Pusha T‘s highly-anticipated solo debut album My Name Is My Name is finally here (Oct. 8th) and it has a lot to live up to. The G.O.O.D. Music artist whose career started out alongside his brother No Malice in the duo Clipse, says he has crafted the album of the year. Some think Pusha T doesn’t have the fan base to do well commercially, but he did see success in stores with the platinum-certified Clipse debut Lord Willin‘. Others believe his claims for album of the year are ridiculous following releases like Drake‘s Nothing Was The Same, Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail, Kanye West‘s Yeezus and J. Cole‘s Born Sinner. Known for his witty lyricism, it still takes a certain level of confidence to make a statement so bold and it’s that very edge that Pusha T will need to cement his status atop the rap game.
The 36 year old Virginia Beach rapper gets lots of help on the 12-track project which includes guest appearances by Chris Brown, Rick Ross, Ab-Liva, The-Dream, Young Jeezy, 2 Chainz, Big Sean and Kendrick Lamar, with production from Kanye West, Joaquin Pheonix, Swizz Beatz, Nottz, Hudson Mohawke and more. Originally slated for a 2012 release, Pusha T says MNIMN was pushed back because Kanye wanted to put his own special touch on each and every song. It took over two years for him to establish his solo career and clearly a lot of work went into this album, but will it all pay off or will Push A Ton fall far short of his goal of having the best project released in 2013?
Continue reading for a song by song review.
“King Push” (Prod. by Joaquin Pheonix & Kanye West)
“This is my time, this is my hour, this is my pain, this is my name, this is my power.”
There were mixed reactions (mostly bad) when Pusha T announced he had a beat from Joaquin Pheonix on My Name Is My Name, but critics were quickly silenced when he released the video for the intro track boasting a chilling instrumental (originally meant for Yeezus) that was tweaked by Kanye to give it a more menacing sound. Original reports about Joaquin crafting the instrumental were false though, as he recently clarified in a statement to XXL. Credit for the beat actually goes to Sebastian Sartor, the son of Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. This song has plenty of replay value and it was an excellent decision to drop the visuals just prior to the album release date.
“Numbers On The Boards” (Prod. by Don Cannon & Kanye West)
When “Numbers On The Boards” hit the internet this Spring it was received with open arms. Rolling Stone rated it 4/5 stars stating “The star is Kanye West’s beat, a contusive bass blur with percussion that’s like bamboo sticks on a busted radiator. The result is near-perfect no-bullshit hip-hop.” Personally, I didn’t like the record at the time and hoped it would grow on me. Up to this point, it still hasn’t. It sounds out of place in Pusha T‘s catalog and it sounds out of place on this album. Containing a sample of “Shake Your Booty” by Bunny Sigler, it’s not the worst track I’ve ever heard, but it could have easily been saved for one of his mixtapes. It’s certainly not single material, at least not if you want to sell your project.
“Sweet Serenade” (Feat. Chris Brown prod. by Swizz Beatz)
Next up is this Chris Brown-assisted track “Sweet Serenade,” which was released a few weeks ago. Breezy, who is a fellow Virginia native lays an effect-heavy hook over the eerie Swizz Beatz-produced instrumental and Pusha comes with a handful of quoteables. A video for this song has already been shot in Paris and will feature cameos from Chief Keef and Kanye West. See behind the scenes footage here.
“Hold On” (Feat. Rick Ross prod. by Hudson Mohawke)
Finally a song that wasn’t available before the album’s release! Tastemakers who got to hear MNIMN early were buzzing about “Hold On,” which features Rick Ross and uncredited background vocals by Kanye West. Rozay sets the bar for cocaine rap features on the album with an incredibly introspective verse forcing Jeezy to bring his A-game on “No Regrets” later in the project.
“Suicide” (Feat. Ab-Liva prod. by Pharrell Williams)
When I first heard “Suicide” I was immediately teleported back to a Golden Era in rap when Re-Up Gang mixtapes were flooding the streets faster than Frank Lucas could move packs. Skateboard P provides a classic beat for Pusha T and Ab-Liva to annihilate and although you probably won’t hear this song in the clubs it’s still likely to ruin your friend’s stereo system. Only thing it’s missing? Famlay.
“40 Acres” (Feat. The-Dream prod. by The-Dream & Rico Beats)
Pusha T believes that some of the most gangster albums of all time were crafted by R&B producers and enlists the services of The-Dream who provides a smooth instrumental on the exceptional “40 Acres.” Pusha touches on troubles with a woman and talks about his mother and father splitting up after 35 years, explaining to her that she shouldn’t expect any preferential treatment. This is not exactly a track for the ladies like you’d expect with Terius Nash.
