The 1990s TV program Seinfeld was, according to its premise, a show about nothing.
Everyday situations such as rivalries between old men and eating the tops of muffins, in Jerry Seinfeld’s worldview, came to embody major existential crises. The Seinfeld outlook offered a neurotic, cerebral way of living one’s life–and it sparked millions of Americans, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, to identify with the characters’ uber-Jewish stereotypes.
One of those people was Washington, D.C.-area rapper Wale (pronounced Wah-lay). A thoughtful M.C. who espouses an intellectual side of hip-hop, he crafted an album–titled Mixtape about Nothing–using recordings of dialogue and musical samples from Seinfeld.
“What’s the deal with this rap stuff?” Wale muses in the album’s opening verse, then proceeds to question the priorities of politicians, bloggers, rappers, and people in line at the DMV–asking the profoundest of all Seinfeld’s existential questions: Why are we so concerned with nothing? (The song’s backing music, naturally, is a remixed version of Seinfeld’s theme song.)
With this as a mission statement, Wale goes through 19 tracks of Seinfeld- and nothing-inspired riffs. Seinfeld actor Julia Louis-Dreyfuss even makes a cameo on one song–but the spotlight remains clearly on Wale and his musings. “If you love substance,” he boasts on one song, “then you’ll love Wale. But most people love nothing; that’s why I made this tape.”