Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pusha T's Keys Keep Opening New Doors

Before Pusha-T's first solo album drops on Black Friday, he is first planning to [re]bless the world later this month with Fear of God 2, a slight tweak of the three-month-old original version that is still getting heavy spin in the streets and on the Web alike.

With tons of positive feedback from the fans, critical acclaim from varying media outlets of note, a fledgling acting career, and, most importantly, a Kanye co-sign, the artist formerly known as Terrar is poised for a debut that could for the first time in a long while unite rap purists and champions of the so-called underground -- who appreciate Pusha for his ability to kick effective flows with serious wordplay and vocabulary regardless of genre or subject matter -- with its formidable hip-pop and down south trap rap counterparts -- who tend to favor swagger over substance. Lucky for everybody, Pusha exudes all of these characteristics, and then some.

And although Malice -- who is no slouch on the mic -- may add depth and introspect where his younger brother favors a flashier style of rhyming, Pusha has been for a long time widely regarded as the better rapper of the two.

Usually when it comes to most if not all rap groups, one or even each of the group's rappers will eventually go solo. But for the Clipse, who have been a professional rap duo since they signed to Elektra around 1996 (their would-be first album ultimately got shelved by the label, only to be re-issued by Star Trak 11 years later), it took 15 years for Pusha to go solo. (Pusha vows there will be another Clipse album.)

What was the hold up? The streets wanted it, and it was the streets who helped Lord Willin' sell more than a million copies. Why not give the streets what they wanted; especially since street life comprised such a large portion of their material?

To Pharrell's credit, Pusha was featured on plenty of other artists' music, including and especially Justin Timberlake's Like I Love You, which was a platinum single on a multi-platinum album that for sure added an extra zero to the Clipse's bank accounts.

And every verse that Pusha to soloist spit on a feature was lyrically and rhyme-wise nothing short of flawless.

And with Chad and Pharrell liberally rewarding their childhood friends with record contracts, people wanted to know where Pusha's solo deal was.

Then along came the 2010 VMAs and out of nowhere Pusha pops up sporting a Miami Vice-inspired salmon-colored blazer, kicking his verse from Kanye's Runaway, delivering a lyrical ultimatum to any female who thinks they can do better without him: "Split and go where? Back to wearing knock-offs? Ha! Knock it off," before offering a friendly reminder, "Every bag, every blouse, every bracelet/ Comes with a price tag, baby, face it."

But don't think just because of Pusha's new found association with Mr. West that he lost any of his edge, as demonstrated on the aforementioned Fear of God mixtape -- specifically whenever he returns to his comfort zone that is his penchant for seemingly endless cocaine metaphors: "Got me looking at the crown from a bird's eye view/ 'Cause I hit the ground running from the birds I flew," and, "They say I talked coke for nine years long/ that means my rap sheet is more than nine years strong/ you niggas woulda thought that I was nine years gone/ but I'm still in the mix like nine ounces and a straw."

However, with celebration comes cynicism, and, in a classic case of the crabs in a barrel syndrome, Pusha's G.O.O.D. Music label mate and rap veteran Consequence has unfortunately taken umbrage at Pusha's position as the next rapper on the label scheduled to release an album.

It will be interesting to see how the working relationship between Pusha and Pharrell evolves, seeing as Pharrell has bit of a pattern of longtime collaborators seemingly eager to work with producers other than the Neptunes -- Kelis, Usher, Robin Thicke, Justin Timberlake, to name a few.

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