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The much-anticipated solo debut from Pusha T is nearly here.
Words Alex Gale
Images Jimmy Fontaine
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the July/August 2013 issue of XXL Magazine.
“RIGHT NOW, KANYE! RIGHT NOW!”
Pusha T is yelling at his boss.
He screams into his iPhone headset and punctuates each word with a punch to the wall. The members of his band, assembled at a Brooklyn studio to rehearse for his upcoming show at Coachella, laugh nervously, unsure if they should be worried about their next paycheck.
But Pusha isn’t angry with Kanye—he’s ecstatic. He’s just heard the final version of his new song, “Numbers On The Board,” for the first time, fresh from Kanye’s e-mail to his phone. And he wants to leak it online—“right now!”
“Just tell me, tell me now, that the song’s going,” Pusha pleads, stomping his foot half-jokingly. “Just let it go. Please! This is not about clothes, this is not about high fashion. It’s about black T-shirts—and drugs. Okay? Good-bye.”
Pusha hangs up and lets loose what could best be described as a cackle, like a mad scientist who’s just created a monster. (Not a bad description of the grimy beat and sharp rhymes on “Numbers On The Board,” come to think of it.) The triumphant laugh of a 35-year-old rapper, who, after a tumultuous two-decade-long roller-coaster ride in the music industry, is reaching a new, unlikely apex. And that’s even before his first official solo album, My Name Is My Name, drops July 16 [Editor's Note: Release delayed until August] via Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music.
“I’m really excited, man. This is the first time I’ve felt like a real, full-fledged rapper,” Pusha says later, standing on the studio’s roof, with Manhattan’s skyline looming behind him in the distance. “I’m dreaming rap, having phone calls about rap, full-fledged conversations about rap. All that energy—this is my first time ever really feeling like that.”