Jerry Seinfeld on Wale: 'He's got that true artistic spirit'
This Tuesday sees the release of rapper Wale’s new album The Album About Nothing, which features ample contributions from comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Wale is no stranger to Seinfeld’s oeuvre—he has released a handful of mixtapes that incorporate stand-up bits and dialogue from Jerry’s all-time great sitcom. But this time the two actually worked together in the studio, and the result is one of the more thrillingly strange hip-hop collaborations in history.
On his way out of the country to some gigs in India, Seinfeld hopped on the phone with EW to chat about the project.
Entertainment Weekly: How and when did you first become aware of Wale’s interest in your work?
Jerry Seinfeld: I was aware of Wale through my wife, who was a fan of his. I got a message that he wanted to come to one of my shows and say hi. So he came to a show in Philly, and we met, and he was just a lovely guy. I got a big kick out of him. He’s funny and sweet and artistic, and then he told me he had this idea of doing some music around some Seinfeld stuff and my stand-up stuff, and I just thought that was hilariously appropriate.
What struck you about his work?
I’ve really never been around musicians in process. I know the comedy side of course, I’ve seen everything that has to do with that. But I always wondered, how do they write songs? How do they put music together? How do they figure out what to write with it, or what’s wrong with it? So the idea of working with him, who I liked anyway, was even more interesting. I thought, “This is an exciting new world.”
What was the biggest difference between putting together a song and putting together a stand-up act?
Lyrically it’s actually quite similar. The lyrics have to have a similar kind of discipline, in that you can’t waste a letter or a comma. Everything has to fit together like a perfect jigsaw to feel good. The music side I still don’t get, but I loved watching him do it. He has great people around him and I enjoyed spending time with them.
How did it actually work during the project? How did the back-and-forth go?
We would meet several times and just talk. You know, it doesn’t take much for a comedian to start spouting opinions about any sorts of nonsensical things, and that’s what he wanted. So we talked for a while, and some of the things we said in these little interviews in his studio he used, some stuff he took from my stand-up, and some stuff he took from the TV series.
And then he would bring it back to you?
Yeah, then he would musicalize it. I just got the album the other day, and haven’t had the chance to hear it. I can just feel he’s got that true artistic spirit. No matter what a person like that is doing, it’s just joyful to be around.
He’s committed to the work and the writing in a way I have heard you talk about great comedians.
I think there’s gotta be something to that part of it—that you love perfecting something, verbally speaking.
In talking to him, did he make you think about anything regarding Seinfeld in a different way?
Well, only in the fact that it reaches him in a different way. He’s a younger person and he’s coming from a different place, but he’s connecting with some of the silliness. I’ve always believed that comedy travels very well within the confines of one culture. It can go anywhere: young, old, and to any group.
Have you now found that you are much more popular in the hip-hop community?
Oh yes. In fact it’s all I’m going to be doing from now on. [Laughs] No, it really wasn’t the hip-hop thing as much as it was a Wale thing. It was something about him that I just found irresistible. So whatever he’s doing, I’d like to be part of that, but that doesn’t mean anything else.