Virginia Beach mainstay Pusha T, one-half of renowned duo Clipse, has unleashed his first solo album, My Name Is My Name, via Def Jam. The follow-up to late 2011's Fear of God II: Let Us Pray mixtape, the project features 12 original tracks from Terrence Thornton, among them reader-approved singles "Pain," "Numbers on the Boards," "Sweet Serenade" and "Nosetalgia."
Assisting on the guest tip throughout the LP are such big names as 2 Chainz, Chris Brown, Future, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Rick Ross and Young Jeezy. Beats come courtesy of Don Cannon, The Neptunes, Swizz Beatz and more.
My Name Is My Name Album Review
If My Name Is My Name is the crack house that fits all of Pusha’s audio dope, then opening track King Push is the doorstop. Military drums and the same vocal sample from Kanye’s New Slaves lay the foundation for Pusha to properly introduce himself. Pusha truly is a rapper’s rapper. He’s no frills, all skills, blending aggressive street talk and clever wordplay, and this intro is a fine example of that. The kitchen, however, is where the real magic happens, and coincidentally, that’s where the finest batches on this album can be found.
Album standout Nosetalgia is as raw as it gets. It had to have been recorded in one of Pusha’s old stomping grounds, not in a soundproof studio with expensive equipment. The understated beat with a crying guitar riff and a KRS-One vocal sample, co-produced by Nottz and Kanye West, is about as spooky as the verses provided by Pusha and guest Kendrick Lamar. The two rhyme about their personal past dealings with coke, and Kendrick, as is often the case, highjacks the track. A similarly sparse record with a downright filthy beat from Don Cannon and Mr. West, Numbers on the Boards is Pusha at his coldest. His flow is like the ice in his bezel and has a confident air that characterizes Pusha as an emcee perfectly.
In a cramped bedroom upstairs, Pusha sits on a creaky bed staring at himself through a cracked mirror. He sees a man who’s done things he’s not proud of, but who’s done things out of necessity. In spite of this, he sees a man with a future. He sees a man with a glowing present. This jagged self-reflection manifests itself in 40 Acres, a track featuring a passionate and extensive chorus from The-Dream, and Hold On, which features fellow mirror-gazer Rick Ross and Auto-Tuned wails from Kanye West. On 40 Acres, Pusha is unapologetic for his well-documented coke afflicted past. The instrumental’s light keys and little of anything else allows Pusha to grapple with his past on his own. His name is his name after all. Hold On is sad and honest, yet still brash. The beat has some nice changes in intensity, and Pusha’s vocals follow these fluctuations.
Selling dope is a lucrative industry, and in the driveway of our My Name Is My Name coke spot is an example of this excess and flash. There’s a dove white Cadillac, windows tinted and 26-inch tires bouncing up and down. A glittering chain hangs from the rear view mirror, and Suicide blares through the sound system. It’s a decent offering, and features some typically fun, bouncy funk from Pharrell that brings back the winning formula from their Lord Willin’ days. The Ab-Liva feature feels forced, though, and the beat does tire a bit, but it’s a nice break from the shadowy feel of the rest of the album.
Closing track S.N.I.T.C.H. is the snakes that hiss their way through the dying grass in the front yard. It’s the rats that scurry about the house, vying for themselves while hunting for scraps. The record is a refreshing take on the issue of these critters in the criminal world. Rat, snake, snitch, whatever they’re called, Pusha T expresses his understanding for them here. An acronym that essentially means, “Sorry, I’m trying to come home”, Pusha weaves poignant tales of snitching over a nice Neptunes beat. As Pusha walks through the grass, he’s bit by one of the snakes. Though he feels no Pain. He’s numb from it both physically and mentally, because of the amount that he’s received in the past. Kanye must have recorded the beat right then and there. A rattlesnake sound bite is looped throughout the track, and the menacing keys create a venomous atmosphere. Pusha’s numb and emotionless vocals achieve the painless feel that follows after experiencing much discomfort.
With his braids flowing under his bathing ape cap, Pusha T confidently exits the house, takes one last look within, and locks the door. He tosses the key in a nearby drain, and hops in his white Cadillac, off towards a brighter future. He looks in the rear view mirror and grins at himself. He knows what he’s done and why. Since his departure from the coke game, Pusha solidified himself as a giant in the rap game, at first as one half of an all time great duo, Clipse, and now as a solo act. He was born Marcus Thornton 36 years ago, but goes by the name Pusha T. He still carries the weight from his past dealings by his government name, but he carries them proudly upon his shoulders for all to see, unashamed. Marcus Thornton may have halted all coke production and distribution in the powder form, but his debut album is further evidence that he now pushes audio dope by the tons.
(By Alec Siegel)
DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins