Rapper Pusha-T tries to show the world that he is one of the most talented and showstopping personalities with his official label debut album My Name Is My Name, but he trips on the starting line.
Pusha made a name for himself with the aggressive rap duo Clipse and with Kanye West’s label G.O.O.D Music.
Clipse was known in the underground hip hop scene for their hard hitting flows that came out hot and never let the flame go out. But when the group broke up, Pusha and other member Malice were left to forge their own solo careers.
While Malice hasn’t made any kind of impact, Pusha has been steadily working on solo projects including a few mixtapes that never really impressed outside of a few quality songs. However, he has hopped on some tracks featuring big names and stolen the show with his raw delivery and wordplay.
My Name Is My Name has been long-delayed and hyped up by hip-hop aficionados all around. When the album starts it sounds like Pusha’s ready to live up to his potential and regain the reputation he acquired with Clipse.
On “King Push,” co-produced by Sebastian Nielsen and Kanye West, Pusha tells of his mindset on music as well as recognizing that this is his moment. “I don’t sing hooks,” he boldy proclaims. It’s an exciting statement; Pusha is boasting that he is here to deliver rap music in it’s purest form and nothing else.
Only he’s lying. It’s clear in the next two tracks that Pusha has this mentality of dishing out authentic rap and wants to impress with great production and heavy, in-your-face wordplay, but these first three tracks are all that he seems to have had in store for his revival. Instead, he quickly falls into the mainstream rut of rapping about his rough upbringing, his time selling drugs and basically nothing at all.
All that a listener could grasp from My Name Is My Name is that Pusha-T was a drug dealer and has worked very hard to get where he is now. That’s great, but he’s said it all before and in more convincing ways.
He even goes so far as to imitate Jay Z and make a song with his own former Destiny’s Child member girlfriend, Kelly Rowland. “Let Me Love You” might be one of the most forced collaborations heard in recent history. Pusha sounds so lazy here that he might as well be half asleep. For a guy who’s known for invigorated whoops, screams and fits of pure energy, this is a pitiful track that should not have made the cut for any album.
Apparently when Pusha said he doesn’t sing hooks, he really meant that he would get other people to create cheesy autotuned choruses for him. Much better.
Even without those hooks making a desperate grasp at depth, Pusha’s verses hit the same note repeatedly. At this point he has been grasping on to the same drug dealer image for his entire career and, however true to life it may be, with this album it feels worn out.
After slogging through much of the album, the listener is brought in by a smooth, laid back beat featuring hand-played percussion over which Pusha delivers a solid verse. Only he finds himself completely outclassed by a guest verse from Kendrick Lamar, who easily lives up to his own taunts that he will outshine anyone on their own song.
Comparable to Pusha in many ways, including subject matter, Lamar has developed a variety of ways to innovate in his stories and delivery that Pusha sorely lacks.
This deep into an already disappointing album, Lamar makes Pusha look like an amateur at his own game.
Photo: Thomas Hawk/flickr