ARTIST Pusha T
ALBUM My Name Is My Name
LABEL GOOD Music / Def Jam
RELEASE DATE 8 October 2013
8.3 | 10
You have to admire Pusha T’s patience and persistence. He made a name for himself as member of Clipse, and became one of Kanye West’s favorite rappers, leading to a feature on West’s stunning 2010 single “Runaway” off of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Ever since, we’ve been eagerly awaiting a proper solo debut from Pusha T. With the recently released My Name Is My Name, Pusha T’s resilience pays off immensely. The album is a surprisingly fluid and concise affair. Pusha T has been waiting for his moment in the spotlight, and My Name Is My Name finds the rapper taking complete ownership of his leading role.
“Numbers On The Board” was the first track released from the album, in early 2013. The song perfectly captures Pusha’s mentality throughout the album; he might not be on the court for the whole 48, but he’s going to put numbers on the board whenever he is in the game. “Board” follows the opening “King Push,” which while not the brainchild of Joaquin Phoenix, is an excellent cut nonetheless. I’m also not entirely sure the fact that the song was produced by (Metallica drummer) Lars Ulrich’s son is any less weird than if Joaquin was the song’s producer. Ultimately the best thing about each of the two opening tracks is how definitively they shape Pusha T’s aesthetic. So when the remaining ten songs all carry features along with them, it doesn’t sound at all like a panic move on the part of a record label to get (arguably) bigger names on the album to wallpaper all deficiencies. Instead, the featured players, including Chris Brown, Rick Ross, Ab-Liva, The-Dream, Jeezy, Kevin Cossom, Kelly Rowland, 2 Chainz, Big Sean, Kendrick Lamar, Future, and Pharrell, are all guests following their host’s lead.
My Name Is My Name deserves acclaim solely for Pusha T making Chris Brown tolerable again, as “Sweet Serenade” is aided by Brown’s (largely unjustifiable) swagger, albeit turned down several notches. 2 Chainz and Big Sean are quickly becoming hip-hop’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and provide wonderful entertainment on “Who I Am,” which is full of audible Dutch angles, with the only certain thing being how unexpected the whole thing is. “I just wanna sell dope forever / I just wanna be who I am,” Pusha T raps on the cut. He’s just trying to make sure everything stays the same. The album’s only real detours occur on the longer cuts, which meander just enough to lose focus. The most notable misstep is “Hold On,” which never seems to find its footing during its 4:40 runtime.
“Nosetalgia” is arguably the best thing here, in large part due to Kendrick Lamar’s (predictably) incredible verse, but also due to the wonderful production, featuring a single electric guitar riff to piercing effect. The album ends on a remarkably high note, as Pusha T gets the most out of Future, who sings a memorable hook on “Pain,” and Pharrell, the man responsible for the year’s two biggest singles, shows up on album closer “S.N.I.T.C.H.” It’s excitingly upbeat without tarnishing Pusha T’s image. What could have been a major label clusterfuck is in actuality one of the year’s most vital hip-hop releases, up in that upper echelon with Acid Rap, Doris, Nothing Was The Same, Old, Run The Jewels, Stranger Than Fiction, and Yeezus. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. Pusha T always comes through with the best product.