Ambition (Wale album)

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Studio album by Wale
Released November 1, 2011 (2011-11-01)
Recorded 2010–11
Genre Hip hop
Length 60:10
Label Maybach Music, Warner Bros.
Producer Chris Barz, Cloudeater, Deputy, Diplo, DJ Toomp, Jerrin Howard, Kore, Lex Luger, Mark Henry, Tha Bizness, T-Minus, Tone P
Wale chronology
Attention Deficit
The Gifted
Singles from Ambition
  1. "Chain Music"
    Released: September 2, 2011 (2011-09-02)
  2. "Bait"
    Released: September 2, 2011 (2011-09-02)
  3. "Lotus Flower Bomb"
    Released: October 11, 2011 (2011-10-11)
  4. "Sabotage"
    Released: January 31, 2012 (2012-01-31)

Ambition is the second studio album by American hip hop artist Wale; it was released on November 1, 2011, by Maybach Music Group and Warner Bros. Records.[1][2][3] The album serves as the follow-up to his debut album, Attention Deficit (2009). The album features guest appearances from Rick Ross, Lloyd, Ne-Yo, Big Sean, Miguel, Meek Mill, Kid Cudi, and Jeremih.

The album was supported by four official singles— "Chain Music", "Bait", Lotus Flower Bomb" and "Sabotage", along with the promotional singles "Bad Girls Club" and "Focused". Upon its release Ambition received generally positive reviews from music critics. The album debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 164,000 copies in its first week. As of June 2013, the album has sold over 482,000 copies in the United States.


On July 20, 2011, Wale began releasing video blogs titled "#Nodaysoff Vlog: Wale – The Making of 'Ambition'" through the Maybach Music Group YouTube channel.[4] In August 2011, in an interview with HipHopDX, Wale spoke about how the album is the best music he's ever made, saying: "I’m putting out 10 new songs when I get up to a million follower on Twitter - [songs not from] the album. And I got a lot of freestyles, some classic shit, not playing no more. It’s been too… I feel like I’m one of the best, you know? And I wanna give my fans a reason to brag now like, "Yo, this is what I like Wale the most." A lot of niggas is nice, I’m just tryin' to take it up a notch like, we is working. I’m working vigorously. I’m mentally getting right. Working out, getting physically right. Reading more, I’m back to the old me. The vigor that I had with 100 Miles & Running is like, all over the album, it’s the best music I’ve ever made in my life and I mean that."[5]

In the same interview, he spoke about his mindset on the album, saying:

"End all, be all. You. I want to have this conversation with everybody who asks me that question. You. A lot of people would kill to be where you at, right? But you would kill seven motherfuckers to get to where you wanna go in your mind. It’s a stepping stone. Young niggas really gotta get on they shit, for real. Whether you in the league, you playing basketball, whether you selling dope, whether you in school… We gotta get on our shit! Our parents ain’t have no m'fuckin' e-mail, m'fuckers had to memorize numbers and… The least we can do is grind! How many young Lyor Cohens you see? How many young Diddys you see? None! A lot of young niggas is in it right now as if they only wanna be in it temporarily, I want it forever! Fuck the money, fuck the fame, I want niggas to say, "You know what? Wale make that… Psssh… Man… For real. For years. I love this nigga's music." Young niggas don’t aspire to be legendary no more. They don’t. Niggas our age are so consumed in the now. That’s why they follow trends. That’s why they do little akee shit, weirdo shit…know what I’m saying? Young niggas don’t want shit but "now." The temporary riches, like, I want the forever, I want the forever glory. Temporary riches is nothing to forever glory. That’s what we striving for, that’s what Ambition is."[5]

On August 22, 2011, in an interview with MTV, Wale revealed he and Kid Cudi reconciled and were working on a song for the album, tentatively titled "Focused".[6] This was the first time Wale and Kid Cudi collaborated musically since the release of "Is There Any Love?" in 2008.[7] The two were previously not working together, because of a small falling-out that they had in September 2010.[7] On September 28, 2011, through his Twitter feed, Wale announced he officially completed the album.[8] In October 2011, in an interview with Complex, Wale spoke about the album, saying: "The defining moment of my career will be Ambition.. [The album] is complete and I have every intention of making this a classic album. I was telling Drake the other day, a lot of the people that came before us worked a lot harder and things didn’t come as easy to them."[9] In the same interview, he spoke about the song "Ambition", saying: "Ambition" is a record that’s on the album that’s very important because it’s the title track. The most famous rapper on the album is obviously Rick Ross, so I wanted him to bring a lot of attention to "Ambition" because it’s what the album is about. I also wanted my fans to hear another side of Rick Ross. He touches on some things that he never really spoke on before on that verse."[9] He also spoke about working with DJ Toomp on the album, saying: "[I worked with the] legendary DJ Toomp on the album. I’m 100% sure Toomp is someone I will be working with a lot in the future. One of the album’s most [important] records is ‘Legendary,’ which Toomp produced. All I got to say is, if I only got three minutes and 30 seconds, ‘Legendary’ is what I would want them to listen to."[9]


