Release Date: Oct 7, 2013
Record label: Def Jam / Virgin EMI
Genre(s): Rap, Pop/Rock, Gangsta Rap, East Coast Rap, Hardcore Rap
Pusha T’s raps are ardent. Each bar has the ferociousness of a lion smelling the scent of fresh blood. “King Push,” My Name Is My Name’s first track, finds Pusha T expressing this sentiment with his opening statements, “This is my time, this is my hour, this is my pain, this is my name, this is my power.” It’s an indicator that Pusha T’s long-awaited debut solo LP will be packed with bravado.
Let's define what Pusha T's world is: a lyrical thesaurus of cocaine terms, grandiose stories of the drug trade and high calibre production from collaborators like Pharrell Williams and Kanye West. Taking these familiar key elements, Pusha T (one half of hip-hop duo the Clipse) has created an enticing product with solo debut My Name is My Name. Opening with the rapid snare of "King Push," the album goes knee-deep into an 11-track coke diatribe, from the introspective "Hold On" to the menacing "Nosetalgia." A majority of My Name is My Name's sounds are wrapped in minimalistic saran wrap that allows Pusha T's cold delivery to flourish, with more abstract drug references than a paranoid dealer over a tapped phone line.
Pusha T's slow crawl to a debut solo album included the killer mixtape Fear of God II: Let Us Pray, which sure seemed official, being released by Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music with major-label distribution. It stretched the definition of a mixtape fairly far, but West and his team are masters at using smoke and mirrors, as My Name Is My Name is a combination of right place and right time with the results being hot enough to burn up any rulebook.
There is no shortage of coke rappers in today’s oversaturated music market. However, there is a white line of sorts that separates the dopest from the others. The story of the one-time drug dealer gone legit and recalling his past over beats is one that has been told time and time again by the likes of Jay Z, Young Jeezy, T.I., 50 Cent, Yo Gotti and even hip-hop’s resident law enforcement official, Rick Ross, to an extent.
When Pusha T spits “I sold more dope than I sold records” on ‘Hold On’, he’s mocking the self-mythology of his rivals. But there’s an awkward truth here: despite being half of Clipse, the Virginia duo whose 2006 LP ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ elevated tales of coke-dealing to an artform, Pusha is yet to find overground fame. ‘My Name Is My Name’ should change that.
After more than a decade of rapping about selling cocaine, you might think Pusha T would be running out of white-lined road. But on the Marlo Stanfield-quoting, Kanye West-backed My Name Is My Name, Pusha manages to subtly reposition himself as a chart-ready street bard (while still weaving in the obligatory references to blow). His guests ease the transition, with pop acts (Chris Brown), dial-a-verse rappers (2 Chainz, Rick Ross) and Kanye's meandering Auto-Tune helping to give the album a clean sheen that wasn't present during his grimier Clipse period.
From serving as executive producer to the DONDA-designed artwork, Kanye West's fingerprints are all over Pusha T's solo debut. That said, Yeezy's most important influence on the album might be its brevity - MNIMN is an economical 46 minutes. Like the Inuit's reputed 50 words for "snow," Pusha, who helped popularize "coke rap" in the 2000s as one-half of Clipse, has at least that many synonyms for the other white powder.
Pusha T’s solo career post-Clipse has often seemed rudderless. He made great strides playing the preening, streetwise Mase to Kanye’s Diddy on songs like My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’s “Runaway” and Cruel Summer’s “New God Flow”, but it took him a few releases (Fear of God, a patchy stab at bygone Re-Up Gang mixtape glory, and its sometimes distractingly star-studded sequel Fear of God II: Let Us Pray) to find his footing on his own. When he did, on January’s Wrath of Caine, he surfaced snarling over trap beats.
Pusha T :: My Name Is My NameG.O.O.D. MusicAuthor: Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania2013 has been a disappointing year for hip hop - one that promised so much, but has failed to deliver. There have been some quality albums from commercial rappers, but classics? Arguably the only genuine contender for that lofty title thus far has been "Yeezus" by Kanye West, and even that album has continued to prove extremely divisive.
Overt egocentricity seems to run rampant within the G.O.O.D. Music family. As the release date for the frequently delayed My Name Is My Name crept closer, Pusha T held no qualms about prematurely naming it album of the year and boasted, “There is no production in the world that is better than this album.” Even the almighty Yeezus—who recorded with him in Paris—made a rare exception to evangelize the accomplishments of his colleague during his “Everything is Pusha T” rant at a New York listening session.