“No Regrets” (Feat. Young Jeezy & Kevin Common prod. by Beewirks & Hudson Mohawke)
I didn’t really feel “No Regrets.” The hook provided by Kevin Cossom reminds me of something you would hear on one of Pusha’s lead up mixtapes and despite the feature from Jeezy this song just doesn’t have the pop to set me off. It feels like a halfway attempt at getting some radio play. It doesn’t ruin the album by any means, but I could see myself skipping this track frequently. Hey no one’s perfect right?
“Let Me Love You” (feat. Kelly Rowland prod. by The-Dream)
“I’m from an era where the money come fast, blow it all cause the money don’t last.”
“Let Me Love You” hits where “No Regrets” misses. The-Dream who had his hands on most of MNIMN provides a beat with a ton of synergy for Kelly Rowland who offers Pusha T an A-grade hook. Push does his best Mase impression on this song, which is the most likely on the tracklist to ever hit a radio station. Sort of reminds me of the classic “Ma I Don’t Love Her.”
“Who I Am” (feat. 2 Chainz & Big Sean prod. by DJ Mano, Kanye West)
King Push explains the motivation behind his actions on “Who I Am” featuring 2 Chainz and Big Sean. Personally I would have liked to see Malice drop a verse on this beat but as you likely already know he does not appear on the album. No doubt Pusha T wanted to prove that he could do it without his brother, but he was assisted by plenty of other artists on the project. This song is worth a few listens if for nothing more than the interesting background music provided by Ye.
“Nosetalgia” (feat. Kendrick Lamar prod. by Nottz)
Pusha T sent the internet into a frenzy when he released “Nosetalgia” featuring Kendrick Lamar. Nottz served up my favorite beat on MNIMN paying homage to the classic Clipse sound and unlike his G.O.O.D. Music counterpart Big Sean, Push manages to not get completely washed by K.Dot on his own track. This song is a cocaine rap fan’s wet dream and was offered for free early with pre-orders on iTunes.
“Pain” (feat. Future prod. by Kanye West)
“Pain is love and it’s war, pain is running out of raw, pain is finding out you’re poor, as the feds knock at your door.”
“Pain” featuring Future was the first single released from MNIMN, gracing the web with its presence October 9th, 2012. It was almost a year to the day before Pusha T would release the project giving lots of time for this song to sink in. Future Hendrix the auto-tune master sings a struggle falsetto while the Clipse member breaks down his drug-dealing dichotomy.
“S.N.I.T.C.H.” (feat. Pharrell prod. by The Neptunes)
The final song on MNIMN, “S.N.I.T.C.H. (Sorry Nigga, I’m Tryna Come Home)” was definitely a case of saving the best for last. Pharrell once again proves why he and Clipse had so much success together and helps drop another instant classic. This one has a similar vibe to my favorite effort from the Virginia artists, “Nightmares,” covering lost sleep over a close friend getting flipped. This joint definitely deserves the single and visual treatment.
So now that we have heard every song the question still remains. Does Pusha T have the rap album of the year? I think yes. Although MNIMN isn’t likely to have as much commercial success as some of the preceding projects like Nothing Was The Same or Magna Carta Holy Grail, Pusha T delivered the exact product his fans wanted. Raw, uninhibited cocaine raps over beats most of the industry wouldn’t even try to touch. His fan base likely doesn’t have what it takes to coast him to the top of the charts but from what I’ve seen around the blogosphere MNIMN has been very well received proving that quality music doesn’t always correlate with sales. Personally, I picked up the autographed deluxe edition MNIMN package from Mass Appeal, I’m not sure if I’ve ever gotten a deal that good. That’s what happens when you have Push A Ton for a plug.
I wouldn’t say Pusha is an obvious winner for album of the year, a debate could easily be made for any of the great projects to come out in 2013. One thing MNIMN had going for it was that all of the major features played their role, well except Young Jeezy who I felt stumbled a bit on his appearance. So much fine tuning went into MNIMN and it pays off in the music. Hate Kanye or love him, he did a great job polishing this tracklist. As a long time Clipse fan I am happy with the influence Ye has had on his label signees sound. Although not every song is perfect, there are more tracks with infinite replay value here than any other album I have heard all year. 2013 isn’t over yet however. Will Pusha T be able to defend his title against albums like Dom Kennedy‘s Get Home Safely, Eminem‘s MMLP2 and DJ Khaled‘s Suffering From Success? Find out in the coming months.
If you are located in the USA you can stream MNIMN for free here.
Pros: Every song has quoteables, major league features perform excellently, Kanye West’s production is nearly flawless.
Cons: No appearance from Malice and no viable radio crossover material.
Timeless Tracks: King Push, Nosetalgia, Suicide, S.N.I.T.C.H.,
Buy: iTunes Amazon