Pusha T Says "I Don't Think Lyricism in Hip Hop Goes Out of Style"

While the internet bickers about "trap" vs. "lyrical" hip-hop Pusha T comes through with some wise words about balancing the two.

I always have at least one running obsession. For a little while I couldn't stop thinking about Kanye's sex laptop, and my current focus is on bridging this false divide between "lyrical/old" hip-hop and "new/trap" music. In a word, it's stupid.

There's no war between two sides, no need to choose. It's entirely possible to listen to and enjoy both Future and Talib Kweli, just like it's entirely possible to appreciate a serious drama and a ridiculous comedy when you go to the movies. In fact, I wouldn't trust anyone who only watches one or the other. 

So reading some excerpts from Pusha T's recent interview at Harvard, as reported by HipHopDX, made me feel ecstatic. One of my rap heroes, the man I once interviewed almost entirely about his ad-libs, thought the same way I did. 

First, he said this: 

I represent an uncompromising love of lyricism. And I’m going to carry that flag, and that I should carry. I don’t think lyricism in Hip Hop goes out of style. Not everybody, but some people love the fundamentals of Hip Hop like the cypher rhymes, catching punchlines a week or two later. That’s the Hip Hop that I grew up [on], and that’s the Hip Hop that I love. I really don’t know any other way, or even practice or even try to learn the new “swag” or trap.... Lyric-driven Hip Hop is needed because it’s stimulating and you learn from it. I personally don’t know how to rap without a message. 

I could easily stop there and use Pusha's quote out of context as ammunition for the lyrical "side," and some will, but we need to look a little deeper. After all, Pusha is the man who kept telling Kanye he needed to listen to this Chief Keef kid, and so many look down on Pusha's lyricism because it so often comes coated in a thin layer of cocaine, so it'd be hypocritical for him to do the same to others. 

I can remember watching them [Pusha T's rap heroes], and then coming into the game where those we saying ‘Aww man, that’s wack, and that new stuff is not what we used to do.” I don’t think that’s the attitude to have...I feel everybody who’s great today, and is still here today, took from what was young, and put their spin on it, tried to help them out, and keep it progressive....As far as I fit, going into the new generation, it’s my job and duty to help the new creatives and artists come through.

See, was that so hard? Pusha T's attitude is the one I try to have, and the one we should all have. Complex lyricism and trap music can exist side by side, or even on the same song ("What Happened to That Boy").

The only shame here is that we won't be getting that music via a Clipse reunion anytime soon. 

By Nathan S, the managing editor of DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter. Photo by Seema Yadav.