Wow… That’s Mani

A month ago today, I decided to dive into the minds of 4 different black men to discuss Wale’s last album in depth in my post, “Wow… That’s Black Men.”

I loved the idea of putting other people’s perspectives on my platform, and while it was well received with my readers some still reached out to me in hopes to hear my answers. So, I thought it’s time to share them and spill the tea. Take a look as I talk about topics related to “Wow… That’s Crazy” in this album review mixed with a little self-reflection.

Let’s start with explaining which song you relate to most on “Wow… That’s Crazy.”

I fell in love with “Love Me Nina/Semiautomatic” as soon as I heard it. The fact that he used a gun as a metaphor for his mind was fire, and also something I could relate to. As a creative that’s been trying to break through in a career where I can fully express myself, I feel stifled at times. I have all these ideas I want to unload and while I’m a sharp shooter, it’s like I have to be on safety. A few of those lines stuck out to me like when Wale said, “I speak how I feel, I feel like a gun/ Yeah, a semi-auto with a novice aim/ A lot of thoughts and a lot of pain/ My ammunition come from all your hate/ My brain a loaded semi, I’m too offended to concentrate” and “But my aim different, I’m way too brilliant to shank niggas.” And aside from that I feel like I have so much on my mind and don’t get it out enough, that when I finally open up, I let it ALL out.

In the intro track titled “Sue Me,” Wale mentions not receiving enough affection growing up in a Nigerian household and how it attributes to his self-love today. Is this similar to your upbringing? Would you say it affects you today as an adult?

This wasn’t exactly my upbringing. My mom’s side of the family had a huge hand in my childhood, and still do, and we never hesitate to hug, kiss and say “I love yous” to each other. My dad’s side of the family, however, is different, it wasn’t heard as often with them, it was definitely felt though.

Growing up with my grandmother on my mom’s side she would always instill confidence in me. She made me feel like there was nothing I couldn’t do. She was always affirming and reassuring me that I was beautiful, intelligent, all that stuff grandmas are supposed to say. But after she died when I was 9 and I started living with my dad, I wasn’t used to hearing those things anymore. I feel like a certain part of me died with her. If anything I got to a certain age and felt like nothing I can do is right in his eyes. I still feel that way. I mean..I know he loves me but my dad’s the tough love type. I have to remind him a lot of the time like, “Yo, you’re raising a young woman and you’re gonna talk to me like one.” He can be mad militant and stern sometimes and that’s cool cause I need structure in my life, but I also need the warm and fuzziness too. He’s always been a present parent, but sometimes I feel if he could’ve connected with me on a more emotional level when I was an adolescent I could receive things differently. and not be so hard on myself as an adult now.

I think Wale’s best work involves describing situations in song about love and love lost. On this album he specifically shares how his mental wellness directly correlates to his dating life in songs like “Cliche” and “Expectations.” What’s your relationship status? How would you say your mental wellness plays a part in your romantic life currently?

I’m single and part of the reason why that’s my current status is because for a long time I felt like I needed to get myself together before my next relationship. I truly enjoy my solitude and only worrying about my thoughts and feelings. For the last 5 years, I’ve developed a busy schedule holding more than one job, a bad spending habit, and a serious fear of commitment. I didn’t want all those problems to burden the next guy. I internalize a lot of my self-doubt and it fucks with my mental a lot. Plus the last serious relationship I was in my boyfriend left me for someone else with no explanation and it had me feeling inadequate. I’m over it now though. I may be a lot of things but I’m also THAT BITCH. Now, I’m at a point where I realize that just because I’m not perfect doesn’t mean I’m not worth the love I deserve. I’m working through this fear of abandonment and fear of failure. I’m scared that I would fail whoever would choose to be with me later down the line and get left all over again.

Is this an album you can see yourself revisiting? Why or not?

HA! I’ve replayed this shit so many times I need to change the title to “Wow… AGAIN?!” It mirrors a lot of things I deal with as well.

Do you have any connections to hip-hop songs on mental health?

PLENTY! A lot of the time I put weight on my mental wellness because I’m not where I want to be in life and stress out over finances. I look to hip-hop songs to explain what I’m trying to say out loud but can’t. Some that come to mind instantly are “Too Much” by Drake and “Blessed” by Schoolboy Q. J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive took me through a rough time after graduating, I wrote about it too. WHEW and how could I forget “FEEL” by Kendrick Lamar. “Pursuit of Happiness” by Kid Cudi was my angst-y teenage anthem. I could make a whole list of other Wale songs that express my mindset and refer to my frustrations with relationships like the “It’s Complicated” EP. I could go on forever…

There’s a stigma against seeking therapy in the black community, especially in terms of black men. Are you open to see a therapist?

I’m looking for one currently, one that takes my insurance and is a black woman. No shade to anyone else but if I’m spilling out all my stuff, I want to feel comfortable any way possible.

What’s your therapy?

Writing in my journal has been amazing. I’m in my head a lot so organizing my thoughts on paper helps me sort them out. Spending time with my friends and family and talking to them is therapeutic. I don’t tell them every single thing but I tell them a lot. This blog is my therapy when I’m not stressing over it. Napping and eating isn’t technically therapy but it can feel like they’re just what my soul needs at times. If I had the means shopping would be my therapy!

With this being Wale’s sixth album, listeners know him for opening up time and time again. However, what’s a message you get from this type of album this time around?

Overall I get a message of “I’m a work in progress, but the work is workin.” I got a sense of how your mental health affects so many aspects in your life, especially your love life. I hear a lot of growth and self-awareness. I also hear someone who’s no longer ashamed of it and one who wants his listeners to know there’s a method behind his madness. This is in no way shape or form his most vulnerable moment because he’s gone there often times before. But this is a body of work holding the most magnitude involving mental wellness.

If you could give this album your own title to sum it up, what would it be? 

I’d call it “Ricochet,” based on the analogy in “Semiautomatic” when he compared his mindset to one. His actions have a reaction, much like when bullets bounce off of things. The reason he lashes out or has tumultuous relationships or any other thing in his life is all because of his mental wellness.

Would you Sue Me for sharing ? Tell me your takes in a comment below.

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