While functioning as the in-house rappers for peak-era Neptunes, the fraternal Virginia duo Clipse released two spectacular albums, each one musically expansive and lyrically narrow, rife with self-imposed limitations. Foremost among these was their fanatical focus on shoptalk, with nearly every song focused on their fictional drug-dealing empire, resulting in an impressive amount of brilliant wordplay about narcotics. This wasn't a built-to-last formula, however, and the group's momentum faded, despite their technical bona fides.
Until Joaquin Phoenix denied it last week, Pusha T had been claiming that the Hollywood star had produced the opening track on his debut solo album. You wonder why he bothered, given the strength of his production team, among them Pharrell Williams and Kanye West, whose skeletal beat on Numbers on the Boards is one of the year's best. Pusha T had an intermittently brilliant career with hard-edged Virginia rap duo Clipse before going solo three years ago, and his tales of youthful hustling and newfound wealth ("Your plane's missing a chef," he taunts) are compelling, albeit well-worn.
After years of label purgatory with coke-rap menaces Clipse and a string of mixtapes for Kanye West's G.O.O.D. imprint, Pusha T finally gets his solo debut. He's still a witty, quietly vicious rapper, capable of tearing apart spare street tracks like "Nosetalgia" and "Numbers on the Board" while barely raising his voice. But set in the more commercial contexts of Kelly Rowland features and the-Dream's fluorescent R&B, he can sound like a fish out of some pretty expensive water.
After a series of mixtapes, the Clipse star finally releases his fiercely unrepentant solo debut. One of hip-hop’s premiere MCs, Pusha T is at the top of his game with sharply defined autobiographical tales and defiant, self-aware verses. He often dazzles with his smooth, cold-blooded flow and connects on virtually every song. On the turbulent reflection, “40 Acres,” he seethes, “unpolished/ unapologetic/ this cocaine cowboy pushed to the limit.” These songs are more varied than Clipse’s claustrophobic meditations on coke dealing, but just as combustible.
opinion byDORIAN MENDOZA Seeing Pusha T’s major label debut out must provide the biggest sense of relief for the veteran rapper and his much beguiled fan base. After the demise of coke-rap dream team and brother duo Clipse in the late 2000’s, Push’s allegiances were sworn to the G.O.O.D. Music family, where the street rap was traded in for the orchestral magnitude surrounding Kanye West and his set of players.
“This my time, this is my hour,” Pusha T opens the first track on My Name Is My Name, what is technically his first solo full-length release. It’s not just bravado either – it does indeed seem that way, an oft-overlooked rapper’s prime moment to shine. If Kendrick Lamar delivered the universal Verse of the Year on ‘Control’ then you’d be hard-pressed to find a better, more brilliantly idiosyncratic beat over the past twelve months than on this LP’s lead cut, ‘Numbers On The Boards’.
Last month during a promo run for his long-awaited debut album, Pusha T said that he didn’t “want to hear anymore one-dimensional street raps.” The Virginia Beach MC knows a little something on the matter; as a member of Clipse, along with his brother No Malice (formerly Malice), he spent over a decade rapping almost exclusively about selling dope. A number of rappers have built their careers on lyrics about the drug trade, but the Brothers Thorton used a level of creativity and ingenuity in their rhymes that hadn’t been heard since Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. As a result, even though they were rapping about one thing repeatedly, each line about cooking baking soda and selling bricks came off as clever and original as the last.
As Walter White would surely tell you, slinging drugs is a dirty job. But if you’re going to do it, own up and do it right. On his new album, “My Name Is My Name,” rapper Pusha T does just that, boasting that he “sold more dope than I sold records” with the pride of Heisenberg, and using musical sounds as glistening and well-crafted as his underground lab.
In the lead up to the release of My Name Is My Name, we heard more from executive producer Kanye West than Pusha himself. Kanye’s recent “rant” about Pusha was nothing if not passionate. He spoke of how Pusha is “the culture”; a figurehead for those grasping for something “real” to hold onto in the face of rap’s rampant commercialisation, and heightening expectations of what’s been tipped as one of the best rap albums of the year.