While his first two efforts were smart, clever, funny, and infectious, rapper Wale was never one known to offer rich insight, but on the opening number of the aptly titled The Gifted, he spits "The status got me trippin'/I like my bitch but I like these bitches on my dick be spittin'/Tell that you feelin' different, knowin' you the bread winner," and suddenly the hook of this great album reveals itself. Besides being solidly built and not overstuffed at 16 tracks long, The Gifted is the fascinating sound of the life of the party growing up, and that's as in "in the process," because there are still plenty of club bangers, strip-club jams, and irresponsible moments, and all of them are welcome. "LoveHate Thing" is a breezy summertime jam reminiscing with plenty of gun talk and reckless stories of youth, but the complicated Wale can look to his dangerous past with much love and much gratitude that he made it through those days alive. "Simple Man" is self-reflection with a head-nodding beat and some witty borrowing from 2Pac; then there's the great and quite big "Golden Salvation (Jesus Piece)," which juxtaposes lyrics about the Gospel and bling for a layered and interesting swagger fest. As beefy as it gets, "Rotation" is still the puff-puff-pass weed anthem stoners wish for, with "Bad" (featuring Rihanna), "Tired of Dreaming" (featuring Ne-Yo and Rick Ross), and "Clappers" (featuring Nicki Minaj and Juicy J) coming off as great bangers that don't squander their superstar guests. Names like Just Blaze, Lee Majors, Cardiak, and No Credit supply the beats for this more mature/still flashy release, all of it adding up to Wale's win number three.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries