Pusha T - My Name Is My Name
Release Date: October 8, 2013
Record Label: GOOD Music
Although My Name Is My Name may be Pusha T's debut album, the 36-year old rapper is no stranger to the game. For years, Pusha T and his brother Malice released music together as the duo Clipse, and their 2006 album Hell Hath No Fury is one of the most essential albums in the genre from the past decade. But following their just average Til The Cakset Drops in 2009, Clipse was put on hold and Pusha T had to begin exploring his opportunities as a solo artist.
While Pusha T was something of a veteran by the time he eventually signed to Kanye West's GOOD Music in 2010, he still needed someone to lead the way for his solo career. Right around this time, West was gearing up to release My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and had begun to make his GOOD roster a force to be reckoned with. After the two came together, Pusha T ignited tracks like “Runaway” and “So Appalled” with his vicious style, but his solo work that followed after (the free mixtape Fear of God and its sequal EP Fear of God II) failed to live up to his initial promise as a solo artist. But on the GOOD Music Compilation Cruel Summer, Pusha T reminded the world why the pairing of him and Kanye West was so exciting to begin with.
Thankfully, My Name Is My Name, despite the numerous delays and setbacks, is the best thing Pusha T has put his name on since Hell Hath No Fury. With West's steady hand guiding him the whole way, the album finds Pusha T more invigorated and powerful than he has been in years. The triumphant “King Push” kicks off the album with the mission statement “I rap ***** 'bout trap ******/I don't sing hooks.” The Kanye produced track features the same vocal chop you may recognize from “New Slaves,” weaving in and out of some of the most frantic trap production of the year. It follows the same kind of “less is more” mentality that Yeezus had, and the following track “Numbers On The Board” sticks by the same mantra. Like “King Push,” there's no hook in sight, just Pusha's hard-nosed rhymes and small breaks to let the beat shine through.
There are your more traditional pop-rap oriented songs here, though they still rely heavily on Pusha's rapping to pull things together. “Sweet Serenade” has the unfortunate inclusion of a Chris Brown hook, but its by the books, inoffensive, and a lot more desirable than Swizz Beats deciding to take his production credit a step further and gracing the track with one of his infamous shouting hooks. The spotlight here is all on Pusha T though, and his verses are strong enough to make you forget that this song even has a hook. While the album may be filled to the brim with guest spots, many are relegated to simple hook features, or in the case of Kanye West on “Hold On,” warbled auto-tune singing that serves more as an instrument rather than an actual voice. The-Dream helps bring feeling and emotion to “40 Acres,” one of the most personal songs on the album, and while it may be heavily indebted to The-Dream's lush production style, Pusha spills his heart out, making the song very much his own. Elsewhere, Kelly Rowland offers her vocals to “Let Me Love You,” a pretty standard sexual song with a cool, laid back R&B style that, while very much enjoyable, sounds a little out of place compared to the rest of the album.
Other rappers show up occasionally throughout the album, and most of them do a fine job of trying to keep up with the rabid Pusha T, though Pusha couldn't care less about accommodating his guests, like on “Hold On” where he writes off rappers who don't actually sell dope, only for Rick Ross to come through a few minutes later. There's a subtle irony here, but the both of them are such good rappers that it becomes something of an afterthought. The most exhilarating of the guest spots, though, comes when Kendrick Lamar shows up on “Nosetalgia,” a song that calls back to “Numbers On The Board” with its all rapping and no filler mentality. Pusha and Kendrick are a match made in heaven, and picking who had the better verse here is a near impossible task. So while Pusha is constantly looking out for Pusha, he still feeds off of the energy from his guests to help improve his own rhymes.
My Name Is My Name is one of the best debut albums of the year, but since Pusha T is far from a new artist, he's got a leg-up on many of the newcomers to the genre. He uses this to his advantage and churns out some of the most energized rap songs in recent memory seemingly effortlessly. Really, though, it's just nice to see the guy that made our jaws drop on Hell Hath No Fury is essentially back to where he once was. At this rate, Pusha T is well on his way to releasing a classic album as a solo artist, and if My Name Is My Name isn't that album, it definitely isn't too far off.