“Who you wanna be? Drug Dealer? Demon? Rap n***a? You tryna save the culture? Ay Dios mío. You gotta pick one, daddy.”Although this one line isn’t on this Pusha T album per se, for the uninitiated, it captures the dilemma that Pusha T has endured with trying to discover who he is as a person. After the hiatus of the infamous duo of Clipse (Pusha T and his biological brother No Malice), it is no secret that Pusha T struggled to find his footing as a solo act. After signing with G.O.O.D Music, Pusha T found the perfect pairing to transition himself from one half of the best duo’s of the early 2000’s to solidify his ground in rap history as a mainstay in the 2000’s era of rap. After releasing mixtape Fear of God and EP Fear of God II:Let Us Pray in 2011 and follow up mixtape Wraith of Caine in 2013, via the backing of G.O.O.D Music Pusha T drops his solo debut album titled My Name Is My Name.

Lyrics:9/10
Pusha T delivers wordplay throughout this album brings an unorthodox flavor to the album. Throughout the verses that Pusha has laid out on each song each line is in some manner connected to the next and really highlights Pusha T’s capabilities as an MC. The album starts off with the hard hitting, Kanye-produced “King Push” and immediately sums up the tone and tenacity My Name Is My Name provides with a single line: “I rap n***a ‘bout trap n***as I don’t sing hooks.” The album is littered with lyrical gems that are only enhanced with Pusha’s authoritative and demanding lyrical style with barbs such as “It’s only one God, and it’s only one crown/So it’s only one king that can stand on this mound” on “Numbers On The Board” to his infamous drug talk on “Nosetalgia” as he spews “N***a, I was crack in the school zone/Two beepers on me, Starter jacket that was two-toned/Four lockers, four different b*****s got their mule on/Black Ferris Bueller, cutting school with his jewels on.”I mean come on, King Push coming for that lyric throne and it’s clear as day as he’s not stopping for anyone.

Production:9/10
This is where the doubters who questioned the combination of G.O.O.D Music and Pusha would make a killer combination was silenced instantaneously. Pusha T goes bezerk on the simplistic beats that are riddled throughout My Name is My Name which was under the influence Kanye West,G.O.O.D Music ambassador. Although Yeezus does not have a feature on any song throughout the project, his presence is felt and provides the guidance that was severely missing on Pusha T’s previous solo projects.For a moment, let’s just forget about the slight overproducing on songs such as Who I Am(feat. 2 Chainz, Big Sean) and No Regrets(feat.Kevin Cossom & Jeezy) and appreciate the way that every single beat on this project fits Pusha T perfectly. From top to bottom the album is riddled with different levels of drum snares and skewered samples from previous work, heavy horns, wirey guitar strings and choosing to have minimalism on the beats and let Pusha’s calm rap style be the star of each song.

Features:7/10
This album is riddled with features, out of twelve songs ten have a feature of some kind. Do all features feel needed? No. For a project micromanaged my G.O.O.D Music, My Name Is My Name has an absurd amount of features that don’t fit. On one end you have “Nosetalgia”, a story of the cocaine Pusha T sold and Kendrick Lamar saw his family struggle with at a young age. Pusha T starts the song with “Twenty years selling Johnson and Johnson, I started as a baby face monster, no wonder there’s a diaper rash on my conscience”, a clear nod to the fact that from birth he was thrown into this situation, used to the life of drug dealing and not seeing anything wrong with what he was doing and who he was hurting. Kendrick Lamar’s verse in response starts with “You wanna see a dead body?”, while Pusha T is numb to that,Kendrick on the other end of the spectrum spews about his naive personality growing up getting stripped at a young age when watching first-hand his aunty, dad and people lives ruined by the infamous narcotic. A surprise on this album was how great Pusha T and Future complimented each other on “Pain”, another drug dealing tale where Push speaks about the hardships of the life he chose complimented by Future’s sorrow tone throughout the chorus. At the pinnacle of Pusha T’s rapping capabilites we get these gut wrenching stories that allows him to draw parallels with himself and his rap contemporaries;finding the perfect balance that he was missing on his previous solo projects.

Although we had an-all time great feature from Kendrick Lamar on Nosetalgia, filler features infested the album with tracks such as “Who I Am” with 2 Chainz and Big Sean and “Let Me Love You(feat.Kelly Rowland)”. In an album with established talents like Kendrick Lamar, Ab – Liva, Jeezy and Pusha himself, you expect rising star rapper Big Sean to bring his best (he didn’t), you expect Kelly Rowland,the only female on the album to shine (she didn’t). PSA to all artists that feature on any project released under G.O.O.D music,if you don’t bring the heat you will get lost just like Kelly Rowland,2 Chainz and Big Sean did.

Replay Ability:8/10
From start to finish, this album shines apart from previous Pusha T projects due to it’s no-nonsense story telling and Pusha’s hard hitting punch lines that shine on the minimalistic beats he thrives on. Unlike most rappers rapping about selling drugs and death, Pusha T utilizes his smooth flow and incredible ability to tell his story through intricate word play has listeners going back to hear it again and find deeper meanings to the stories he tells. While these songs aren’t the ones you will hear overplayed on the radio and in the club, the beats, lyrics and stories make it a timeless body of work for Pusha T and helped set him on the right track as a solo artist.My Name is My Name is an album you can play in ten years and will still sound as good as it did when it first came out. The stories will always hold relevance to the way drug dealing and rap coincide. Songs like ; “Numbers on the Board”, “Nosetalgia” ,”S.N.I.T.C.H” and “King Push” will have you coming back for more,just like the life of a drug dealer he tried so hard to separate himself from.

Album Content:8/10
This album’s message is very clear and cohesive from start to finish. While we all know “King Push is synonymous with King Pin”, this is not an album that glorifies drugs or death but tells a very real and humane story. Although there are a few songs that stray away from the meat of the story (Let Me Love You and Sweet Serenade) and are on the album quite honestly for it’s mainstream appeal, tracks such as “Nosestalgia”, “Suicide” and “Numbers on The Board” illustrate perfectly what Pusha T was going for, the good and bad of the lifestyle he lived,hence the unapologetic and in your face album title My Name is My Name.

Overall Grade:8/10
After five years of soaking in his lyrics and analyzing every verse, we come to the realization that his infamous drug dealing mentality is still very much alive as it influences his decisions as a no nonsense businessman and the decisions he makes. As a body of work,this is the album that encapsulated his life from the moment he sold his first dime bag to the second he put his name on the dotted line to be apart of G.O.O.D Music. Pusha T gives us a very remorseless, raw, gritty and mature googles to witness the double edged sword of a drug dealer and an album that will undoubtedly a highlight in an illustrious career.

Best Tracks:King Push,Numbers On The Board,Hold On(feat.Rick Ross),Suicide(feat.Ad-Liva),Nosetalgia(feat.Kendrick Lamar),Pain (feat.Future)
Worst Tracks:Sweet Serenade(feat.Chris Brown),Let Me Love You(feat.Kelly Rowland).

Ananth Para
paramana@mcmaster.ca

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