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Pusha T Finds His Lane As A Solo Artist On The Grandiose ‘My Name Is My Name’

Last month during a promo run for his long-awaited debut album, Pusha T said that he didn’t “want to hear anymore one-dimensional street raps.” The Virginia Beach MC knows a little something on the matter; as a member of Clipse, along with his brother No Malice (formerly Malice), he spent over a decade rapping almost exclusively about selling dope. A number of rappers have built their careers on lyrics about the drug trade, but the Brothers Thorton used a level of creativity and ingenuity in their rhymes that hadn’t been heard since Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. As a result, even though they were rapping about one thing repeatedly, each line about cooking baking soda and selling bricks came off as clever and original as the last. They were poets describing their art, and they were damn good at it.

But a lot has changed since then. No Malice has repented his days as a drug dealer and moved toward a more positive message with his music, releasing a borderline gospel-rap album recently in Hear Ye Him. And at age 36, you had to wonder if Pusha would follow in his brother’s footsteps and move on to more relevant topics to his current life, which consists of hanging out with superstars like Kanye West and owning his own clothing line. But that’s not the case on My Name is My Name, an album that often functions as a grandiose version of a Clipse record. On it, Push continues to remember where he comes from and spits as if his fingernails are still full of powder residue, but he also pulls out some new tricks, rapping over immense instrumentals alongside a number of high-profile guests.

The album opens up with the snare-cracking “King Push,” which is a good representation of what the listener can expect from the rest of MNIMN. Over a pulsating, electro-tinged beat, which we sadly now know was not produced by actor Joaquin Phoenix, Push proudly proclaims that he’s still the king of crack rap, spitting quotables like, “My first Grammy was my first brick,” and even taking shots at some of today’s more emotionally vulnerable rappers (here’s to you, Drake) when he says “I don’t sing hooks.” His nasally Virginian drawl has always had a hint of repulsion to it, as if his bars were so well written that they were nauseating. Here that’s magnified, rapping lines like “Carry on like a carry on, and my side bitch I let tag along” with straight up disgust.

It gets even better when his clever bars are accompanied by unique takes on the street life concept, like on “Hold On,” where, along side a top-form Rick Ross, he speaks to young blacks in the hustle about their self worth, or on the Pharell-produced “S.N.I.T.C.H,” where he openly discusses his relationships with those who have become police informants—a traditionally taboo topic in hip-hop. Push even lets us into his family life a bit. On The Dream-backed ballad “40 Acres,” for example, he speaks to No Malice, stating “My better half chose the better path, applaud him.” Later in the song, he seemingly questions the integrity of their mother before declaring that he only truly cares about himself. These types of insights are brief, but, like when Jay Z, another traditionally private MC, throws out personal tidbits, they can be profound.

The album’s production, crafted by an all-star cast of beat makers, is big and built to match Push’s enthusiasm on the mic. Hudson Mohawke uses a gurgling Kanye vocal sample and airy synths to create a high-flying backdrop for “Hold On,” while Pharrell takes it back to the sizzled bounce of Hell Hath No Fury on “Suicide.” Elsewhere the production is slightly scaled back to create a grittier feel, like on “Nosetalgia,” which features a straightforward guitar sample over a vintage bongo break and a show-stealing verse from Kendrick Lamar, and on “Numbers On The Board,” which immediately conjures up images of dice games on dark street corners.

These traits often push MNIMN to the verge of greatness, but it’s brought down by Push’s desire to venture into familiar territory. Certain songs, like the trap house anthem “No Regrets” or the early-2000s-sounding “Let Me Love You,” are entertaining (especially for Push’s impeccable Harlem flow impression on the latter) but don’t have the inventiveness or excitement of the album’s other tracks. With MNIMN standing at a lean 12 songs, these missteps are hard to gloss over. Regardless, Pusha T accomplishes a lot here, crafting a record that is big in concept but is still rooted in the longstanding hip-hop tradition that lyricism is king. Reed Jackson

  • Caviale

    MNIMN AOTY

  • Isometrisized

    As
    far as I can tell the diversity of production takes us a trip through the past
    two decades from the prestige of a drug dealer all the way to Hip Hop hustler
    on the brink of Zeitgeist enlightenment. The production is pretty comprehensive
    and shows his appreciation of G.O.O.D., the 90′s as well as R&B.

