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10 October, 2013@7:23 pm

“This is educated thug music…” said Jay-Z years ago on “N.Y.M.P.”, from Vol. 3: The Life & Times Of S. Carter. This was years before he was lounging in beach chairs with Beyonce and Blue, still building his empire, giving us countless visual tales of his drug-running, pre-rap lifestyle. Despite our upbringing on Public Enemy and Brand Nubian, Jay’s glorification of his nefarious past was a rare case where we clamored for more, like a good mob flick. It wasn’t that what he was rapping about was any different than anyone on the No Limit roster, but it was how he did it. The coolness, the cleverness, the style, or as BDP put it, the poetry. This was educated thug music.

Pusha T is another rare case, as he is currently occupying a space in rap that was once defined by Jay-Z. While his brother / partner in The Clipse, No Malice, has (literally) taken the road less traveled, opting out for spiritual rap, Pusha T has taken an even darker turn on his debut solo LP, My Name Is My Name, released on Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music imprint.

As we saw with Yeezus, the direction G.O.O.D. Music has taken recently puts art first and marketability second, as Pusha delivers one of the most raw and unapologetic major label LP’s of the year. The production is ridiculously dirty in places, as songs like “Numbers On The Boards” and “Who I Am” hark back to the classic hip-hop approach of off kilter production, much like that of Jeru The Damaja’s “Come Clean” or some dusty Dilla donut. The Nottz produced “Nosetalgia” is also proof of this, featuring a blistering verse from Kendrick Lamar.

Even when Push shines things up a bit, the tone of the album still remains in brooding, dark territory. “Sweet Serenade” expertly uses Chris Brown (a guy who’s having trouble scoring ANY points lately) with a pared-down, filtered effect, while “40 Acres” pulsates with minimalist thump, and a perfectly executed hook from The-Dream. On both on “Hold On” (feat. Rick Ross) and “Pain” (feat. Future), Kanye and No ID’s signature sound comes through, echoing through the speakers with innovative new production techniques that defy rap’s tried, tired, and true formulas. In each case, they managed incredible execution of appearances of guests we aren’t typically fans of. This is testament of Kanye’s oversight.

Pusha’s lyrical content revolves around street tales and drug deals, something that he somehow manages to keep interesting throughout the entirety of the album. Endless metaphors and double-entendres are littered throughout the record, one of the most clever being “S.N.I.T.C.H.”, an acronym crooned out by Pharrell, “Sorry N****a, I’m Tryna Come Home”, in a cold tale of betrayal.

The album is not without it’s faults. “Suicide” with Ab-Liva seems a bit too experimental for it’s own good, while Pusha’s Ma$e impression on “Let Me Love You” is spot on, but skippable after the first listen. The smoothest produced track, “No Regrets”, steers things a bit off course on this otherwise gritty LP, but not too bad. Despite these few shortcomings, they hardly ruin the album, as the rest of it plays so damn strong.

My Name Is My Name is a surprising LP that celebrates the bad guy, and really rewrites the rules for major label hip-hop. While not a flawless record, it’s incredibly consistant, and much like Yeezus takes many risks, despite being a totally different type of album. It presents Pusha T as the musing devil on your shoulder, perfectly contrasting his brother’s recent release, Hear Ye Him, the latter of which presents a different side of the coin, yet still bangs. This is educated thug music.

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11 Responses to "Pusha T – “My Name Is My Name” – @@@@ (Review)"
  • magnafunk says:

    Numbers on the boards should have been pushed towards the back of the album, hard to get excited about the album when such a dope track is followed by that awful Chris Brown song

  • georgel says:

    what difference does it make if you dont like one song with chris brown. it shouldnt take away from a previous song as you suggested magnafunk. just skip or remove it from your mp3 player. its almost like everyone has to put a big name pop star on their albums anymore to get some sales at least. would you want to work on an album for months for it only to sell a couple thousand units. if people would actually buy all the real hip hop albums and support them this wouldnt be necessary, like back in the 90′s

  • the man the myth says:

    Good point Georgel, and unfortunately when you become a corporate and music industry slave, you get forced to do collaborations with Rick Ross, Chris Brown, etc…Selling units is only good for the labels, none of these artist are making hella loot from record sales, they make it from tours. Run the Jewels dropped the best album of the year, gimmick free and totally free. They didn’t need any pop stars or phone company colabs, they just put out pure heat and said f*** the industry, and all they asked their fans to do was just come to the shows, and they did pretty damn well for themselves. Killer Mike’s approach was perfect. All he wanted to do was make a dope album, and getting rich off of it wasn’t his goal. He said he made plenty of money off of it but that he isn’t greedy. I wish more people took this approach, instead of trying to fit into an industry that doesn’t respect but pimps our culture. Rant done

  • Dayz says:

    Not sure what happened to my review and I don’t feel like typing the entire rant again but… I am a huge Clipse fan love all their LPs and mixtapes, love No Malice’s Hear Ye Him… I hate this LP straight up and down, it sucks. G.O.O.D. Music is poison and ruined this artist and his music. I can only pray that that Kanye doesn’t get his hands on the next Clipse LP if they ever do one again. The production is horrible and the heavy features kill this LP. Pusha is always nice but the aforementioned reasons I hate it ruin all his verses for me. Boo! Sincerely one very disappointed and loyal Clipse fan since day one.

  • Hodges says:

    @Dayz, The Dream (what type of nugga calls himself that anyway?) is considerably involved in most Def Jam and GOOD Music releases through production or writing. That’s the unbearable wackness you’re sensing in most of their efforts.

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