Wale was born Olubowale Victor Akintimehin in Washington, D.C. on September 21, 1984. His parents are of the Yoruba ethnic group of southwestern Nigeria and came to the United States from Austria in 1979. He has an older brother, Alvin who lives in New York City and has worked in A&R for such record labels as Tommy Boy Records and The Inc. Records, formerly known as Murder Inc. Although Alvin is not a part of his brother's management team, he is credited as getting the ball rolling for his brother's rise to fame. Wale's family first lived in the Gaithersburg, Maryland section of Montgomery County. He graduated from Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg, Maryland in 2001 before moving to Germantown, Maryland. Wale attended Robert Morris University and Virginia State University on chess scholarships, then transferred to Bowie State University but dropped out. Wale's love of the game of football and the Washington Redskins has led to a longstanding rumor that Wale had a tattoo of tight end Chris Cooley. He is also the cousin of actor Gbenga Akinnagbe.
Wale's first recording was called "Rhyme of the Century". It was his first song to ever be played on local radio. He was featured in the "Unsigned Hype" column of The Source magazine in 2006. He was signed to a local label called Studio 43 in 2006. "Dig Dug (Shake It)" became popular in Washington, D.C, Maryland and Virginia and was a tribute to Ronald "Dig Dug" Dixon, percussion player for the go-go band Northeast Groovers. The song became the most requested song by a local artist in D.C. radio history and Wale was the first local artist to get any BDS spins since DJ Kool in the early 1990s. The song was included in Wale's first mixtape, Paint a Picture.
In July 2006, Wale hired Daniel Weisman, a former club DJ and promoter, as his manager. In September 2006, after dropping another go-go influenced single, "Breakdown", sampled from Huck-a-Bucks "Sexy Girl" and getting a mention in The Washington Post, Wale released his first non-go-go original single, "Uptown Roamers." On September 14, 2006, "Uptown Roamers" debuted on XM Radio Channel 66 and was played twice in one day. Both "Breakdown" and "Uptown Roamers" were on Wale's second mixtape, Hate Is the New Love. Wale's song "Breakdown," was featured on the video game Madden NFL 2009.
Wale won the award for "D.C. Metro Breakthrough Artist of the Year" at WKYS's Go-Go Awards in November 2006. On December 15, The Fader magazine associate editor Nick "Catchdubs" Barat visited Wale for an interview and photo shoot which appeared in the March 2007 issue of The Fader.
In January 2007, Wale released a new single to radio called "Good Girls" produced by Gerard Thomas and Demario Bridges for TeamMusicGroup. Wale later appeared on Mark Ronson's remix of Lily Allen's "Smile" and was a headliner on Ronson's UK tour that year promoting Ronson's second album Version. In June 2007, Wale signed to a production deal with Ronson's Allido Records. In May 2010, Wale abruptly canceled a scheduled performance at DC Black Pride, an annual black gay pride event. In an email to the event's organizer, Wale's manager claimed he was unaware it was a gay event when he agreed to perform. However, on May 28, 2010, it was announced he would perform alongside the headliner for free.
National attention and major label signing
Wale released his third mixtape, 100 Miles & Running, on July 11, 2007 as a free download on his Myspace page. This mixtape includes features from Mark Ronson, Daniel Merriweather, Amy Winehouse, and Lily Allen. It was released on the same day as his performance at the Highline Ballroom, in Manhattan. The Highline show was to promote the US release of Mark Ronson's album and included performances by Mark Ronson, Wale, Saigon, and Daniel Merriweather. Jay-Z, Beyonce, Kanye West, Maroon 5, Clive Davis, Eve and Danny Masterson were all in attendance. There, Wale was interviewed by MTV News correspondent J.D. Tuminski for his first national TV feature on August 16, 2007. With Ronson, Wale performed "W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E.", a remix of Justice's "D.A.N.C.E." from Wale's 100 Miles mixtape, at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Washington Post profiled Wale on the front page of the Sunday Style section in the October 21, 2007 edition. Wale was featured on the cover of the 150th issue of URB along with French electro group Justice.
