Words About Music
Pusha T “My Name Is My Name”
Before signing to Kanye’s “G.O.O.D. Music” label and subsequently appearing on some of Kanye’s best songs, Pusha T was best known as the cocaine-peddler-turned-rapper who dropped some incredible rhymes with his big brother Gene “Malice” Thornton in the duo Clipse. Although Clipse’s career didn’t exactly go out with a bang, they did release two of the greatest hip hop records of all time, “Lord Willin” and “Hell Hath No Fury,” which detailed the Thornton Brothers’ past as drug dealers in ways that didn’t feel repetitive. Seven years since “Hell Hath No Fury,” the Thornton brother that hip hop fans have wanted to hear more from and have not heard enough of is Pusha T. He’s brought some killer verses to a couple mixtapes and EPs as well as tracks on the “Cruel Summer” album and Kanye’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” but it’s not until now that we have in our hands a proper debut album, which has been delayed enough times to qualify for “Detox”-level legend. Unlike “Detox,” though, “My Name Is My Name” is real and it’s pretty great.
With this album, Pusha T seems to be taking a few cues from Yeezy’s foray into minimalism. The album cover, music video for “King Push,” and some of the beats all exude a sense of absence. Even when they sound “big,” the beats take trap and minimalism and bring them to creative new depths. Some of these tracks even sound more suitable for MF DOOM or Danny Brown than they do for Pusha T, but almost every track works. Pusha definitely delivers his verses with incredible emotion and a flow that goes matched by very few artists. He even holds his own on a track that features Kendrick Lamar’s 2nd best verse of the year.
While Pusha performs flawlessly and the production is incredible, there are parts of this album that make me think Pusha should have put a little more thought into his highly anticipated debut album. When the track listing was first released, many hip hop listeners were worried that the numerous guest features would overshadow Pusha, or at least make this feel less like a Pusha T album and more like a lot of rappers and singers collaborating, but with mostly Pusha T verses. While Kendrick Lamar, The-Dream, Rick Ross, and Chris Brown—I’m just as surprised as you are—bring quite a bit of personality to their contributions, artists like Future, Kelly Rowland, 2 Chainz, Big Sean, Jeezy, and a severely underutilized Kanye West (who sings through an autotuned microphone on “Hold On”) add next to nothing to the songs they are featured on. They aren’t distractingly terrible, but a lot of the verses are phoned in and are too mediocre to warrant being featured on an album of such high anticipation.
So “My Name Is My Name” may not be the ideal Pusha T debut album (I, for one, was hoping for a The Wire sample or two), but it’s still far better than it could’ve been. As Clipse fans have seen, Pusha T is capable of recording music that isn’t amazing, and thankfully “My Name Is My Name” is not total proof of that. In fact, some of these songs are not only some of the best tracks Pusha T has ever recorded, but they also have potential to be some of the best tracks of the year. Pusha T never ceases to find ways to make drug dealing sound interesting for 10 years, whether his past has been exaggerated or not. The beats are great, the verses are usually great, and if it weren’t for a handful overwhelmingly unnecessary contributions from outside forces, “My Name Is My Name” could be one of the best albums of the year. Unfortunately for Push, he was so close but so far. Maybe Clipse will come together for a new album that isn’t totally terrible, and maybe Pusha’s next album will rectify any of the wrongs and complaints associated with this album. Until then, though, we’ll all be trying to figure out how to spell his ad-lib. Yeugh? Yeeeauchgh? Yekcheuhch?
SCORE – 8.2
FAVORITE TRACKS – King Push, Numbers On The Boards, Sweet Serenade, Hold On, Suicide, Who I Am, Nosetalgia