By Loyiso Gxothiwe|
The GOOD Music lyricist has joined forces with the new crop of anti-establishment rappers like Kendrick Lamar in a bid to take hip-hop back to its original political and gangster rap state.
The delayed and highly anticipated debut solo album from Terrence ‘Pusha T’ Thornton, the former Clipse and Re-Up Gang member, has debuted at No 2 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album Charts. Pusha T’s LP 12-track LP titled “My Name Is My Name” dropped on the 8th of October 2013 to almost unanimous critical and peer acclaim. The album boasts producers like Kanye West, Pharell, The Dream and Hudson Mohawke. Pusha T is no stranger to positive reviews of his work. The album “Hell Hath No Fury” which he released while he was a member of Re-Up Gang has been considered to be a hip-hop classic by some. Following a series of features and mixtapes, Pusha T has finally decided to enter the scene aggressively and on his own after being in the game for more than 20 years.
In an interview with Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club, Pusha T explained that what he sought to do with “MNIMN” was to carve out his own lane in the currently pop saturated hip-hop landscape. Pusha T seems to have been highly influenced by his label head and collaborator Kanye West. “MNIMN” has Kanye’s aggressive and experimental production style and hummed auto-tuned bridges and hooks in some parts. However, unlike Kanye’s explicit attempts to be avant-garde and isolated artist, Pusha T does not try to discredit or even reject the sector of hip-hop which fellow rappers like Kanye and Kendrick have deemed disposable and not “hip-hop”. However, like most rappers, Pusha T does not shy away from the common egotism, flashy display of wealth and sexist attitudes.
Standout tracks from the album include the likes of “Numbers on the Board”, “King Push”, “Nosetalgia” ft Kendrick Lamar, “Sweet Serenade” ft Chris Brown and “S.N.I.T.C.H” (Sorry N**** I’m Trying To Come Home) ft Pharell. When it comes to bars and creative wordplay, Pusha T does not disappoint. Pusha T even confidently states that “When it comes to lyrically driven hip hop…I don’t think I could be touched at that”. Although MNIMN can’t be called a conceptual album, there seems to be a central narrative running throughout the album. The theme is summed up in the first verse of Sweet Serenade which consists of lines like “Came from the bottom, nobody said it would be fair/Raised around killers, we just happy to be here”. The few disappointments on the album include the Kelly Rowland assisted “Let Me Love You” and the repetitive, trying-to-hard-to-be-great “Who I Am” featuring featuring Big Sean and 2 Chainz.
Although “My Name Is My Name” tries from the outset to separate itself from the commercial and flashy rap of today, it fails to achieve this as he seems to have gone on the hit-seeking route. Nevertheless, he does throw some jabs at the commercial rappers that are big right now like Drake. In “King Push”, Pusha T raps “I’m King Push. This King Push/ I rap n**** ‘bout trap n****s/I don’t sing hooks”. However, he also has one of the biggest faces of auto-tuned and hook-centred hip-hop he is critiquing on his album coming in the form of Future. Despite its conflicting messages and affected nature, “MNIMN” is a well-produced and lyrically stable album that outshines its contemporaries. In essence, “MNIMN” is one of the best hip-hop albums to be released this year.