Wale brings D.C. hip-hop to Webster Hall on his ‘Under A Blue Moon’ tour

For one night, the rapper turned the East Village concert venue into a D.C. hip-hop block party.

Olubowale Victor Akintimehin, better known by his stage name Wale, performing on his Under A Blue Moon tour. (Photo by Emmanuel Agbeble)

Emmanuel Agbeble

Olubowale Victor Akintimehin, better known by his stage name Wale, performing on his ‘Under A Blue Moon’ tour. (Photo by Emmanuel Agbeble)

Destine Manson, Contributing Writer

A bed of roses covered by a large black sheet lay at the center of the stage. A leather chair peeked out from beneath the sheet as Wale’s first opener, Houston rapper Cam Wallace, performed. Next, I noticed yellow roses coming into view from the right side of the center set piece as the second opener, Oakland rapper Guapdad 4000, energized the audience. Finally, the black sheet was lifted to expose the set in all its yellow, blue and pink floral glory seconds before Wale waltzed onto the stage.

“I’m feeling kind of shy right now,” Wale said, covering his face with a bouquet of roses. 

New York City was one of the earliest stops on the tour celebrating the release of the D.C. rapper’s latest album, “Folarin ll.” The Grammy-nominated artist expressed excitement about performing his radio hits, which dominated the 2010s, after a year of canceled shows. Once Wale conquered his shyness, he kicked the show into high gear with a fan favorite from Jerry Seinfeld-narrated “The Album About Nothing.” 

The crowd sings along as Wale performs “The Need to Know.” (Photo by Emmanuel Agbeble)

The crowd sang along to the Musiq Soulchild-sampled chorus of “The Need to Know.” Wale interjected his philosophies about love and marriage throughout the night — two major themes of “The Album About Nothing.”

The venue went silent as Wale rapped “Dearly Beloved,” an ode to a lost love on her way to the altar. The track runs for only one minute and 49 seconds, but that’s all you need to hear before it gets you in your feelings. Wale raps with an even rhythm, articulating every lyric as if in conversation with his lover: “Dearly beloved was lucky to love you but I ain’t recovered yet / So maybe I’m jealous but slim in that tux doesn’t look like a level up.” 

Mimicking the cover of his album “Ambition,” Wale then turned to the left, head tilted to the sky under a single spotlight. He began to rap a cappella to the crowd. 

My favorite moment of the night was singing the chorus of the nostalgic radio hit “Lotus Flower Bomb.” Couples moved closer together as the bass rattled the floor. After the song ended, Wale took another moment for just him and the mic, urging the crowd to meditate on every bar.

Although he performed a lot of high-energy dance songs — such as his latest single “Poke it Out,” featuring J. Cole — the crowd roared the loudest during the songs he claimed were “for the ladies.” And, after every love song, he threw roses into the crowd. 

Known for his D.C. hip-hop beats, Wale is a Nigerian American rapper. (Photo by Emmanuel Agbeble)

“When you come to a Wale concert, you coming to a real hip hop show,” the D.C. rapper told the audience. True to hip-hop culture, Wale proudly repped his hometown. I had never heard D.C. go-go beats at a live concert prior to this show. The ones who recognized this funk-infused D.C. sound danced along with Wale.

Wale invited Guapdad 4000 — whom he called his favorite new artist — back on stage for the final song of the night. After an evening of questioning monogamy, twerking and throwing a fist in the air in celebration of being Black, the concert ended in a party. The crowd went into a frenzy not once but twice as Wale performed his verse from the club anthem “No Hands.” 

Wale promised us an authentic hip-hop experience. Ending in a celebration was the only way to do it. I left the show reluctantly, wanting to relish in the last few minutes of dancing and flashing lights before returning to the real world outside.

Contact Destine Manson at [email protected].