Lets be honest: One of the things that made hip-hop duo Clipse so captivating was their production. Sure, the tandem of Pusha T and (No) Malice spit coke raps with wit and verve, but it was the oddball production of The Neptunes that made them stand tall above similar acts. Need proof? Just listen to the near flawless Hell Hath No Fury.
After the disappointing sales and critical reception of their third album, Til the Casket Drops, the brothers announced they were embarking on solo projects. Pusha T was first out of the gate, signing with Kanye Wests G.O.O.D. Music label and releasing a series of well-received mixtapes, including Fear of God and Wrath of Caine, all gearing up toward the release of his highly anticipated solo debut, My Name is My Name.
But given Pusha Ts proclivity for spitting dope tales about dope sales, one must ask: Will My Name is My Name give us something new, or simply be more of the same?
Numbers on the Board is all menace and braggadocio, with Push-A-Ton comparing himself to ballers (athletes, that is) over disparate vocal samples (Jay Z!), bongos, and a rumbling bassline. Chris Browns filtered guest vocals provide the hook on Sweet Serenade, an ode to The Life in which King Push proclaims, The queen pin to the kingpin redeems him, then follows up with a blast at the fakers: The Sergio Tacchini life, we uphold/You just posin for them pics so you can upload. The monastic vocals that anchor the beat, courtesy of a surprisingly restrained Swizz Beatz, give the track an almost theistic feel. Bow down, indeed.
Push and an unexpectedly nimble Rick Ross wax sentimental about dealing coke on the introspective and (dare I say) uplifting Hold On, which features background vocals from Kanye West. The introspection continues on the powerful Nosetalgia, in which Push and Kendrick Lamar talk about the effects cocaine has had on their families and communities. 2 Chainz gets mean and nasty on Who I Am, which manages to make ESGs UFO sound fresh again. Unfortunately, Big
Yawn Seans appearance on the same song makes him sound like, in his own words, a grown-ass little boy.
But the standout has got to be Suicide. Produced by Pharrell, featuring Re-Up Gangster Ab-Liva, and boasting more punchlines than a Kevin Hart standup act, its the sort of classic Clipse-type jam one hoped Pusha T had included more of on his debut. Walter White wished he had this kind of chemistry.
There are moments on the album, however, that make one wonder if Push is getting high on his own supply. He very much sounds out of his element on the syrupy R&B 40 Acres, featuring The-Dream. While the track isnt actually a love song (it details the breakup of his parents after three decades of marriage), its a jarring shift in tone and vibe from the songs that came before it. The slickly produced No Regrets feels just as awkward despite a winning appearance from Jeezy. And who the hell thought mimicking Ma$es voice and flow on Let Me Love You, featuring Kelly Rowland, was a good idea? EUGHK!
Production was handled by a litany of big name beatmakers, including West, Pharrell, Beatz, The-Dream, Don Cannon, Hudson Mohawke, and Nottz.
Coke rap is Pusha Ts forte. Its what he does, and he does it well, especially when his dope flows are backed by innovative production. He may never be the platinum megastar his labelmates are, but thats fine. So long as he continues to make music thats true to him, and stays away from contrived bids for radio play, Pusha T will create an addictive discography that will have rap fans continually fiending for more.
Nosetalgia (featuring Kendrick Lamar
“Numbers on the Board”