There are ideological questions about what kind of a rapper Pusha-T can be in 2013. The Clipse drug-talker has enjoyed a higher profile and (assumed) increased financial success since singing with Kanye West and G.O.O.D. Music in 2010, but while he’s more of a household name now, he often seemed unfocused and unsure of himself. Leading up to the release of My Name is My Name, he kept appearing on prestige tracks with the Rick Ross and rapping about his wealth, his women and his lifestyle and sounding like no one in the process.
My Name is My Name doesn’t shed any additional light on this issue. Pusha is still far removed from his drug-dealing days, and getting ever farther. Yet, his voice comes most alive when he talks about street violence, street culture, street hustle. In a way, his current narrative holding pattern is common: what does the person who fought and scrapped to have everything actually do with it?
Still, philosophical questions don’t matter as much when one of the best rappers is going nuts over some of the most exciting beats of the year. Sure, Pusha is rehashing the coke talk that he perfected on Clipse records like Hell Hath No Fury, but on the other hand, HE’S REHASHING THE COKE TALK THAT HE PERFECTED ON HELL HATH NO FURY. T hasn’t sounded this focused, this connected to his material since the early 2000s.
The album’s production is similarly impressive. Kanye West has assembled a murder’s row of established and up-and-come beat makers for the record: everyone from Pharell and Swizz Beats to Don Cannon and Hudson Mohawk contribute to the record’s foreboding, threatening motif. Songs like “Numbers on the Boards,” “Hold On” and “Nosetalgia” accomplish the impossible task of sounding both like grimy hood anthems and million-dollar luxury beats.
Perhaps this, then, is the best way to look at what My Name is My Name, and by extension, Pusha-T, can do: he may never evolve past his hood inspiration, but when the world bends to meet him, Push comes off sounding like the only street rapper who ever mattered.
In a year ladled with many major releases, Pusha T’s, My Name Is My Name some how manages to buck both trends and every other major release, to be become one of best records released this year. In many ways it seems to be Yeezus done right, while the rest reaks of raw undiluted metaphors and lyrical skill. But where Yeezus and Magna Carta Holy Grail failed, My Name Is My Name gets it so right. Pusha T has undoubtedly cemented himself as a true quality driven artist with this LP.
Every track feels carefully thought out and is mechanically sound, while all featured artists are utilized to their max potential, enhancing both the mood and style of the album. (Especially Kendrick Lamar on Nosetalgia) All of the beats are both creative, while still folding into the album nicely. Particular Standouts include those done by the Neptunes and Good Music.
Pusha T is quite effective at painting a lifestyle turned bad to an artist hungry to reach the top of the game. While Yeezy, excellent production serves as a suitable backdrop. The different between this and Yeezus, however is that Pusha T, truly retains the lyrical ability to back it up.
It is difficult not to reap this album enormous praise, when it so perfectly delivers on exactly what was promised.
The album manages to string together so many elements beloved from Hip-Hop, from minimalist 90’s beat to theatrical good music production, R&B hooks that came out of the 90’s, witty sharp lyricism, as well as an aptitude for clever story telling. And of course, the constant that ties it all together, testosterone fuelled, yet some how well collected coke raps something of a signature for the artist.
Perhaps the only real “issue” with this LP are the questionable additions of MC; “Big Sean” and “2 Chainz” neither of which can even come close to holding their own lyrically with Pusha. Both of there versus feel unintentionally awkward and funny on and all but introspective and fascinating album.
Yet, neither of them are truly enough to detract from the album as a whole.
Surely, a classic in the making.
A well deserved, 4.5 out of 5.