Wale was born to Nigerian parents in Washington, D.C. He grew up in Northwest D.C. and graduated from Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg in 2001, after which he moved to Largo, Maryland.
"Dig Dug (Shake It)" became popular in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. 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 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.
In early December 2006, Wale won the award for "D.C. Metro Breakthrough Artist of the Year" at WKYS' Go-Go Awards . 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. Daniel Weisman gave the song to Mark Ronson and on February 23, 2007, Ronson began playing the song on his East Village Radio show . A week later, at Ronson's studio, Wale recorded a freestyle for Ronson and in exchange, Ronson put Wale on an unreleased remix of Lily Allen's "Smile" which appeared on a number of music blogs around the world on March 13, 2007 . In April 2007, Ronson asked Wale to join him on a UK tour to promote the release of his newest album. In June 2007, Wale signed to a production deal with Ronson's Allido Records.
Wale released his third mixtape, 100 Miles & Running, on July 11, 2007 as a free download on his Myspace page. To date, the mixtape has been downloaded over 75,000 times. 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, which was released on August 16, 2007.
Wale performed "W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E.", from his 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 21st, 2007 edition. Wale is featured on the cover of URB's 150th issue along with French electro group, Justice.
In March Wale signed a joint venture deal with Mark Ronson's Allido Records and Interscope, joining Rhymefest and Daniel Merriweather as Allido artists.
On May 30, 2008, Wale released his 4th mixtape, The Mixtape About Nothing, for free through www.elitaste.com and 10deep.com in collaboration with the streetwear brands Commonwealth and 10 Deep. 10 Deep also released the "Serenity Now" tee in collaboration with Wale's release of this mixtape. Everyone who purchased the "Serenity Now" tee also received a hard copy of The Mixtape About Nothing. The majority of the mixtape was produced by DC's Best Kept Secret.
In the June issue of the German Hip-Hop magazine JUICE Wale announced that his upcoming debut-album will feature production credits from Mark Ronson, Kanye West, Just Blaze, 9th Wonder and the French electronic music duo Justice. In the June/July 2008 issue of Giant Magazine, Wale announced he is making a new mixtape called Back to the Feature, which will be produced by 9th Wonder.
In a recent interview with Washington Post's Express, Wale announced that he was recording a song with Chrisette Michele called "Shades" for his upcoming album, which discusses inter-black racism. Wale also said that similar content found in The Mixtape About Nothing will be on the album.
In a Elitaste interview, Young Chris said about Wale, "We're ready to do a mixtape together; we ain't got the name nor the DJ yet, but we've had some good talks and we'll get that mixtape out." His friendship with Young Chris also has led to his signing to Jay-Z's Roc Nation and has also led to Wale wearing the Roc-A-Fella chain as worn by Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella Records
Wale stopped into Travis Barker's studio in August 2008 to rap a verse for Travis' solo album, Travis then performed live drums on a Wale album cut, "G Told Me" produced by Sean C & LV ("Roc Boys").
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. He will also appear in the video with Alex Schild.
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 Talib Kweli, Joell Ortiz, Beanie Sigel and Bun B. The mixtape received several positive reviews, although at least one critic commented that it represented neither "a step forward or back [for the artist] so much as shouting-in-place."
Wale is featured in "Change" a song by the Australian singer/songwriter Daniel Merriweather. It was written by Merriweather and Andrew Wyatt and produced by 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 and War.