RIP Lou Reed
Little bits about music that I like, and rarely music that I do not like. I don't know how to move my links so they perch at the top of the page.
Review: Pusha T - My Name Is My Name
Hip-hop today is different than how it was in the early 90s, when West Coast gangsta rap and hardcore east coast hip-hop reigned supreme. It’s also different from how it was when I was a youngster in the early 2000s when I would often read of reports on the internet of rappers being murdered or imprisoned for life and there was something of a revival, yet watered-down and club ready version of gangsta rap with Fiddy and the Game acting like moody children towards each other. Whilst violence in hip-hop is sadly still a frequent occurrence that prevents incredibly talented young artists from getting the acclaim they deserve I do miss hardcore hip-hop in a world filled with Drakes, Kanyes, Mac Millers and Wiz Khalifas. Rappers like Rick Ross will talk about dealing large amounts of cocaine and rappers like Danny Brown will talk about drug indulgence but the two are essentially caricatures to an extent, further instances of stretching the truth for the purposes of entertainment (mainly in the case of Ricky Rozay). Therefore I think mainstream hip-hop needs a Pusha T at the moment, an emcee who sounds genuinely honest in his experience of the drug world. You believe him and you get the impression that he isn’t attempting to impress or entertain the listener like Rick Ross. You get a similar impression from the young Chief Keef but let’s be honest, he’s hardly a decent rapper. Though Pusha is bringing something back to hip-hop that has been gone for a little while he is doing it in a very current and interesting way. My Name Is My Name does not sound like a throw-back album to the early 90s or 00s, rather he has brought back the raw flow that has been absent from the mainstream scene, a rawness that you can hear on records like Illmatic and The Imfamous, and is using it on an album that is unmistakably 2013 in overall sound. “I rap, nigga, ‘bout trap niggas, don’t sing hooks”.
The difference between Pusha T, a hardcore rapper, and Kanye West, an artist and performer, is epitomised by the track Hold On. Pusha goes in with a verse containing lines about pushing dope, being a king and Scarface. Whereas Yeezy wails on autotune throughout the entire track, not actually managing a single word just a rather obnoxious noise. Pusha is bringing rap to a more grounded state whereas Kanye’s bursting through unopened doors that often do not lead to the artistic heights he thinks they do. With his style Pusha can offer a level of consistency in a hip-hop landscape that is rife with hits and misses. Despite this consistency from the main man My Name Is My Name is let down by its features in many instances. This is typified on No Regrets by Jeezy, who is the example of a “drug rapper” doing it badly in an old and uninteresting fashion. The feature of Kelly Rowland feels completely out of place on Let Me Love You and the less said about the verses by 2Chainz and Big Sean on Who I Am the better. That being said there are some brilliant features on this album that really add to the tracks. This album needs features because whilst I love Pusha T’s verses here if it was just him it would be overly simplistic and boring. An excellent vocal performance from The-Dream on 40 Acres and a verse from Kendrick that lived up to what it was supposed to be prove this.
Speaking of 40 Acres the track is a real display of what Pusha is capable of lyrically. His typical lyrical content always flirts with the possibility of being one dimensional like the above mentioned Jeezy and Ross. Sure he is still mainly talking about selling drugs but he is doing so in an “unpolished, unapologetic” manner. He isn’t bragging about being rich from it, he isn’t talking about how it’s bad and he regrets it but rather being honest about its positives and negatives whilst also containing some incredibly clever comparisons and metaphors with matters like his parent’s divorce, his relationship with women and reparations. The album closer S.N.I.T.C.H. tells an interesting story about what can happen to a former friend and accomplice after they get sent to prison and the effect this had on Pusha as someone close to him is willing to betray him in order to get out and be able to go home. Therefore Pusha is offering something a bit different than was perhaps expected of him in his lyrics.
The production on this album is phenomenal and is what makes it a current hip-hop album more than the flows or the lyrics. Kanye’s effort on Numbers on the Boards and Pharrell’s production on Suicide are particular highlights in this regard. The former’s use of an incredible sample hooks the listener in from the off and the pure bounce of the latter allows Pusha to showcase a slightly different pace in his flow to the rest of the album.
My Name Is My Name is the perfect title for this record. Pusha T is consistently honest, open, hardcore and interesting with his lyrical content, flow and overall delivery. The beats benefited from his G.O.O.D. Music deal whereas the features did not. While Pusha is good throughout the album some songs are ruined by their features. However this album comes as a breath of fresh air for the mainstream rap game and in many ways brings it back to basics after a year of Yeezus and Nothing Was the Same.