    Its very much a trip through a few decades through the eyes of a drug dealer.
    And of course, the constant that ties it all together, testosterone fueled, yet
    some how well collected coke raps something of a signature for the artist.

    Lastly, to me what makes this a truly interesting listen is him drawing
    parallels from the gang banging lifestyle to being a hip hop mogul. The
    “Hustle” is still alive and well. One must look no further than SIMPLY the
    album artwork. The parallel being white albums to white kilos. The bar code
    indicates, hey this is just another day at work for Pusha T, whether is selling
    coke or albums, its much the same to him.

    4.5/5 certainly one of the more interesting releases this year.

    Oh and lyricism most certain should receive and XXL

  • 2012Industry1

    This makes me wanna pull it up and listen again, because it was disappointing to me. When it’s dope, it’s dope. But when it’s not, is shameful. 3.5/5 for me! But maybe after a few more listens.

  • Svn

    Really annoying review.

    What do we want? Do we want Fear of God Pusha?

    Or do we want Clipse Pusha?

    “These traits often push MNIMN to the verge of greatness, but it’s brought down by Push’s desire to venture into familiar territory”

    That is like criticizing Nas for staying lyrical.

    The obvious answer is that we want Clipse Pusha. When Clipse was hot Pusha was one of the BEST lyricists in THE GAME, and that was during a time when Em, Hov, T.I, Ye, Wayne, Budden and 50 were ALL spitting 100. But Pusha managed to dominate the coke rap genre and established himself as a lyrical titan.

    And now, when Pusha feels his roots in this album bolstered by Ye and Pharrell production you guys write a stupid comment like that above? Pusha spit molten hot fire through the whole tape and WITHOUT A DOUBT delivered some verses of the year. The only thing that knocks this album are guest features, not a fan of Chainz or Sean’s verses, and No Regrets hook is meh. Swap out Chainz and Sean for Ye on Who I am and you got an amazing album.

    Beats: XXL
    Lyrics: XXL
    Originality: XL

    9.3/10

    Best tracks: Nosetalgia, King Push, Hold On

    Worst tracks: Who I am.

  • DoubleClutch95

    So let me get this straight, production from Kanye, No ID, Pharrell, Swizz, and MNIMN doesn’t get a XXL for beats but Drake’s NWTS does??? Get the FOH XXL! I felt lyrics should of got a XXL, but that’s just me. Tracks like S.N.I.T.C.H., Let me Love You and 40 Acres are tracks Pusha has never done before and he killed it.

    Beats XXL
    Lyrics XXL
    Originality L

    • joe

      Couldn’t agree more, at least one categories (beats/lyrics) deserved a higher rating!

    • 8====D~~~~(.)(.) = babies

      this album will be revised to be an xxl in the future ..

    • trizzle

      While I definitely don’t think it will be revised into an XXL (there’s a couple of wack tracks and bad radio friendly attempts), I completely agree with the NWTS assessment. Not sure why that got an XXL for production.

  • Dentaldamboy

    As an accountant for YMCMB I can confirm Pusha T does not want to go to war with YMCMB. Wayne already said that if Pusha disses one more time, he will go DMX on him. The YMCMB army is built for war. Wayne a certified gangsta. He got 3 tear drops, did a bid on the island and all that. Wayne ethered rappers and even caused permanent damage to Dez Bryant’s knee. Pusha is wack. All Wayne has to do is throw him a rock and Pusha will fuck his life up again!!!!!!!!!

