Review: Pusha T – My Name is My Name
The Clipse have always been one of those groups that came out of nowhere and was able to maintain a cult following while flirting with commercial success. They could be spitting the dirtiest drug-dealer raps but thanks to a couple funky basslines from The Neptunes, their sound goes further. Kanye noticed, and for the last couple of years, Pusha T’s been working OT to be who he is but to do it by himself. With no Malice to bounce verses off of, Pusha T’s been in uncharted territory, but proved it was nothing he couldn’t handle with his Fear of God mixtapes. With an official album dropping on Def Jam, the biggest challenge facing the Virginia product is doing what he does best, by himself, without getting sucked too far into the major label machine of crossover hits, radio singles, and awkward collaborations “just because.”
The album starts out strong with “King Push,” as “. It’s that classic Clipse vibe that continues into “Numbers on the Board,” where Don Cannon and Pusha T strike audio gold with the strongest cut on the album.
“Nosetalgia” is another track that makes the album worth copping and makes songs like “Let Me Love You” with Kelly Rowland forgivable. “The Black Ferris Bueller’s” at his lyrical best over smoky horns and a lingering bassline while Kendrick comes in to do his thing, even if he’s still got that underwater filter on his vocals that make him sound extra angry. Just ‘cause it worked on “Control” doesn’t mean it’s going to work every time. And on a side note, it’s gonna be real interesting to see where Kendrick is trying to go with this Drake diss. It’s one thing to be competitive with your peers and not want to be outshined, it’s another to just start some random beef like a crazy person yelling on the subway. If “Hold On” is an interesting contrast between two rappers that couldn’t be more different yet share many of the same fans. King Push enlists a verse from Rick Ross, and the chemistry couldn’t be more awkward. There’s two MCs who’ve carved their path with drug raps, while one tried to make it sound as realistic as possible while the other, yeah, that one from the 305, has exaggerated so much the old time minstrel actors are yelling from their grave to chill out.
Gotta give King Push props for going first on “Who I Am,” since we can all fast-forward after his verse. It’s hard to take a beat this grimy and mess it up, but give 2Chainz and Big Sean an open verse and they’re able to do it. What always made The Clipse great was how much they kept their work in-house. If it wasn’t Pusha T and Malice, then you knew it was gonna be someone like Ab-Liva, who would body it. Doing this on Def Jam means you’ve gotta play their game, and a big part of that is giving their tax write-offs some shine.
Pusha T doesn’t abandon the minimalist sound that made him everyone’s loveable pusher. With Kanye co-producing most of the album, as well as taking executive producer credits, Pusha’s sound moves in a direction similar to his Fear of God mixtapes, which is like a blend of the classic Clipse sound meticulously crafted by The Neptunes along with finding his own lane as a solo artist. Unfortuntaely, Def Jam doesn’t realize that Pusha T’s always been at his best when he wasn’t trying to have radio hits. The hits were hits just for that reason. Probably the most frustrating element about this album is not that it’s not a Clipse album (I’m past that, well, mostly), but that King Push is such a master of broaching dark topics in that calm, cold voice that finds some way to not be detached, not to mention with the flawless delivery, that it’s hard to take him seriously when he’s rapping about being “Daddy Day Care” to Kelly Rowland. But even missteps like that aren’t enough to take this out of rotation, even if I’m still holding out hope for another We Got it 4 Cheap.