Wale Details Roc Nation Departure, Says "They're Going In Another Direction"
Asked about the decision to join 77 North Management, a company known for its representation of James and NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel, Wale said he’ll be getting a different type of insight and direction.
“Couple things about brands and stuff like that,” he said. “I mean, I don’t really need no help on the music side. It’s like the brand stuff is what I’m on right now...I have a job with the Washington Wizards. Can we go into that now? [I’m a] brand ambassador. One of the magnificent things that I do with my free time.”
On the decision to leave Roc Nation after five years at the company, Wale cited the company's recent focus on sports management.
“It was hard because I was there when that jawn was S. Dot Enterprises,” he said. “That jawn was brand spankin’ new...It was hard for me. But to me personally they’re going in another direction. They’re sports. My day-to-day person was Rich Kleiman. You know, he’s with Victor Cruz and [Kevin Durant] and I believe Hakeem Nicks. He’s got his own thing going on. I wish those guys the best. I introduced Victor Cruz to Rich as well as K.D.”
Speaking on his upcoming Album About Nothing tentatively scheduled for a fall release, Wale described trying to replicate the essence of his early career highlights.
“I’m kind of letting my core fans A&R the project," he said. "I’m zeroing in on things that made them grow to love me early in my career like when I was doing The Mixtape About Nothing and More About Nothing. I’m trying to focus on those things sonically. I’m not running away from those things no more. I’m a little bit more brave now as far as my music selection on this project.”
Breaking down his early signing with Mark Ronson and Rich Kleiman’s Allido, a sub-division of Interscope, Wale hinted that he’d be open to reuniting with Ronson before explaining the politics behind being dropped from the larger platform.
“I wish,” he said of making music with Ronson again. “Mark don’t need nothin’ so he’s hard to reach...Anyway I word it it’d be like, ‘Aw, he’s whining.’ So, I just encourage people to just kind of like read between the lines. I ain’t trying to say nothing ‘cause I’m not trying to do that.”
Addressing Ronson’s impact on his career, Wale clarified, “he didn’t discover me.”
“To be honest, what happened was, that’s just something that sounds cool when you sign,” he added. “But now we big boys now we could tell the real story. What happened was I was doing the local circuit, go-go’s and street stuff rapping on U Street...back home. He had found one of my songs and it passed from one person to one person and he played it on the show. He asked me to come and do a freestyle for him. I did it. I came in. I’m a hungry rapper from DC so I’m like, ‘What’s up? I’m trying to get a record deal.’ He kinda like, ‘We’ll see.’
"So what happened was I think her name was Leah Rose, XXL. She called Rich Kleiman I believe and told Rich, ‘Yo, you gotta sign this kid. He’s hot.’ So Rich Kleiman brought me back in and said, ‘Mark, sign him.’ Mark was kind of, ‘Eh.’ But when he started hearing the buzz, Mark starting hearing the buzz and then things blew up. Lil Wayne did that ‘Nike Boots Remix’ and then it blew up. So, he’s like, ‘Oh, alright.’ So that’s why me and Rich was always like this. I made a lot of sacrifices. I did all these tours with Mark. I had a crazy buzz back here from my main deal, from my distribution deal and I just followed Mark...At that point I wanted to sign with Def Jam or Capitol who was saying all these things they were gonna do for me. But it was like, 'Sign with Mark. Do Interscope.' That went left because when Mark signed the deal, Mark was hot as fish grease at that point. There was promises, he’s producer of the year. He did Amy Winehouse’s project so Jimmy Iovine is assuming that he gon’ come in and make hits for their artists. Read between the lines. So, who gotta suffer because of that?”