Last week saw the release of Wale's new mixtape, The Mixtape About Nothing. If you haven't read it already, the Passion of the Weiss blog has an excellent post up that both summarizes the importance of mixtapes in general (including a brief history lesson) and explains why Wale's is damn near impeccable and absolutely essential.

I saw Wale at Noise Pop this past year, and, sad to say, I was way under-impressed. I caught about two or three songs but they were so lackluster and boring I found myself looking for the nearest bar real fast. Good thing I didn't write him off completely, though, because otherwise I wouldn't have bothered to listen to The Mixtape About Nothing. It's actually hard to think about that guy I was bored with at Noise Pop being the same guy on this album: that's how strikingly good it is.

And yes, if you couldn't tell, that "mixtape about nothing" is a Seinfeld reference. On the first track, "The Opening Title Sequence" (MP3 below), Wale raps over a Seinfeld-theme sampled beat with a whole list of "what's the deal" scenarios that would make Jerry himself proud:

"What's the deal with this rap stuff?

Since Napster the sales been crashing and

since Napster the game's been flooded by has beens and never will be ringtone rappers.
What's the deal with these ringtones?"

That's only the first few lines.

From there, Wale sticks his nose in just about everything: race, relationships, pop culture, sports, and Garfield. On standout track "The Kramer", he samples the racist tirade by Michael Richards and then goes into easily one of the best songs on race relations in recent memory. Don't let the title mislead you: he may claim the mix is about nothing, but that couldn't be farther from the truth.

Front to back, this thing is fantastic, and is absolutely required listening. It's far and away one of the most exciting things I've heard out of hip hop this year, and Wale is definitely on a pretty strong trajectory to being one of the best rappers around. Let's just hope his new album can live up to the high standard he just set for himself.

Wale - "The Opening Title Sequence"

You can download the entire mixtape from Elitaste.