by Michaella Solar-March in New Music on Wednesday 8 July 2009

More often than not, internet-only hip hop mix tapes are released by wannabe rappers whose lyrics and delivery are derivative and uninspired, and who’ll never get enough weight behind them for a full length release. 24 year-old Washington MC Wale Folarin is different. Mixed by one of New York’s best hip hop DJs, Nick Catchdubs, and produced by 9th Wonder and Mark Ronson (who signed Wale in 2007 to his Allido label), his latest offering Back To The Feature solidifies Wale as a confident, engaging lyricist with a true talent for cross-genre appropriations.

A third of the way through ‘Back To…’, Wale recalls the hype surrounding his previous release, saying he never intended to make what critics named “the mix tape of the year … the monumental mix tape of the moment”, but just wanted to release his raps. By borrowing other musician’s tunes and making them his own, Wale’s post-modern approach celebrates the wonderful immediacy of online mix tape culture, being the best method for fans to access their favourite artists’ music as quickly as possible without costing anyone a cent.

After collaborations with Jean Grae and Lady Ga Ga, sponsorship deals with Nike, Stussy and 10 Deep, and praise from everyone Rolling Stone Magazine to The New York Times, Wale is one of the shining stars of contemporary independent hip hop whose talent and crossover appeal is sure to rocket him to superstardom.