Coming off The Album About Nothing, a smash that took his conceptual fancy to the hilt, and the birth of his daughter -- for whom he wants to amass a fleet of luxury vehicles -- Wale reasonably takes a free, easy, more commercially minded approach for album five. Acronymic for "still here ignoring negative energy," Shine, loosely constructed with the rapper rarely in battle or even sparring mode, has no overarching theme beyond soundtracking good times. If anything, the program is maximized for streaming with numerous cross-cultural stylistic switch-ups and a lengthy register of producers and guest artists that might exceed that of The Gifted. There's a dancehall-flavored track co-produced by Diplo, a low-profile victory lap with Colombian star J Balvin, and a clutch of streamlined pop-oriented material led by "My PYT" (with bed springs less rusty and distracting than the ones heard throughout "Bad"). "Fine Girl," a romantic Afro-pop-laced club track featuring Davido and Olamide, is warmest of all, enhanced with an atmospheric assist from New Edition via "Can You Stand the Rain." At its most frustrating, the album's lightness results in the wasting of an exceptional Christian Rich production on the vapid "Fashion Week." Wale also sits out a sharp beat change that plays out toward the end of "CC White," which tweaks the "white woman as cocaine" (and vice versa) metaphor with high-quality wordplay. After "DNA," where Wale sounds like he's on the brink of nodding off during an almost interminable chorus, the album dramatically lifts. Sounding revitalized, projecting a mix of gratitude and disgust, Wale breathes new life into an old breakbeat (and a sample from Marvin Gaye's version of "I Wanna Be Where You Are") for a defiantly proud pro-black finale. It should be enough to retain the listeners who strongly prefer the more lyrical, less hedonistic aspects of the Wale discography.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman