Wale - Summer on Sunset-cover

Wale drops off a free mixtape, Summer on Sunset, ahead of his S.H.I.N.E. LP.

Wale wants a stake in 2016.

In an already big year for hip-hop music in general, the D.C. native and Maybach Music Group emcee is tossing his name into the hat, announcing the formal follow-up to his 2014 effort The Album About Nothing, in a new album, S.H.I.N.E. (Still Here Ignoring Negative Energy) coming later this year. The anticipation for S.H.I.N.E. is already growing by way of Wale’s last two singles, the smooth “Her Wave” and Sam Sneak-assisted Michael Jackson homage “My P.Y.T.” But before S.H.I.N.E. lands, Wale is giving fans and listeners something to make the wait more bearable.

On Friday, the D.C. rapper dropped Summer on Sunset, a completely free mixtape for the public. Clocking in 17 tracks deep, Summer on Sunset almost seems built like an album due to its array of guests. On the production front, Jake One, DJ Mustard, (Houston’s own!) DJ Chose, Marce Reazon, Kris Minor, and Lee Major, to name a few, are on the boards, with each track coming from a different producer or set of boardmen. Features, on the other hand, include Eric Bellinger, Victoria Monet, Ty Dolla $ign, Phil Ade, and Cam’ron.

As its cover artwork suggests, Summer on Sunset encompasses many places and facets of Wale’s personality – his wrestling fanhood (“Smackdown/Raw,” on which actual WWE commentator Jim Ross appears), for example, and his move to the Left Coast (“L.A.X.”). There are clever voicemail “interludes” between tracks (one of which comes from Timbaland) and contains a number of keepers. “Drunk & Conceited” may end up on many summer playlists. The Cam’ron-featured “B*tches Like You” is soulful and spiteful (while also resurrecting vintage Killa Cam). Wale even lets his vocals go to work on the slowed-down “Pyramids.”

But Summer on Sunset also has the rapper testing waters in different kinds of sounds. “It’s Too Late” has Wale slipping underneath a trap beat. He’s an East Coast rapper flirting with West Coast sound on the double whammy of the DJ Mustard-produced “Thought It” and Tha Dog Pound-assisted “Gangsta Boogie.” And “Losing,” featuring Victoria Monet, almost has a ’80s feel to it, with Folarin catering his flow to Marce Reazon’s steadily-tapping snares. It makes one wonder if more of this “experimental” approach will surface on S.H.I.N.E.

Stream & download Wale’s Summer on Sunset mixtape for yourself down below. Wale’s S.H.I.N.E. LP is slated to arrive later this year.