(swiped from Pitchfork Media)
Usually, when rappers work with rock bands, they out their own bad---- or at least totally pedestrian-- tastes. Witness, for example, Q-Tip enlisting Korn for a collab, or Coldplay's Chris Martin and his bizarre evolution into some sort of Nate Dogg 2.0. So it's heartening to see a young rapper pairing up with a great rock band, especially when the combination basically makes sense.
According to his manager, the as-yet-untitled debut album from the nimble Washington, DC rapper Wale will include beats from a whole lot of familiar names in the rap-producer roundtable: Cool & Dre, Ryan Leslie, Green Lantern, Sean C and LV. Best Kept Secret, the go-go inflected DC producers whose beats animated much of Wale's celebrated Mixtape About Nothing, are also on board, as is Mark Ronson, who signed Wale to his Interscope imprint Allido, and West Coast experimental dance music team Glitch Mob.
But there's an unexpected name on that list, too: TV on the Radio sound-sculptor David Sitek. Sitek's done a ton of production work outside his own band, manning the boards for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Scarlett Johansson, and Foals, among others, but Wale is the first rapper he's worked with.
Wale and Sitek have completed two tracks together. Antibalas alums Stuart Bogie and Todd Simon play horns on the tracks, while Breakestra's Dave Chegwidden plays congos. Rock star poet Saul Williams may handle the hook on one, and TVOTR frontman Tunde Adebimpe may sing on the other. Tre, frontman for the go-go band UCB (also doing some work with Sitek, according to Wale's manager) helped with melodies and horn arrangements.
The collaboration was arranged by Wale's management and Interscope, which also puts out TV on the Radio's albums. Speaking to Pitchfork, Wale said of working with Sitek, "It happened so fast. Once I got into the studio, I picked a beat out immediately, then another one." He continued, " It really pushes the envelope farther, as far as musicianship goes. The creativity level has got to be stepped up in 2009 for other artists."
Sitek is a native of Columbia, Maryland, a Baltimore suburb and about a 45-minute drive from DC, close enough that he probably grew up hearing Wale's beloved go-go on WPGC. And the apocalyptic herky-jerk funk that TVOTR perfected on last year's Dear Science isn't all that far removed from go-go. So even if this was a combination cooked up in an Interscope boardroom somewhere, it makes sense for these guys to be working together.
In any case, this video, which mostly centers on Wale's not-that-interesting jewelry-shopping travails, has some footage of Wale and Sitek goofing off in the studio.
The Sitek collaboration is indicative of what Wale is going for with his album, which he hopes to release this spring. "It's something different," he said. "I don't want to cover the same ground. I want to show a lot of diversity, I want to challenge the listener a little bit. I have a lot of fans who haven't really seen outside of DC. I want to show them different things." He said he already has about 50 tracks banked for the album, with plans to keep recording for the next three weeks. He's also working on tracks with will.i.am.
In other Wale news, he recently worked with Canadian synth-rocker Colin Monroe on a remix of Munroe's "Will I Stay", which appears on Munroe's new mixtape Colin Munroe Is the Unsung Hero, and this video shows the two working on it together. Wale's also featured on "Change", the big-in-England new single from Australian R&B singer Daniel Merriweather. And Wale's next single, "Chillin", produced by Cool & Dre, will include a hook from the inexplicably huge dancepop entity Lady Gaga. This guy is really covering all his bases. Maybe he'll even do some songs with rappers!
MP3: Wale: The Mixtape About Nothing
Stream: TV on the Radio: Heroes (David Bowie cover) [from the forthcoming Heroes War Child benefit compilation]