“More than just an impressive feat of musical dexterity, ‘Stoves’ is full of vulnerable, relatable lyrics that resonate on a personal and universal level.” – OnesToWatch
“I’m a big believer in ‘slowly but surely.’ I’m trying to build something genuine,” declares 23-year-old artist Wale the Sage. After achieving over 20 million streams from singles and viral success through TikTok and Shazam on his own, the Nigerian-born lyricist signed with Morray’s Pick Six Records. “It’s always about putting out good music. I want to put in the work. At the end of all of this, I want to feel like I made it.” Songs like 2021’s “Bleue” and “Do You Love You ?” presented a courageous artist with introspective songwriting and an exploratory sound. “I don’t want to put myself into a box. I want to make music of any genre; I just want to have fun making it.” In 2022, Wale the Sage will step forth with a debut project that takes his growing fanbase on a journey that showcases versatility and wisdom beyond his years.
In Nigeria, Wale Idris Onuzurike was raised by a mother and grandparents in a blended Christian and Muslim household. “My parents taught me to be open-minded to things,” he recalls. Despite that, he was sheltered from the goings-on in the street. Instead, the teen matured in a boarding school, where “it was every man for himself.” At 16, Wale was enrolled at Western Kentucky University. “I was the first person in my family to come to America; I had no other family on the entire continent,” Wale recalls. “I felt like if I messed it up, then I messed it up for everyone, so it was a lot of pressure.” While the teen assumed Kentucky would be like Atlanta or Los Angeles, he felt the culture shock and alienation right away. Being away from loved ones was one thing, but he endured countless questions about his home and thick accent. A fan of entertainers like Michael Jackson and Chris Brown, music became more of an escape. He studied hip-hop legends like Nas, 50 Cent, and Childish Gambino and began considering making music.
After a couple of years, circumstances changed in Wale’s life. His mother had fallen ill, and the soon-to-be 19-year-old had to leave college. Music helped him cope. “I worked at getting the flow, the cadence, and the balance right. It was like studying for me,” he explains. He used his Instagram name, inspired by the Naruto manga and being a Sagittarius. “When I felt good enough, I posted freestyles.” Those posts gave way to Wale the Sage’s first song, 2019’s “Family Ties.” The MC addressed growing up without a father and the environment that raised him. “I realized that this is something that I loved,” he says. The artist began performing at shows and releasing more singles. Tracks like 2020’s “Fear” and “This Thing Called Life” rewarded bold, confessional writing with a sizable following, passing the million mark. In 2021, Wale expanded with “Do You Love You ?” a bold question from a transparent artist. The DIY song achieved 100,000 streams in its first week and gained recognition on other platforms. TikTok, in particular, responded to that year’s “Bleue.” The song earned one million streams in its first week and did five times that on TikTok. “I’d just left this job that I hated; I was going through stuff at the time. I decided I should write a song about how I felt.” Many resonated with the Atlanta-based creator, and he landed on top official playlists on Spotify and Apple Music. “People knew the song, but did they know the artist? I want to change my family’s lives. That’s always been my goal. I’m not even close to where I want to be.”
After reaching 20 million streams organically on his own, Wale the Sage unlocked more potential. He had a Grammy-nominated, platinum artist in his corner. “The first time I spoke to Morray was way before I put out ‘Bleue.’ Out of everybody I spoke to, he just felt the most genuine,” he admits. “I wanted to take my music to the next level.” Wale joined Pick Six Records, where he felt a real connection among the founder, artists, and staff. Since then, Wale has maintained his creative control and release schedule, including “Hear Me Out,” “2.22,” and “Smoking On Soprano (S.O.S.).”—each expanding depth and range. “Now, I have to challenge myself, and put out a project,” he reveals. The artist is carefully crafting a 2022 debut that builds from sweet melodies to hard 808s and dark synths and lyrics to compliment that vast sonic scenery.