My first time watching Seinfeld was an episode called The Contest. I had been hearing about the show and how great it supposedly was and I needed to see for myself so I could either root for it or rage against it. The intricacy of the plot and how four separate story lines converged into one theme sold me forever. I was a fan from that moment on. Imagine my surprise when I heard that a rapper named Walé was coming out with a Seinfeld-inspired mixtape. I was intrigued and skeptical, praying that it lived up to its muse. It did and I became a fan off the strength.
7 years and many more projects later (including the equally brilliant More About Nothing), Walé brings us The Album About Nothing, featuring none other than Jerry Seinfeld himself. I championed the union because it was such an organic pairing and seemed like the proper culmination of the rapper’s Seinfeld trilogy. Walé kept saying that this project was for the core fans, the ones who ride with him regardless. Seeing as how the guy has been on his musical A game for some time, I felt like this was a pivotal moment. I wanted him to satisfy the diehards while adding to that number with new listeners.
The album is about nothing the same way that Seinfeld’s hit sitcom was — meaning it’s really about a lot. Walé tackles familiar topics such as success, relationships, flaws, chill mode activities, etc. His passion, however, is what separates him. Like when he laments that “they love your moves made til you make moves” on The Helium Balloon. Walé was lambasted for signing with MMG by some of the same heads who celebrated him as an artist of content worth hearing like his subject matter would suffer. He begged to differ because he has always been multi layered no matter. The same guy who gave us Nike Boots and Chain Music sounds right at home on The White Shoes. It’s up to you to take the surface message and ponder what’s really being said… but rest assured, something IS being said.
Walé gives us several choice tracks on the album. The Pessimist (which features J. Cole on the hook) perfectly sums up how a generation can be so weighted by the hardships of life that not caring seems way more attractive. The Glass Egg voiced his frustration with balancing the many layers of his world with his own ambitions. And one of the true gems of the album, The Matrimony, finds Walé waxing poetic about “off white picket fences” and how he plans to do the love thing a little better at some point.
Having Seinfeld as a co-pilot works too. While I tend to favor the show snippets as a source of backstory (done beautifully here on The Need To Know), the comedian’s tidbits help move the needle as well. His words before “The Middle Finger” serve as a light push for Walé to flip off naysayers. I loved his anecdote about the lady who loved his white shoes because it set the tone for that particular song’s stroll down memory lane.
If I had to nitpick, I’d say that The Girls On Drugs didn’t need to be included since it was already on the preceding mixtape Festivus (I woulda included The Following). Or I’d say that some of the hooks were uneventful. Honestly though, this is a solid body of work. Walé truly delivered entertaining music while giving us something to think about. Let the others be preoccupied with everything — the time has come indeed for us to sing of nothing.