Before anyone heard a single track, Pusha-T, the unofficial manufacturer of “Johnson and Johnson” declared his debut project, album of the year. And with production from Swizz Beatz, Kanye West and Pharrell Williams, we didn’t publicly agree with the emcee, but we didn’t doubt his proclamation could be true either.
Because for 10 years, the baby-faced younger brother of Hip-Hop duo The Clipse has proven not only can he keep the people’s attention, but he can command it. So when “King Push” dropped, it sounded like the former D-Boy was backing up his claim.
This my time/this my hour/this my pain/this is my name/this is my power
The Sebastian Nielson produced trap single has a bombastic, larger-than-life feel and with precise drums and Push’s electrifying charisma, he defiantly tells everyone it’s his time.
Musical momentum is neither lost nor gained, but shifts with “Numbers On The Board.” Sonically, the track is reduced. While it’s still good for you, it lacks body. But what listeners won’t hear from the music, Push makes up for it with his voice. Aware of the power in his cadence and timbre, Pusha-T uses his most prized instrument to evoke anger, frustration, ego, pride, mischief and even provocation as he calls out Basketball Wives Star Evelyn Lozada.
Don’t let your side bitches settle in/might have to head butt you Evelyn/ballers I put numbers on the board/hard to get a handle on this double edge sword
Not gonna lie, it was a clever line, but it hurt my feelings too!
Fellow Virginia native Chris Brown joins Push on the Swizz Beatz produced “Sweet Serenade.” With a consistent drum pattern, a faint choir and rapid high hat, Push eloquently describes the spoils that come from a life on the streets.
Supreme ballers, all my n****s got ESPY’s/Triple doubles, both wrist and neck freeze/Triple doubles, two bricks and tech squeeze/triple doubles/two hoes and check please
While the track adds to the album’s luster, its also the introduction to the never ending river of features. Listeners find Push sharing real estate with some of hip-hop’s biggest talents on 10 of the album’s 12 songs. And while Rick Ross delivers one of his best verses on the reflective “Hold On” (which is also colored with an off putting gibberish auto tuned Kanye West) It’s always been my belief the more an artist has to say, the less space he has to share with fellow emcees and since all Push raps about is drugs, it makes sense 80% of his album has features.
But all isn’t lost on the emcee’s debut. The Pharrell Williams produced murder-for-hire track “Suicide.” is almost the album’s “happiest” (please take note of the quotation marks) tracks. With the help of Re-Up Gang member Ab-Liva (who’s voice sounds insanely close to Method Man) Pusha-T informs folks that ’round his way, $3,500 can get you taken care of.
When it comes to shooters my n*****s is trained to go/and they getting practice on bitches who breakin’ codes/thirty-five hundred just point and give’ em a name/they back flipping n****s that go for rappers the same/you don’t me n****a f*ck out my way.
Five tracks in, Push’s “album of the year” proclamation appears to hold weight and is almost certified testament on 40 Acres. With The Dream on the hook, Push allows this particular song to feel full and robust. Pusha-T’s honest lyrics gives listeners a deeper peak into his life, and without trying, created the album’s most mature record. Although Pusha-T can’t let go of his pride, which can still be heard in his voice, for the first time-and maybe the last time-listeners see him in his most vulnerable state.
Might have broken a heart or two but gave an honest effort/my nonchalant attitude is always f*ck it/thirty-five years of marriage and my momma left it/you shouldn’t ever question if you ever stood a chance with him/the better question is did you enjoy the dance with him
Unfortunately the plush record stops there and the “album of the year” title is lost. No Regrets follows, and the sonically confusing single makes it easy for listeners to press skip. Who I Am, featuring his G.O.O.D Music brethren Big Sean, and 2 Chainz should’ve been left on the cutting room floor and “Let Me Love You” featuring one-time rumored girlfriend Kelly Rowland helps balance out the album’s missteps due large in part to Push’s vintage Ma$e flow.
The album regains momentum with Nosetalgia. The Kanye West and Nottz produced single finds two emcees vividly rapping about different sides to the same coin. Push discusses drug dealing and K.Dot talks about growing up with family members addicted Push’s product. Both wordsmiths, filled with aggression and passion channeled from surviving the drug life, add more with their voices to the track then the actual music.
It’s on the second to last single “Pain” featuring Future listeners hear Push once again describe life in the drug game and being desensitized to it. Listeners will be surprised to know there’s no title track to the album and the only time Pusha-T even recites the famous Marlo Stanfield line “My Name Is My Name” is on this song.
It’s no risk without gain/it’s no trust without shame/it’s no cause without cain/Push my name is my name
But it’s S.N.I.T.C.H, the last record on the album and the most poignant that help reveal the ugliest side of the drug game. Push all throughout the album speaks about carrying weight, guns, and disposing women all in the shuffle to make illegal money. But its on this record that he vividly paints a picture of the day he received a phone call from a former drug dealer and dear friend who told him he’s willingly going to cooperate with the police.
Im sorry n***a I’m tryna come home/the feds are looking through me/can’t you hear it in my tone/but i’m sorry n***a I’m tryna come home. Hey!
Pharrell’s soft falsetto can’t ease the salt that’s left in listeners wounds as Pusha-T describes what its like to have his best friend turn his back on him. And no matter how loyal you are, listeners find themselves questioning what would they do in the situation, which undoubtedly gives the song depth.
My Name Is My Name is a solid debut from an artist who patiently waited for his time to strike. While some might say the minimal production makes the album sound reduced, Push used that as an opportunity to let his voice be the loudest instrument on the LP. Credit must be given to a man who’s been able to keep our attention and stay relevant for 10 years. But he falls short and makes a young padawan mistake with a bevy of features, when at this point Pusha-T should be a well-seasoned Jedi!