus she tricking from the dough that her man makes.” Common will tell you that this is his personifying of a ghetto brother’s voice, but I’m quite sure he wouldn’t mind the visual.

However, the reason why Wale’s misogyny is so highlighted is because of his blatant and bold dichotomy. How can someone who pushed an entire campaign for ambitious girls—the female bloggers/hip-hop writers swooning at their keyboards—also be so incredibly disrespectful when it comes to women? How can you call yourself an advocate for the educated and independent and then down them in your next verse? It doesn’t stop at the new music—if you check Wale’s mix tapes before he became mainstream, you’ll notice his split was apparent far before his hit singles. Wale’s issues seem to stem outside of the music arena. Examples: His spar with Amanda Diva, the Pretty Girls fiasco, his infamous emotional tweets and numerous other rumored experiences.

But I feel as if it goes far deeper than that. Has anyone ever REALLY listened to Wale? I’m not talking about the go-go band induced beats and clever puns, I’m talking about what’s in between the lines and sifting amongst his most hurtful utterances.

“Sometimes I just wanna speak you up// Yeah, hit you up, or call you up, or send a text// Your new man got my respect// So if I do call it’s just to check//”

“Perfection doesn’t exist if it doesn’t consume her// And the truth hurts that this world’s mine, but the womb is hers//
“I’m in love with your business// and your productivity is the reason I interest, ambitious girl// See, I like the person that you are, but I’m in love with the person that you have the potential to be//”

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  • Mark Dub

    he’s been over-rated for a LOOOONG time. I have listened ardently for what so many of you claim is his hotness. Beyond a few clever bars (and i do mean few), I have never understood the appeal. I think that he believes himself to be a much hotter spitter than what he actually is.

  • Mari

    Girl you spoke the truth. Great article.

  • cleojonesin

    It has gotten really bad with the disrespect for women, I even hear Trey Songs and The Dream calling woman b*****. I expect it from rappers, sadly. Even Common says b***h now. They have all sold out. I hope we can start making soul music again, otherwise the problem will only worse.

  • nia

    The best Wale song to go mainstream was his first one. The one with Lady Gaga. After that he should have just stopped.

  • sammi_lu

    Perhaps you read too far between the lines and gave Wale too much credit to begin with, at the end of the day he is trying to sell records like the next artist. Male rappers know that they have to appeal to the female audience because studies have shown that we are more likely to go out and buy their albums if we are fans.


    It’s amazing how quick we are to judge. Wale has fought to get into the main stream for years. So, yes he maybe a little bitter. However, in time he may have a better understanding of himself. In the MEANTIME…… HE IS AN ARTIST and as a artist he should feel free to express himself. If you dont like it, dont listen to it. 5 Gs (GOOD GOD GIRL GET A GRIP).. You could have spent time writing about something of more importance then WALE…IJS

  • I love Wale and his metaphorical style…His diction is amazing and is not to be taken literally. I think in order to go mainstream and make it successfully, sometimes you have to dumb down yourself to sale. All of Wale’s mixtapes are about his hurt, his experience with women, and what a good woman is to him. If you want an artist to pick on…you definitely should’ve did an article on Lil Wayne or Nicki Minaj who has seemed to lose their way in this industry. Because J. Cole is the same way.

  • CarlaKah

    Sometimes duality is in a person’s nature. That being said , once you’re in the public eye like Wale is, you have the responsibility to explain yourself becauseof the influence you have on (young) minds. This was a nice article though.

  • Ashley

    Really a good read! Opened my eyes as well…

  • Magg

    I cant believe he did that to girl Amanda…

    Good read!!

  • kay

    I feel the same way when it comes to rap music. On one hand I like wale’s music but every sentence is about a b***h. Men and women need to stop using that word when talking about women. It so normal to hear that come out of someone’s mouth now a days.

  • AfricanBambi

    i can’t say i really agree with this article…Wale, yes has a aim for women with higher learning and yes he does call women “beyotches” at the same time, but i do feel like when he’s able to put his creativity into his music thats not the full aim (for example his mixtapes are full of positive songs) I think you might be pickin on one artists that actually uplifts women through his music…maybe not all his music but a good portion, and thats a lot compared to most rappers out here who’s every other verse is beyotch gimme my money and beyotch get on dem knees. Some artists dont even care to put out a positive song for women so for one artist who does do that…i say give the man a break.

  • muteiny

    I don’t think it’s just the duality of the emcee though, I think it’s the duality of many black males. Black females too, to be honest, but I think men, in general, express their pain differently. It’s almost like a flicker of a confession of hurt and then a figurative shoulder shrug like “I’m alright, back to the party!”

  • chaisfancy

    I swear I was just talking about Wale to my boyfriend on this very same issue. Basically Wale’s journey mimics the same journey as most of these now successful artists in the hip hop genre. I guess it’s even more blatant now because I am adult who followed Wale’s career so I definitely see how he sold out. Rap has always been an aggressive and misogynistic. But lately, there has been an undeniable full-fledged attack on black women by these black men. The colorism has gotten worse, the degrading names and images has increased and the list goes on and on. When there is something “positive,” they still find a way to call us out of our names. I think it’s high time we have a discussion panel with these artists. These men who often times products of single black mothers. These men who have daughters.

