Johnny Nunez, WireImage
The D.C. native, wearing a camouflage Penfield vest, orange T-shirt and kicks with a fitting New York Knicks-inspired colorway, hit the stage close to 12:15AM, just shortly after the initial 12AM start time set for the Hot 97 and MySpace-sponsored event. After Hot 97 hosts Funkmaster Flex and Miss Info introduced the 27-year-old rhymer, whose sophomore album, 'Ambition,' still stood at No. 1 on the iTunes charts a day after its release, Wale ran out onstage to the sounds of 'Legendary.'
Shortly after dispensing his rhymes, his boss Rick Ross sauntered onto the stage behind him, a plastic cup filled with what appeared to be a brown liquor in his hand, a Notre Dame leather jacket covering his shoulders. The Maybach Music Group head honcho was joined by his newest recruit, the bearded MC Stalley -- later on, rappers Meek Mill, French Montana and Emilio Rojas showed face, the latter two not MMG signees yet but rumored to be joining the fold.
"I ain't talkin' too much," Wale shouted to the filled-to-capacity room of concertgoers, who held up camera phones, video cameras and even iPads to capture every lyrical moment he was about to bestow upon them. Moving into a song off his 'Attention Deficit' LP, 'Beautiful Bliss,' sans J. Cole and Melanie Fiona, a shades-wearing Ricky Rozay nodded his head in approval of the cynosure who was currently holding MMG's baton. The boastful anthem '600 Benz' followed, but Ross never once got on the mic, instead choosing to shout his lyrics and leave Wale to shine in the spotlight.
With dreadlocks swaying as he rocked both sides of the room from the edge of the stage, giving daps to eager fans reaching out to touch his hand, the energetic MC dropped '90210' -- conducting the crowd during the chorus like a maestro -- and a track off his 'The Eleven One Eleven Theory' mixtape, 'F--- You.'
"Ne-Yo couldn't be here tonight," Wale regretfully informed the audience as he began to rap the beginning lines of the 'Ambition' track 'White Linen (Coolin).' However, the audience erupted in cheers when the crooner, dressed in a black beanie and matching trench coat, actually cruised out from the shadows to sing his hook. Another singer blew fans away, this one decked out in a navy suit, shades and goes by the name of Miguel, joining the rapper for his part on the refreshing track 'Lotus Flower Bomb.'
Johnny Nunez, WireImage
The sneaker aficionado then asked for the house lights to be turned up and called on the crowd to show off their Jordans, Infrareds, Foamposites and the like -- his loyal supporters held one sneaker in the air while the other stayed firmly on the ground -- before hitting the track 'Fitted Cap.' Wale then welcomed French Montana to perform his bouncy street record 'Choppa Down.' Hailing from the Bronx, Montana had the hometown advantage and received a warm welcome but it was Meek who steered the guest spotlight in his direction when he took the screams to an ear-piercing decibel as he rapped through his heater 'I'ma Boss.'
Wale surely embraced his rap family during the hip-hop festivities and closed the night with a song that many were shocked he jumped on in the first place: Waka Flocka Flame's 'No Hands.' But as witnessed during his 'Ambition' release concert, the tattooed MC has a fondness for the element of surprise.