On August 17, 2011, Wale released a mixtape, titled The Eleven One Eleven Theory, in reference to Ambition's release date. The mixtape features production from DJ Toomp, Sonny Digital, and Tone P, and features songs such as "Bait", "Chain Music" and the single "That Way".[10] In 2011, to promote Ambition, Wale went on the Ambition Tour from October 2, 2011 to December 8, 2011.[11] It started in Minneapolis, Minnesota and ended in Atlanta, Georgia.[11] The tour featured Black Cobain from The Board Administration as the opening act.[11]


The album's lead single "Chain Music", was released to digital retailers on September 2, 2011.[12] On December 15, 2011, the music video was released for "Chain Music".[13]

The album's second single "Bait", released to digital retailers on September 2, 2011.[14] On October 20, 2011, the music video was released for "Bait".[15]

The album's third single "Lotus Flower Bomb" featuring Miguel, was released to digital retailers on October 11, 2011.[16] On November 15, 2011, the music video was released for "Lotus Flower Bomb" featuring Miguel.[17]

"Sabotage" featuring Lloyd was released to US urban radio as the album's fourth single on January 31, 2012.[18] On March 20, 2012, the music video was released for "Sabotage" featuring Lloyd.[19]

Promotional singles[edit]

The album's promotional single, "Bad Girls Club" featuring J. Cole was released on June 15, 2011.[20] On November 1, 2011, the music video was released for "Bad Girls Club" featuring J. Cole.[21]

The album's second promotional single, "Focused" featuring Kid Cudi was released to digital retailers on October 19, 2011.[22]

Other songs[edit]

On February 19, 2012, the music video for "Slight Work" featuring Big Sean was released.[23] On March 13, 2012, the music video for "Ambition" featuring Meek Mill and Rick Ross was released.[24]


Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic (69/100)[25]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllHipHop (7/10)[26]
AllMusic 4/5 stars[27]
Consequence of Sound 3.5/5 stars[28]
HipHopDX 4/5 stars[29]
Paste (5.6/10)[30]
Pitchfork Media (6.7/10.0)[31]
PopMatters (5/10)[32]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[33]
Slant Magazine 3/5 stars[34]
XXL 4/5 stars (XL)[35]

Upon its release, Ambition received generally positive reviews from music critics.[25] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 69, based on 15 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable review".[25] David Jeffries of AllMusic gave the album four out of five stars, saying "As far as why it all hangs together so well, credit goes to Wale’s talent and his strong personality, which here has grown into an interesting combination of Lil Wayne and Plies, with a little 50 Cent smirk and bit of Drake’s phrasing thrown in for good measure."[27] Adam Kivel of Consequence of Sound gave the album three and a half stars out of five, saying "Wale is a strong lyricist, one that conveys an inner vision far better than most in the game. Combined with a good ear for beats, this makes Ambition a strong sophomore release, one that shouldn’t disappoint old fans while drawing in new ones."[28] Edwin Ortiz of HipHopDX gave the album four out of five stars, saying "With a tight-knit collection of features and palpable confidence exuded in his lyrics, Ambition is Wale’s most cohesive and likewise enthralling project thus far in his brisk career. As such, the magnitude of this album rests in the hook of the title-track. Wale doesn’t expect every fan to symbolize their appreciation with a SoundScan; just don’t hold your applause."[29] Luke Winkie of Paste gave the album a 5.6 out of 10, saying "It’s just not very fun. Wale’s conversion to Ross’ braggy rap-excess didn’t seem like a great idea in theory, and stretched out to an hour his updated, devolved craft starts to wear thin very, very quickly. He doesn’t have the same fire, conviction, or really any feasible statement of purpose. Competently dull in the worst ways possible and even further removed from the things that made him special in the first place, Wale may have found a permanent home within the Maybach family, but his top-tier dreams (or ambitions if you must) seem to be long gone."[30]

