Ralph Victor Folarin aka Wale hails from Washington, D.C.. He rose to prominence in 2006, when his song "Dig Dug (Shake It)" became popular in his hometown. Wale became locally recognized and continued recording music for the regional audience. Producer Mark Ronson discovered Wale in 2006 and signed him to Allido Records in 2007. While signed to that label, Wale released several mixtapes and appeared in national media including MTV and various urban magazines.
Wale, a Nigerian American, was born Olubowale Victor Akintimehin in Gaithersburg, Maryland on September 21, 1984. His parents are of the Yoruba ethnic group of southwestern Nigeria and came to the United States from Austria in 1979. Wale's family first lived in Northwest Washington DC before moving to Montgomery County when Wale was 10. He graduated from Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg, Maryland in 2001 and later moved to Largo, Maryland. Wale attended Robert Morris Universityand Virginia State University on football scholarships, then transferred to Bowie State University but dropped out due to academic reasons. Wale's love of the game of football and the Washington Redskins has led to a longstanding rumor that Wale had a tattoo of tight end Chris Cooley.
Wale's first recording was called "Rhyme of the Century". It was his first song to ever be played on local radio. He was featured in the "Unsigned Hype" column of The Source magazine in 2006. He was signed to a local label called Studio 43 in 2006. "Dig Dug (Shake It)" became popular in Washington, D. C, Maryland and Virginia and was a tribute to Ronald "Dig Dug" Dixon, percussion player for the go-go band Northeast Groovers. The song became the most requested song by a local artist in D. C. radio history and Wale was the first local artist to get any BDS spins since DJ Kool in the early 1990s. The song was included in Wale's first mixtape,Paint a Picture. In July 2006, Wale found representation in Daniel Weisman, a former club DJ and promoter who had no previous experience in management. Weisman had been tipped off about the rapper by a friend in Washington, D. C and connected with him through Myspace. In September 2006, after dropping another go-go influenced single, "Breakdown", sampled from Huck-a-Bucks "Sexy Girl" and getting a mention in The Washington Post, Wale released his first non-go-go original single, "Uptown Roamers. " On September 14, 2006, "Uptown Roamers" debuted on XM Radio Channel 66 and was played twice in one day. Both "Breakdown" and "Uptown Roamers" were on Wale's second mixtape, Hate Is the New Love. Wale's song "Breakdown, " was featured on the video game Madden NFL 2009. Wale won the award for "D. C. Metro Breakthrough Artist of the Year" at WKYS's Go-Go Awards in November 2006. On December 15, The Fader magazine associate editor Nick "Catchdubs" Barat visited Wale for an interview and photo shoot which appeared in the March 2007 issue of The Fader. Manager Weisman told HitQuarters that the Fader feature, given the magazine's music/culture/fashion orientation, laid an important foundation for Wale to position himself as a "cool, smart, up-and-coming hip-hop artist who might actually be Drake".
In 2008, Wale signed to Interscope Records for $1.3 million, and his debut album Attention Deficit was released in 2009 with the singles "Chillin", "Pretty Girls", and "World Tour". The album, although under-shipped, received positive reviews from critics. In early 2011 Wale signed on with Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group, where members of the label released a compilation album, Self Made Vol. 1 on May 23, 2011. His second studio album, Ambition was released November 1, 2011, with mixed reviews. His third studio album, Gifted is scheduled for release on June 25, 2013.
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