Release Date: Nov 8, 2011
Record label: DECON
Genre(s): Rap, Gangsta Rap, East Coast Rap, Hardcore Rap
In the Clipse, Pusha T and brother Malice rode icy Neptunes beats to fame without compromising their drug-dealer narratives. But on this EP, Pusha employs dramatic Southern-rap synths and churning bass lines, and ends up getting outshined by guests like Kanye West. Pusha is too reserved to pull off the revamped sound – he's more Raekwon than Rick Ross, better suited to quick-tongued storytelling than to bombast.
It makes perfect sense that Clipse member Pusha T officially launched his career via G.O.O.D. Music, Kanye West’s label. After all, Pusha’s style is a grimmer, more street version of West’s, and they’re equally loud, equally unashamed, and equally skilled when it comes to rockin’ the party or getting the thugs’ heads to nod. Here, the superb “Trouble on My Mind” does it all at once with an irresistible hook, a Neptunes beat so chilly it is Mobb Deep-worthy, and a brilliant, pre-heist pep talk from Pusha that seamlessly goes from Obama, to college mascots, to “when you add fame, that’s a whole ‘nother devil,” to a guest shot from a grumbling Tyler, the Creator.
As a solo artist, Pusha-T has a home in popular rap, but that doesn't mean he also isn't out of place. After an infamously torturous decade or so in the industry, Pusha now resides comfortably at G.O.O.D. Music, the imprint run by Kanye West that most notably houses guys like Common, Kid Cudi, and Big Sean. Pusha is the only guy remotely resembling a street rapper at the label, and though it's hard to figure out exactly what role he plays in the context of the label or even the genre writ large, it's a marriage that probably makes more sense than not.
Having spent most of the last decade as an underground king and one half of Clipse, Pusha T excited rap fans last year when he joined Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music imprint and began experiencing stardom. His official solo debut is still a work in progress, but he’s managed to keep his momentum with a number of high-profile guest verses and a well-received mixtape earlier this year.
We have Kanye West to thank for this. After close to 15 years spent as the more interesting half of Clipse, Pusha T has refashioned himself as a solo artist, asking you to take interest in what amounts to mediocre Clipse songs with only one rapper. Kanye signed Pusha to his G.O.O.D. music label after his star turn on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (more on this later), and since his brother Malice is content to spend his time atoning—via biographies heavy on religion—for his sins, we have this, Fear of God II: Let Us Pray.
Having spent ten years as one-half of Clipse, a hard-as-nails Virginian duo whose tales of drug pushing and dope dealing earned them the first contract on The Neptunes’ record label, Pusha T was a curious addition to Kanye West’s GOOD record label when the pop superstar did serious remodelling work to his all-star crew last year. With stablemates like Common, John Legend and Mr. Hudson, Pusha’s lurid rhymes – which consistently coaxed the darkest reaches of The Neptunes sound – seemed of a different ilk than the rest of the gang, and unsurprisingly, his debut solo record, Fear of God II: Let Us Pray (an implied sequel to the Fear of God mixtape) is an unsteady and muddled first step.
It’s been a long time coming. Since joining Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music fold last year, cocksure wordsmith and one half of the Clipse, Pusha T, has been on one hell of a streak. Gaining placement on a number of high-profile tracks, as well as releasing his critically praised debut Fear Of God solo mixtape earlier this year, the Virginia native has been seeing his stock rise.