"THIS MOTHAFUCKIN PUSHA T!"
Yo...I work a lot...and I keep almost dying, so yea...that coupled with my desire to listen to an album more than a few times resulted in this delay.
I can't even lie...when I first heard that Pusha T was going to release a solo album, I wasn't really excited for it. Malice (I'm not calling you "No Malice" my dude) was always my favorite of the duo, so if one of them was to drop a solo album, I would have preferred it to be Malice. Then I started to hear the work that Pusha was releasing with Kanye...he was spitting some dope shit. "Runaway" was probably my favorite track off My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and he had a number of very good feature verses on Cruel Summer and other rappers' albums. The hype was slowly building, then the album got delayed...at this point, I was wondering if his buzz would be completely gone before he dropped the album, when suddenly...the album got a set release date. It got leaked and he was on The Combat Jack Show, Juan Epstein, and even Elliott Wilson's web series, so it was obvious that My Name Is My Name was on the way.
Now again, even though Pusha's guest verses were all pretty good, I wasn't too excited about this album...just from his solo work, I wasn't really into Wrath of Caine or Fear of God or Fear of God II, so I wasn't too sure what to expect from My Name is My Name...so with some trepidation I listened...
|At least this wasn't his idea...|
From the album cover to the beats, to some of the hooks, Kanye's influence on this album is evident. He's probably the only artist who would do some shit like have the bar code of the damn album as the album cover. When you listen to "King Push," you're very aware that Kanye's fingerprints will be on the record...Pusha T noted himself that he thought the beat was for a Kanye record. That being said, despite my overall "meh" feeling on Yeezus, "King Push" is pretty damn good. Starting the album with that set the expectations a little higher than I initially did. When I heard the next track, "Numbers on the Boards," sample "A Million and One Questions/Rhyme No More," I suddenly felt like I had been underestimating Pusha T. That's an excellent way to start your debut solo album...what followed was not so excellent. While some tracks, like "Sweet Serenade" and "Let Me Love You" aren't necessarily bad, others like "Hold On" and "Pain" sound dated. By the time the album picks back up with "Who I Am," you're in no mood for Big Sean's shenanigans and overall poor rapping. At a sparse 12 tracks (about 46 minutes), Pusha encounters the dilemma of not having a lot of material AND having a chunk of said material be subpar. The key to creating an album that's less than 50min long is to fill it with only good to great songs; there's no room on an album of that length for shit like "No Regrets" or "40 Acres". Furthermore, there are a TON of features on this album. Maybe it's a result of him being part of a duo for so long, but it felt like he didn't think he could carry a track on his own. Half of the features weren't even rapper verses, but I mean...what happened to rappers being able to just rap and do a hook on their own? Of course the worst part of that is the two tracks that he didn't have a feature on ARE TWO OF THE BEST TRACKS OF THE ALBUM.
That being said, there are some really great moments on My Name is My Name. In the wake of "Control," Pusha gets an excellent verse from Kendrick Lamar on "Nosetalgia" (accompanied by a minimalist video that seems more like something from Odd Future than from the guy who did this) and the aforementioned "King Push" and "Numbers on the Boards" are excellence. However, when you consider that Pusha T has been in the game for a decade as part of The Clipse, you can't really judge his debut the way you would an artist who is truly new onto the scene. There's no clear radio grab here, which as someone with an established fan base (as well as someone who is under Kanye) Pusha can afford more so than a Kendrick or a Wale if he wants to reach a larger audience. He also didn't have to worry about getting intricate production or focusing on the topics that mainstream rappers do. The freedoms that his status afforded him allowed him to craft an album that is fairly simple in terms of production (with the possible exceptions of "Hold On" and "No Regrets") and lets his lyrical style shine through.
Similar to Kanye's Yeezus, the first couple of tracks do get you more excited for the rest of the album than you should be, considering the rest of the album, but also similar to Yeezus, there are a few exceptional tracks. Overall, it's a slight disappointment for me, considering that all of the buzz that I had heard regarding the album was that it was near a classic...people that have been lambasting music all year long were telling me that this album was the Album of the Year, so when I got into it I was expecting to hear Album of the Year quality all over the album. Despite the underachievement (I actually feel like Wolf might be the rap album of the year), this is a solid initial entry in the Pusha T catalog. I don't know how long he'll be rapping solo, but this was a good start.
Standouts: "Nosetalgia," "King Push," "Numbers on the Boards"