After the release of 2015’s Darkest Before Dawn:The Prelude the album gave us a small taste for his highly anticipated King Push album, teased since early 2013 on Push’s solo debut album My Name Is My Name. Almost three years removed from his last body of work, Rap’s favourite drug dealer Pusha T releases his third solo album Daytona, produced entirely by Kanye West,a match made in rap heaven. Kanye West meticulously constructs the beats on a Pusha-T track the way Phil Jackson ran the triangle offence for the better part of two decades. Yeezy understands what makes Pusha T such a unique talent is his cutthroat rap voice paired with his raw lyrics that create vivid imagery. To best fit Pusha’s talents it’s clear that simplicity is key. As a fan of both Pusha T and Kanye I could only imagine the back and forth clashes that must have happened in the studio, due to Kanye’s tendencies to overproduce his tracks and experiment with his beats in contrast to Pusha’s denial of straying too far out of his comfort zone. After what I can only predict was a war throughout studio sessions from Utah to Wyoming, Pusha T releases Daytona, a seven track album that is definitively the best body of work in his career.
Pusha T’s music is raw and unapologetic and can be grim. It’s clearly not for the lighthearted or the mainstream masses, and at the heart of the tone of his music is his lyrics. Pusha’s writing remains as lean and brash as ever, from lines that’ll make you rewind the track such as “If you ain’t energized like the bunny for drug money/Or been paralyzed by the sight of a drug mummy” on standout track “The Games We Play” to intricate wordplay referencing the late 80’s and early 90’s hip hop culture such as “Pop a wheelie, tell the judge to Akinyele /Middle fingers out the Ghost, screamin’ “Makaveli””on “What Would Meek Do?”. But most importantly Pusha T doesn’t stray away from giving his take on the state of hip-hop on “Infrared” with a shot at Drake with “It was written like Nas but it came from Quentin/At the mercy of a game where the culture’s missing”, while there is many more other intricate bars overflowing on the project,you jut reading the lines don’t do Pusha T the justice he deserves.
The briefness of a seven track album brings prime Pusha T out from the floor, an artist who stuck to his minimalist rap style to get his point across clear and concise. As ever, Pusha’s rap style revolves around what it always has: on his past life dealing drugs, on the things that he could buy because he was dealing drugs, transitioning from a trapper to a rapper and how he is overcame the odds. A critic of Pusha T’s rap style would say he’s redundant, But Pusha’s drive to preach on what makes him who he is doesn’t make him any less of a lyricists in comparison to other top mc’s in the game.
Listen, say what you want about Kanye West over the past few months and his political beliefs and his controversial remarks, but Ye’ has not missed a beat, literally. Pusha thrives as a rapper and shines in tune with beautiful production throughout the project. The range of instrumentals utilized throughout a seven track album is unreal and not once throughout the project it feels as if it’s trying to steal the shine away from Pusha. Sonically, Kanye equips Pusha with the perfect weapons to slaughter every single beat on this album, and that isn’t hyperbole, literally every single beat is the smooth peanut butter to Pusha’s hard hitting jelly. Ye fills the project with negative space in parts, in contrast to stuffing each song and overproducing to let Pusha’s lyrics breath on the track.
Throughout my first few listens of Daytona, apart of me wished for one other feature, and that would be Pusha’s older brother No Malice on “Come Back Baby”. I mean let’s be real that beat is perfect for a return of No Malice, reminiscent of the single that made the duo of No Malice and Pusha T blow up to mainstream relevance with “Grindin’”. But after realizing what the album was about, having the luxury of time due to a high level of skill I think it’s perfectly fitting to have only two features on such a short album. I for one, would love to see a Pusha T X Rick Ross collab project because their rap styles and rap content go almost hand in hand as they are both in the upper echelon of lyricists in the rap game today. And of course the second feature belongs to Kanye himself as he delivers a solid verse, minus some contradictions when he addresses some of his critics, but its Kanye, so what did you really expect?
In all likelihood you’ll never hear any song off of this album in any public gathering type settings or even on the radio, because honesty, it’s not for that. It’s not for the fast-food era of rap that we’re currently living in or the easy to listen to rap that we all know and love. This albums for the now niche audience that love lyricism, and the boom-bap rap throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s where it was more about the rapper and less about the production. This is for the rap purists whose ears burn after every adlib on a song, as they decipher the lyrics of old Clipse joints on their walkman and ipods.
If there was one section of the album where you can point to in having any type of deficiencies it’s the runtime. The album ends on such a strong note with Infrared , it leaves you wanting more because who knows when we’ll see Pusha back again collaborating solely with Kanye West. Although the album respects your time just clocking in around twenty-one minutes rather than bloated hour-plus long projects with enough filler to split into two projects (cough, Playboi Carti , cough). The theme of the album is what impresses me the most, is that it’s the perfect blend between contemporary pop culture and blending the era in which Pusha T grew up in without sounding dated and past his prime, but very well in the middle of it.
If this is any indication on what’s to come from the G.O.O.D Music camp, 2018 June will go down in hip-hop history as the month of G.O.O.D music.Honestly, I’m struggling to leave a final message for you guys to remember this album by but it’s only fitting to leave you with a quote from Daytona. How I feel about Daytona and Pusha T can be summed up by the beginning of “What Would Meek Do?” “I’m top five and all of them Dylan”(if you don’t know the reference, we need to talk).