Most of us love the hit comedy series Seinfeld. But rapper Wale really loves it.
“Nothing is realer than the awkwardness of some of those situations,” he says of the sitcom that inspired three of his albums: 2008’s The Mixtape About Nothing, 2010’s More About Nothing, and his upcoming The Album About Nothing.
The latest release is well timed, with 2014 marking the 25th anniversary of Seinfeld’s debut on NBC. “The first mixtape was about the industry,” details the pensive 30-year-old (whose real name is Olubowale Akintimehin) in a Los Angeles recording studio after a late-night session. “The second was a love story. This one is my relationship with the people who got me here.”
Wale’s Seinfeld-informed songs emphasize the lyricist’s ability to weave his sense of humor with a penchant for tackling racial and political issues. On his new album, Wale addresses the Trayvon Martin tragedy following a snippet of a rant by Jason Alexander’s character, George, about hopelessness. Like the actors on the show, Wale successfully blends heavy subject matter with hard- fought comedy, resulting in a hell of a good time. Danceable jam “The Tonight” incorporates funky go-go, a subgenre born in Wale’s hometown, Washington, D.C., in the mid-1960s. “I wanted to get back to the roots of where I came from,” he says.
Still, the sickest perk of titling your record The Album About Nothing is scoring studio time with Jerry Seinfeld himself. “He made an analogy about a glass egg and balancing certain things in his career when writing the show,” says Wale. “I just expanded on that.” Here, the rapper expounds on his top five Seinfeld moments.
NO SOUP FOR YOU (FROM “THE SOUP NAZI,” SEASON 7, EPISODE 6): “Everyone knows about the Soup Nazi: From when they are standing in line to when they approach the counter is comedic brilliance. We all have been on the wrong side of bad customer service, but sometimes you gotta just go with it to get what you want. It’s kinda like certain stores in SoHo [New York] that have dope clothing but really dismissive employees. If you want the clothes, you gotta play by their rules.”
GEORGE EATS GARBAGE (FROM “THE GYMNAST,” SEASON 6, EPISODE 6): “George getting caught by his girlfriend’s mom eating food out of the garbage was a wild and hilarious moment. Later on in the episode, she catches him wiping down a random car with a newspaper. It’s the perfect portrayal of how sometimes the people you most want to impress only catch you in your worst moments.”
VOICE-MAIL SWITCH (FROM “THE PHONE MESSAGE,” SEASON 2, EPISODE 7): “George leaving a crazy voice mail on his girlfriend’s machine is the modern-day version of drunk-texting your girl (or an ex). The dialogue between Jerry and George when they are in her apartment trying to switch tapes is genius.”
ELAINE CAN’T GET A DOCTOR (FROM “THE PACKAGE,” SEASON 8, EPISODE 5): “When Elaine couldn’t get a doctor to treat her rash because she was a ‘difficult’ patient was another wild moment. Somehow Uncle Leo ends up with Sharpie-drawn eyebrows, and Kramer becomes Dr. Van Nostrand—classic Seinfeld comedy. It also kind of makes you paranoid the next time you visit the doctor.”
MASTER OF MY DOMAIN (FROM “THE CONTEST,” SEASON 4, EPISODE 11): “This is probably my favorite episode of ll time. It’s a relatable story line [George, Jerry, Elaine, and Kramer compete to see who can go the longest without masturbating], but the circumstances are insane. It makes you think, ‘Would I be able to control myself in that situation?’ Would you?”
Text by Jessica Herndon. Photographed by Steven Taylor. Illustrations by Kelly Shami.