    • chaisfancy

      excuse any typos

      • christinasade

        thing is, i dont know if their talking about JUST black women….most of their videos dont even feature black women

    • cleojonesin

      It would be amazing to have a discussion panel with these rappers! We need to make this happen. We can’t just sit around and complain anymore.

      • Kayo

        There would need to be a translator there to translate the slang and Ebonics.

        • cleojonesin

          im dying!!!!

  • Dcarter910

    I kind of agree with this post but then I have to put my 2 cents in:

    I think Wale, like everyone else struggles with the person that they want to be vice the person that they are. It’s hard to express the animal desires (sex,excitement,danger) that is inherent in all of us in a way that is socially acceptable in a world where moral people/artist are always sidelined by the immoral. Yes, I believe he would like to have that sweet, educated woman but he (and I) would also like to have that “down” chick that is a little crazy and exciting. I think we all struggle with that. It’s why good girls still date bad guys, even though they know they will only marry the good guy in the end.

    Our mind is poisoned by the darkness even as our hearts strive for the light.

  • sheane

    The lyric that the author quoted from Shades
    “I never fit in with them light skins// I felt the lighter they was the better they life is// So I resented them and they resented me// Cheated on light skinned Dominique when we was seventeen//I figured I’d hurt her, she’d evidently hurt me, and all woman who had light features//See, I never let a light broad hurt me//That’s why I strike first and the cut’s deep. THIS VERSE IS NOT A DIG AT WOMEN! I REPEAT ITS’ NOT A DIG AT WOMEN! Did you listen to the ENTIRE SONG or just that one verse? That song is about how he felt growing up as a dark skinned brother during a time when they were all about light skinned people. Tell me you don’t know at least ONE dark skinned person who has felt that sting. So yea it makes sense that he would’ve felt that way at that time. But in the rest of the song he doesn’t continue on that road. So maybe you should cut the man a little break.

    • Anonymous

      She talks about Shades and its purpose. Sounds like you’re a heavy fan.

      • sheane

        I LOVE that song. As someone who was picked on because I was black in a room full of white kids I understand the feeling of hating yourself to a certain point and then hating those who used to pick on you. But he doesn’t continue on that road during that song. To just pull one verse and say because of what he said here he hates all light skinned women shows your immaturity. And no I’m not a heavy fan. I barely listen to rap music as it is.

    • AfricanBambi

      Agreed. 100% !!

    • Deez

      He’s very pretentious and rude in person. I’ve been around him on numerous occasions in the DC area and I believe he’s got some deep underooted issues with women. And he’s a C+ rapper…..that’s just me being nice.

      • Na Na

        I always wondered how he was in real life and felt that his struggles with women on wax was part of characteristic outside of rapping, so its interesting that you said that.

    • HollyW

      Why does every mf’in Black rapper need “a break”?? How about they just stop disrespecting Black women?? Oh yeah, we keep DEFENDING them! Smdh puleeease open your eyeeez, people!

      • sheane

        I was ONLY saying to give him a break ON THE ONE SONG! Did you not understand my post? When these rappers talk about b-s and hos they’re NOT DISRESPECTING ME! You want to know why? BECAUSE I’M NOT THE WOMAN THEY’RE TALKING TO! It’s not what you’re called it’s what you answer to! And really if it offends you that much talk with your wallet, don’t by their music, go to their concerts, etc. But to tell someone how they should express themselves creatively just because “you don’t approve of their message” is silly. In real life if a man comes up to me trying to “rap” to me like Lil Wayne or one of those other rappers I ignore him and keep it moving. I don’t like it I don’t approve of it but I’m not going to tell someone not to do what they do to make them money.


      Well put.

  • Thank you for this.

    To me (MY PERSONAL OPINION), Wale’s been somewhat bipolar for a long time. It makes it hard to defend his music when it seems that he’s completely content being bipolar as far as saying one thing in music, and then saying something else contradictory. I used to like Wale heavily, but it’s not hard to spot that blatant shift in his music. He’s still talented… it’s just that the conflict turns me off to his music.

    No disrespect meant in any way.

    This was a good read. #salute

  • anonymous

    This author sounds obsessed and over analytical. Most rap music out today is offensive, quit picking on Wale and focus on songs and music genres that don’t offend you. Duh.

    • mzjuels

      He does play both sides even if I do agree with you partially. I really sat down and listened to Chain Music one day and yeah, it’s misogynistic. Entirely. I’m not saying what he’s doing is right but at the same time other rappers do the same thing. Common like the author did mention does it, so did Pac. Common was the same dude that made The Light and I Poke Her Face so this is really nothing new. I think it’s just more noticeable with Wale because he switches sides all the time. You can’t be preaching black unity and calling women out their name in the next breath but it’s something that has been done. But my problem is if you are going to call out one artist, in terms of the article you need to call everybody out not just one specific person.

  • IllyPhilly

    Diary and Lotus turned me on. All his other crap sounds just like the rest of the losers out here.

    • Dior

      Ignoring something b/c you find it to be offensive is the worst way to deal with anything. Instead, why not bring it to a public forum to have a constructive conversation about it?

      • Dior

        That was meant for homegirl/boy below. Lol.