In March 2008, Wale signed a joint venture deal with Mark Ronson's Allido Records and Interscope, joining Rhymefest and Daniel Merriweather as Allido artists. Epic Records, Atlantic Records, and Def Jam all competed to sign Wale. On May 30, Wale released his fourth mixtapeThe Mixtape About Nothing, heavily produced by Best Kept Secret. Wale said that the television show Seinfeld inspired The Mixtape About Nothing: "the TV show's 'honest dialogue' mirrors his lyrical style, which frequently references pop culture and politics while avoiding gangster-rap bluster".
After signing with Interscope, Wale began recording tracks for his major label debut: in a 2008 interview with Express, a newspaper published by the Washington Post Company, Wale announced that he was recording a song with Chrisette Michele called "Shades", which discusses inter-black racism. Wale also appeared on Interscope label mate DJ Greg Street's single "Dope Boys" which samples Hip Hop classic T.R.O.Y. alongside Lupe Fiasco and Kardinal Offishall. Rapper Young Chris of rap duo Young Gunz also began plans for a collaboration mixtape with Wale.
On June 19, 2009, Wale released his fifth mixtape, Back to the Feature, on which eleven of the tracks were produced by 9th Wonder, with contributions also coming from Mark Ronson and others. The album's title, a play off the name of the movie Back to the Future, referred to the fact that a lengthy list of rappers joined Wale on the songs, including K'naan, Talib Kweli, Joell Ortiz, Beanie Sigel and Bun B. The mixtape received positive reviews from Vibe magazine and website Pitchfork Media, but Colin McGowan of Cokemachineglow commented that it represented neither "a step forward or back [for the artist] so much as shouting-in-place."
Wale did a guest performance on "Change", a song by the Australian singer/songwriter Daniel Merriweather. It was written by Merriweather and Andrew Wyatt and produced by Jayceon Dolinh and Mark Ronson. It was released on January 30, 2009, in the United States and Canada, and February 2, 2009, in the UK (where the song peaked at no.8). The song is included on Merriweather's album Love & War.
On September 13, Wale, alongside the DC-based musicians of UCB (Uncalled 4 Band)- The Board Administration artists , served as the official house band for the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.
On November 10, 2009 Wale's debut album, Attention Deficit, had primarily positive reception. It debuted at the number 21 spot and sold 28,000 copies in its first week. Daniel Weisman, Wale's manager, claimed that Interscope didn't ship enough copies of the album. The first single off Attention Deficit was "Chillin", featuring Lady Gaga, followed by "Pretty Girls" featuring Gucci Mane and Weensey and "World Tour" featuring Jazmine Sullivan. Other guest artists on the album included Pharrell; Bun B; Chrisette Michele; K'Naan; Marsha Ambrosius; J. Cole; and Melanie Fiona.
In March 2010, Rapper Wale announced he and K'Naan would kick off a short co-headlining tour across the east coast of the US, beginning at the end of March in New York City. According to Wale, he is in the studio with Gucci Mane, Waka Flocka Flame, Roscoe Dash, Sean Garrett, and Drumma Boy.
On August 3, 2010, Wale released sixth mixtape, "More About Nothing" hosted by DJ Omega a follow-up to his critically acclaimed "Mixtape About Nothing" under The Board Administration - an independent label co founded with Savvy Marketing Executive Le'Greg O. Harrison. "More About Nothing" took the internet by storm resulting in 100,000 plus downloads in 90 minutes. "More About Nothing" creatively integrates sitcom material with rhyme and wordplay to present Wale's frustrations on his plight to reach mainstream acceptance and success. Features include Wiz Khalifa, Waka Flocka, Daniel Merriweather, UCB, Board Administration Artists' Tiara Thomas, Black Cobain, Fat Trel, and NBA Player and DC Native Kevin Durant.
On February 5, 2011, during Super Bowl XVL festivities he announced his signing to artist Rick Ross, Maybach Music Group. He states that he will still continue to be able to put out the music that he believes in behind the support of Rick Ross.
In the last half of 2010, inspired by Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Fridays project, Wale started re-release a track from one of his previous mixtapes for free-download on his own website every Thursday, calling this enterprise "Throwback Thursday". From then, guests on those tracks included Bun B, Pusha T, John Mayer, Lil Wayne and K'Naan.
In early 2011, after weeks of speculation, it was confirmed that Wale signed to Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group label.
On May 6 2011 Wale revealed to MTV that he could release two albums in 2011 or in 2012