Wale’s last few years have been littered with turbulence. His 2015 effort, The Album About Nothing, lent him a reinvigorated streak of professional success, notching an instant No.1 on the Billboard Hot 200 and raking in praise as his best and most revelatory project to date.
His personal life, however, has been riddled with tragedy. The content that lurked beneath the record’s chart-topping allure was far from what the title might suggest, grappling with the D.C. rapper’s bleakest demons: a devastating miscarriage, a close friend’s sudden death, and drug and alcohol abuse amidst a barrage of rejection.
On his newest single, “My P.Y.T.,” Wale plots an über positive return, banishing the negative pathos that once plagued his thoughts.
“This recording process has changed my entire way of thinking,” the 31-year-old tells EW. “When I first came in the game I was young—22, 23-years-old—and I was wide-eyed and naïve. Somewhere over the course of these few years, I ultimately became jaded, and with that you start to focus on things that are more so detrimental to you than the things that build you up… [Now] I only want to give energy to things that are positive, and literally ignore everything else.”
“My P.Y.T.” mirrors Wale’s newfound perspective, revving through bouncy percussion and a boom-bap beat like an auto-tuned joyride. Its infectious hook comes courtesy of a household icon, the late Michael Jackson, and a chance meeting with his mother.
“The day I wrote this record, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Katherine Jackson, Michael Jackson’s mother, and it inspired me so much that it was pretty much all I could think about in the studio later that night,” Wale explains. “I wanted to pay homage to the legend that is Michael in some way, and the chorus popped into my head and just felt right with the music. It’s just one of those songs that’s been omnipresent in my life since I was a kid.”
Wale promises the same sort of sanguine outlook on his impending fifth record, slated for release this fall. “This is my first upbeat, ‘for the clubs’ record in years,” he says. “I’m coming back with an album of straight hits.”
Listen to “My P.Y.T.” below.