Wale’s Folarin II – Track By Track
Wale dropped his seventh studio album Folarin II, this is his first major release since his much overlooked EP – The Imperfect Storm which came out in 2020. Imperfect Storm was an incredible six song project with both fun and serious songs that never seemed to get the shine it deserved.
Wale ensured that Folarin II would not be similarly overlooked, dropping three homerun singles in the lead up to the albums release date in – Angles, Down South, and Poke It Out.
The Folarin II Sound
The default beat style for this album is a distorted sample from the 80’s or 90’s placed over trap drums – the majority of the beats on this album can be described that way. The songs that don’t fit into that mold are Down South which goes for a clear Houston sound, Angles which is a song made for the Chris Brown feature/pop aesthetic, and Jump In which is a bounce song.
There are a lot of really unique Afro-beats sounds and instruments used on Folarin II. Wale is taking chances on this album, the features are unique, the sounds are fun, and he’s trying new things and succeeding.
We’re going to break down Wale’s Folarin II – Track By Track.
New Balances has a quiet beat consisting of distorted samples and trap drums allowing Wale’s voice to shine through as the driver of the song. This works amazing as an introduction to the album, Wale is spelling out what to expect. A quiter, calmer beat allows for Wale to set the tone.
He says “every lyric I wrote is a caption,” he harps on past heartbreak, and begins to explain the chip on his shoulder as well as how he overcomes it. “Way more checks, new balances.”
Name Ring Bell
Name Bell Ring is an extremely dynamic song. It features a sample of Ting-A-ling by Shabba Ranks, as well as some really unique instruments. There is an almost cinematic build up to the first 30 seconds, reminiscent of a blockbuster film.
Poke It Out (feat. J. Cole)
Absolute heat. Poke It Out is Wale’s most turnt song since Slight Work. There is not an ounce of fat on this immediate party hit. J. Cole sings a bridge about body positivity, Wale praises little butts, and the beat is utterly infectious.
Poke It Out might just be the best single dropped in 2021. Wale hit a home run releasing this track as a single a few weeks ago. “She got a lil butt, so what?!”
Silky smooth, Wale talks his shit over another simplistic beat composed of a distorted sample and trap beats. There are subtle horns in the background of the beat, which add an extra flavor. Tiffany Nikes comes nearly 14 years after Wale released Nike Boots.
Caramel is a complete 180 from Tiffany Nikes. The Faith Evans Caramel Kisses sample grabs you immediately, along with classic 1990’s hip-hop sound effects peppered over a fast paced beat. This song will have your head bopping at your desk or on your commute, the colder the weather gets and the deeper into cuffing season we go – the harder this song will hit.
“Is your job your passion? Is your passion your love? Is your love your world? Is your world not enough?”
“Choose me, choose you, use me, use you.” On Fluctuate Wale talks about how people use one another and how transactional relationships can be. The first verse harps on the importance of trust, then the second verse focuses on loyalty.
“y’all false beef, y’all beyond meat, it’s beyond me”
Light Years (feat. Rick Ross)
When these two link up, they never miss. Add Light Years to a playlist with Pandemonium, Ambition, That Way, Bag Of Money, Routine, 600 Benz, and the rest of the MMG classics. Wale is known for dropping sports references, however it was surprising to hear a Willis McGahee reference in 2021.
Rick Ross’s verse isn’t his best work, it almost sounds incomplete. The song is still solid, but Ross underdelivers.
Angles (feat. Chris Brown)
Angles was the lead single for Folarin II, it came out early in the summer of 2021. Chris Brown is a cheat code to get radio play and 10 million streams. Angles is a textbook rapper plus Chris Brown song, it lacks substance but substance is not the point.
This was the weakest of the three singles released ahead of the album, but still received commercial success. Angles is reminiscent of those Kid Ink and Chris Brown songs that came out in the early 2010’s like Show Me.
Dearly Beloved (feat. Jamie Foxx)
Classic Wale. Dearly Beloved is poetry as rap about the loss of a woman. Jamie Foxx sings the chorus, which loops over the piano beat throughout the song.
“So you gonna sell yourself short of perfection and get you a good enough.”
More Love (feat. Shawn Stockman & Sauce)
“I love me baby, you should love you more.” The first verse of this song focuses on Wale’s internal struggles, then the second verse focuses on his relationship with women and his fans.
Despite More Love and Dearly Beloved having different producers, similar layering techniques are used. For example, Jamie Foxx’s vocals in Dearly Beloved ring in the background of the entire song, similarly Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men singing “love is on your side” repeats throughout the entire song. These similarities are likely why these two tracks are back to back on the album.
Jump In (feat. Lil Chris of T.O.B)
Jump In sounds like some Chicago juke music made by DC artists. Wale cosigned DC artist and community organizer Lil Chris of T.O.B. who performs the majority of this song, aside from the bridge and one Wale verse.
This is a fast paced song that I could see being a ton of fun live next to songs like Bait.
Down South (feat. Yella Breezy and Maxo Kream)
This is a Texas hip-hop inspired song with an obvious sample of Still Tippin’ by Mike Jones, as well as Texas rappers Maxo Kream and Yella Breezy. Down South helped make Maxo Kream a household name, this song was released as a single the same week that Tyler, the Creator released a song with Maxo resulting in a large boost in popularity for the rapper.
Down South is an undeniable bop. Whether you’re in a car or in the club, you’ll start to sway as the Down South chorus comes on.
“Down South slangin’, rollin’ with these hustlers. Tryna get rid of all you haters and you busters.”
Extra Special (feat. Ant Clemons)
Extra Special is a hard-left, when you’re listening to the album start to finish. After two high energy songs, Wale slows the album down here. Ant Clemons sings a beautiful hook on this song, for those unfamiliar Clemons has worked with Kanye West, Ty Dolla Sign, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, and many more.
Add this to your late night playlist for a night of what Wale calls “Netflix and Prosecco.” This is the type of song that makes things really tense when you’re in the car with your partner.
“Your friends say I’m bold, my friends say you iffy
Our past is our past, don’t gotta be our history
I’m tryna get our chemistry, now I’m tryna feel you
You bad and I’m wealthy, they question our intentions
Whatever, we can tell ’em whatever
We can tell ’em we not together to see who been jealous, yeah”
Fire & Ice
Wale continues to slow the album down as it comes to an end. This is a slow jam for the ladies, although Wale says “They told me I ain’t wrote nothin’ poetic in a long time” at the beginning of this song – it’s not all that poetic. There are far more poetic songs on the album.
This is a quick one verse interlude leading to the outro of the album.
This is a three verse classic buried at the end of the album. Wale sticks his chest out and raps about his accomplishments, which is relatively rare for Wale – but completely warranted. Jaden Smith provides the ad libs for the beginning of the song, then Wale raps about Will and Jada Smith and Jaden’s voice leaves the song.
“I do the shit that they never done
I see the shit they can never see
Honestly, I’m really one-of-one
Honestly, I got no company, let it breathe”