Mix-tapes as of late are no longer rough and underdeveloped, as the word alludes to, but in fact they have become a quality counterpart to the revered LP release. The best known examples are Chance the Rappers ‘Acid Rap‘ and Frank Ocean’s ‘Nostalgia Ultra‘. Enter Wale’s latest mix-tape ‘Festivus‘, produced by the incomparable ‘A-Trak‘. You hopefully find the title of the mix-tape eerily familiar, that’s because it’s from none other than one of the greatest 90’s sitcoms to have ever existed, mother flipping ‘Seinfeld‘! The name alone got me excited for the tape and Wale didn’t disappoint the little fan boy within, chucking in numerous soundbites and references from the show throughout.
Now that the pure fricken excitement of hearing Seinfeld sampled in a rappers mix-tape is out of the way, on to the actual tape itself. First of all, its incredibly focused and insanely smooth. Wale’s flow on each and every track just seems to be on point, and the manner and confidence in which he spits over the largely 90’s inspired RnB beats, is something to behold. The tape isn’t without its star studded features, from the man of the moment, Chance the Rapper, to Ab-Soul and Pusha T. Perhaps the best feature comes from one of the standout tracks, ‘Tonight’, and it’s provided by a much lesser compatriot to the others, ‘Dino‘. ‘Dino’ handles the hook on this simple, jungle drum focused party starter, and he does so with aplomb. Whilst all the tracks are solid and cover a variety for all listeners to find and appreciate at least one, the standout is handled completely by Wale, with the introduction by Mr Seinfeld himself. ‘Chess’ is just perfect as Wales voice slides so effortlessly over the top of a retro sounding guitar hook and a simple drum progression. There’s a passion in his voice and as you listen more intently, the lyrics open up and you understand that Wale is actually voicing concerns that are of great relevance. He comments on the racial prejudice still largely held into today’s world and especially prominent in the current social climate of the U.S.A. The symbolism of a Chess game is poignant and on full show in the line, “Where the whites move first and you go second, cause you’re black”. ‘Festivus’ is a concentrated, intelligent and hugely entertaining listen from start to finish and sure to increase his ever growing status.