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Before Wale, Washington DC had the strange status of being the only major American city never to produce a significant hip-hop star—and although that’s a tough metric to measure, both Rick Ross (who signed Wale) and 1.3 million twitter followers might argue that the time is now. Wale’s nothing if not a strategist; he first broke nationally in 2008 with his very audience-friendly Seinfeld-themed mixtape “about nothing” and even then he had a plan, which was to do everything he wanted—ballads, bangers, his hometown’s traditional go-go music—and make it work, thanks to that age-old combo of guts and technique. Turns out his new album Ambition delivers, showcasing Wale as a (wildly) versatile and completely committed hip-hop artist who can switch between the soft (“Lotus Flower Bomb,” which sounds way more flower than bomb) and the hard (“Chain Music”) instantly.
Sun., Nov. 20, 7 p.m., 2011

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