    • Lem

      easiest job ever, aren’t like the majority of them in debt?

    • that nig*a

      @77992008aeda7827437b67b8a2fcff8c:disqus
      I hope that was all sarcasm???
      Pusha T>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Lil Bird Stain..
      MNIMN Shoulda got an XXL in all categories In My Humble Opinion. This site is so f&*king biased and it’s blatant.

      • http://www.RealNigga.com/ ThirstyNigga3000

        He’s a troll from hiphopdx don’t worry about him.

  • Isometrisized

    …Also how did Lyrics not get an XXL?

    • The Truth

      his name isn’t Jay-Z or Kendrick Lamar….

      If hov put out this album it would have got a “XXXL” Rating.

      • quinton h

        no he wouldnt because that mchg was a great album and only got a xl when it should have got a xxl

        • The Truth

          MCHG was a “good” album.. the blueprint was a “Great” album and if hov would have been half the lyricist as pusha t has been on MCHG then it would have been a “GREAT” album. To each their own but you must re-evaluate your musical taste if you do consider MCHG a “XXL” caliber album.

        • Matt Cosgrove

          It was an average album.

  • Bobby

    After all the albums you guys give an XL to, this one should have got an XXL.

    • JuJu

      Couldn’t have said it any better

  • WholenotherLevel

    Highly Underrated, in almost every aspect.

    Double Clutch really hit it on the head:

    Beats: XXL
    Lyrics: XXL
    Originality: L

    is almost certainly a better representation of this album.

  • The Truth

    MNIMN Should have gotten that GKMC Treatment..

    This album is XXL Quality and should be respected.

    WTF are yall smoking?

    Beats: XXL
    Lyrics: XXXL (XXL) (the boy spits better than hov in his prime on this album)
    Originality: L

  • Patrick

    it’s like you didn’t even listened to the album…

  • Da Bo$$ DON Givenchy

    PUSHA TON MNIMN CLASSIC ALBUM OF THE YEAR. ITS ONLY $7.99 ON ITUNES. SUPPORT REAL HIP HOP. ” THE ALBUM IS NOW IN STORES”

  • The Source

    allmusic rated this as a classic
    and xxl review this as a mixtape rate
    now yall see….

  • Norman

    KING PUSH!!! Great rap album. This and Magna Carta have been really good hard hitting in your face records.

  • jay deluca

    album is dope copped the physical lastnight wrth my $ woooooooooooooooooooooo im on my ric flair stuffff lol

  • cmack510

    push never disappoints album is solid but a features were really wack on this…future?rick ross? not feelin it but overall i like his story telling XL for me

  • cp

    eat a dik XXL

  • J_Sleazy

    I don’t know who produced these beats on this, but there are fantastic.
    Seriously happy to not hear any EDM/Trap stuff.
    Pusha still has his coke raps, but this feel like a breath of fresh air.
    XXL to King Push.

  • M H

    A thug rapper claiming Virginia Beach has is hometown. WOW! What else are we going to believe? VA Beach is one of the safest cities in the country. Like Jay-Z said “We don’t believe you, you need more people”! Album should have got no rating for all the lies he telling. 12 tracks, 11 of them about crack lol give me more!

  • Stillmatic

    Album was crack besides that ridiculous Mase imitation on the Kelly Rowland featured joint and the song with Big Sean and 2 Chainz was kinda weak.

  • Matt Cosgrove

    This is why the rating system XXL applies is absolutely horrible. You can’t review and give a score to an album based on 3 parameters! This is clearly a XXL album in my opinion. It’s not the most original, but the beats and the lyrics especially more than make up for that. This site/magazine gives out XL ratings like candy on Halloween, and they barely give out ratings less than L. They need to start giving out M (if those even exist) and more Ls, and make XL something that artists really need to work for. Pusha T worked for it and deserves that XXL rating.

  • Robert Spears

    One of the best albums of last year.