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Pharrell Explains Exactly Why Pusha T Is a Lyrical Genius

"When he’s talking over the beat, you’re like, ‘man…why do you feel this way?’"
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In the 15 years since Clipse released their debut album Lord Willin', Pusha T has solidified himself as one of the nicest rappers of all time (breaking: water is wet, the sky is blue). On this site, he’s been called “a monster on the microphone” who “writes with a pen that was dipped in Blue Magic before touching the page” (I’m pretty sure Yoh got his own pen wet before writing that).

But there’s one person who not only knew about Pusha T long before the rest of the world did but has a truly firm grasp on his genius. I’m talking about the ageless Neptune known as Pharrell Williams who, during a special Virginia episode of his Beats 1 show OTHERtone Radio, broke down Pusha T’s brilliance better than any of us ever could.

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“Your ability to chase the emotion, the darkness in a beat, it’s so crazy to me because this is all he wants. When he comes to me: ‘I want devil beats. I want the darkest, I want demonic, I want dark spirits’ — that’s what he asks for!

“When he’s talking over the beat, you’re like, ‘man…why do you feel this way?’ He uses all the materialistic stuff to make a mosaic to match the emotion of like ‘Damien,’ like he’s listening to ‘The Omen’ or some shit. 

“What Lex [Luger] makes beat-wise, vocally, that’s what [Pusha T] is. But he’s doing a paper mache mosaic using jewelry and cars and girls and gold digging and scales and comparisons: look at you, but not quite; almost but no cigar; but look at this, this is the real thing. He uses all those words to make the colors that Lex does beat-wise. That’s fascinating to me that, where I come from, there are people walking around with those kind of thoughts every day.”

In a separate clip from the episode (which you can stream in full here), Pharrell gave listeners further insight into Pusha T’s creative process, which only makes his ability to "paint the picture with the words" even more impressive.

“I remember the way he used to write his rhymes, it’s so legible and super neat, the way he lines the words up,” he said. “When he got his feel for it, he would write all his verses when he’d drive. He’d drive around and write, which I still don’t understand how you drive and got damn hold a pen. I don't know how you do that, but that’s his thing.”

Push also pulled back the curtain on his writing process, adding, “I’m just super anal about neatness. I can’t even write if the area that I’m in is messed up. I need super flat paper. I can’t even think if there’s a crease in my paper.” Which helps to answer the question: how the hell are his rhymes so damn precise?

Rappers, you can try following Pusha T’s recipe—writing on a fresh, crease-less notepad while behind the wheel—but good luck getting the same results. In fact, attempting it might just get you killed. No wonder this guy likes “devil beats” so much.

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