Wale and students hang out for Haiti

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The Spectrum

Wale has dedicated his albums and mixtapes to both absolutely nothing (his mixtape is aptly titled "The Mixtape About Nothing") and every topic imaginable ("Attention Deficit"). He brought it all to Alumni Arena for the benefit of a good cause.
The Washington, D.C. lyricist brought his go-go elements, his catalog of mixtapes and one album to Alumni Arena on Saturday for a Haiti benefit concert. Gaining hype with his acclaimed mixtapes – resulting in numerous proclamations of the rapper's potential to be the next great artist – Wale released his first album, "Attention Deficit," in Nov. 2009, putting him on the proverbial mainstream music map.
Olubowale Folarin, outfitted in Billionaire Boys Club paraphernalia, hopped onstage 30 minutes late, but stayed there for longer than an hour and brought a deep show to the audience.
The 25-year-old rapper's style and infectious lyrics kept those in attendance interested in the show with his mixtape hits and radio jams. Hands were waving during "Nike Boots," and the crowd was rehearsing in unison during Wale's exiting songs, which included the singles "Pretty Girls" and "Chillin'." Those two singles left a lasting impression on the crowd: after the set, Wale surveyed the crowd and signed autographs on everything from shoes to fitted hats for his waiting fans.
This wasn't his only interaction with the fans in attendance. During a section in which Wale was covering throwback '90s jams, the rapper got the urge to get hyphy with the crowd and sparked some energy.
He jumped during "Jump Around," and swayed with the dancing audience during "Hip Hop Hooray." This crowd participation was impressive, considering its small size. Wale wasn't deterred by the surprisingly small showing and partied with the gracious crowd when he had the chance.
Despite Wale's effort, the show wasn't without its shortcomings. The rapper was sometimes drowned out by his loud band, which added a different feel to his music but also took away from the original beats of the album and mixtapes.
At one point, Wale and his hype man broke out into a baby-making session. Though the smooth rhythms got people dancing, the session took away from the atmosphere that was built up by Wale's earlier songs.
During this session, the hype man serenaded three women from the crowd and did his best to let his voice melt the females' unaffected hearts. While Wale took a break, the hype man brought a limited range and had most of the crowd snoozing and dreaming of the downtown and Main St. bars.
Holding the benefit at Alumni Arena also took away from the show. A crowd of about 1,100 got into Wale's performance, but the floor and seats remained relatively empty. A different location would have resulted in a more club-like, intimate atmosphere.
Wale's effort did triumph the downfalls and showed that he's more interested in the fans in attendance than the people who didn't show up. In his effort to gain more radio play while maintaining his underground fan base, Wale's mindset will result in more fanfare and success in the near future.

Additional reporting by Lauren Nostro, Asst. City Editor.

E-mail: arts@ubspectrum.com