Simon Vozick-Levinson of Rolling Stone gave the album three out of five stars, saying "He's too quick to reach for sexist clichés; cheap shots at groupies and gold diggers undercut moments of real emotion. What Wale lusts for most of all is respect. "Fuck fame, fuck money," he declares. "I'm just trying to be legendary." Someday, maybe, but not quite yet."[33] The A.V. Club gave the album a B, saying "In its efforts to woo women listeners, Ambition softens some of the harder edges from Maybach’s other releases, but Ross’ rotund shadow looms large over the record nonetheless. The mogul gets feature credits on two songs, and even on a couple of tracks he isn’t billed on. He’s there in the background, grunting approvingly, reminding everybody who made this possible."[36] David Amidon of PopMatters gave the album a five out of ten, saying "There’s also no risks taken here compared to his debut. Instead, Ambition gives us pretty much the same song over and over again with just a few variations on the template, and feels like the hip-hop equivalent of listening to some pop rock band’s album who you’d never have guessed was being bet on by a major unless you were told. The music’s efficient and there’s literally nothing to get annoyed or disgusted by (unless "Illest Bitch" weirds you out for his calling his sister in a bitch in a positive context) and so Ambition leaves listeners to answer the simple question of whether they want an exceptionally unchallenging album to listen to for an hour or not. I’ll just take the highlights."[32]

Adam Fleischer of XXL gave the album an XL, saying "The sonic mood of Ambition reflects its title and author and proves, on the whole, far warmer than his debut. On the title track, he raps, "They gon’ love me for my ambition/Easy to dream a dream, though it’s harder to live it." Wale seems to be living his on this sophomore album."[35] Jon Garcia of AllHipHop gave the album a seven out of ten, saying "Ambition is a pretty decent album – but it won’t stick out the way his early mixtapes did. Is he "Focused" like Cudi says? Perhaps, but true Wale fans will look for more substance and clashing drums on his projects. At least you’ll have the wordplay to hold you over."[26] Jesal Padania of RapReviews gave the album a 6.5 out of 10, saying "To be honest, "You will enjoy it for a while, and in a year, I guarantee that you will not be listening to it, save for a few songs (such as "Legendary" and "Ambition"). The quality of the music reflects this, as does the depth of Wale's subject matter. But Big Macs are still enjoyable in their own way, as is this album."[37] Matthew Cole of Slant Magazine gave the album three out of five stars, saying "Where Jay-Z excels at bragging about his career and Drake makes whining about his fame seem insightful, when Wale starts sweating his legacy, he instantly stops being fun to listen to. For an album so obsessed with the amount of willpower that was poured into it, Ambition doesn't even secure Wale the Most Improved Rapper award, let alone the Most Likely to Succeed."[34]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number 2 on the US Billboard 200, selling 164,000 copies in the first-week.[38] As of June 2013, the album has sold 482,000 copies in the United States.[39]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Producer(s) Length
1. "Don't Hold Your Applause"   Tone P., Chris Barz 3:14
2. "Double M Genius"   Mark Henry, EnDuhStreatZ (co.) 2:48
3. "Miami Nights"   Mark Henry, Dre King (co.) 3:36
4. "Legendary"   DJ Toomp, Lil' Lody (add.) 5:04
5. "Lotus Flower Bomb" (featuring Miguel) Jerrin Howard 3:33
6. "Chain Music"   Tone P. 3:20
7. "Focused" (featuring Kid Cudi) Kore 3:32
8. "Sabotage" (featuring Lloyd) Cloudeater 5:28
9. "White Linen (Coolin')" (featuring Ne-Yo) Deputy 3:37
10. "Slight Work" (featuring Big Sean) Diplo 3:39
11. "Ambition" (featuring Meek Mill & Rick Ross) T-Minus 5:02
12. "Illest Bitch"   Tha Bizness 4:16
13. "No Days Off"   DJ Toomp 3:35
14. "DC or Nothing"   Tone P. 4:58
15. "That Way" (featuring Jeremih & Rick Ross) Lex Luger 4:29
Total length:
Sample credits


Chart (2011) Peak
US Billboard 200[41] 2
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[42] 1
US Top Rap Albums (Billboard)[43] 1
Canadian Albums Chart[44] 77


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