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Hip Hop Culture for Grown-Ups

The Breakdown: Phlip Gives A Play-By-Play Review Of Pusha T’s My Name Is My Name

Words by Phlip

After months on top of months of pushbacks the internet FINALLY blesses us with the solo debut of former Clipse Member Pusha T.

I can’t say how I felt about this album leading in, having seen him go from group member, to featured artist  and now he is on his own for a feature-length album of his own…or as “on his own” as one can expect out of hip hop artists in 2013, more on that later.

I DO know that I expected some slick wordplay, well-played metaphors and for him to continue telling tales of a life as a coke dealer that has actually already been discredited, but who expects our artists to actually have DONE the shit they talk about doing anymore?

Anyway, let’s get into the music.

1 – King Push
The beat here starts off weird and kind of cryptic as one might expect from Kanye West as of late. Pusha immediately jumps on in at the onset of the bass. Kanye’s beat picks up elements as the lyrics develop to match.

The hook here is minimalist, and as expected we get well-presented coke raps. The saving grace of the song – despite the growingly complex beat – is its simplicity and the fact that we get two verses and the beat finishes off a good portion of the end of the song.

2 – Numbers on the Boards
Seconds in and I love this beat already. Again, we get no intro bars or extra drama coming into the song.  I am noticing that we’re getting money talk, coke talk, sports references and punchlines, but not much in the way of substance here.

Don Cannon and Kanye’s Primo-esque beat makes this song feel a LOT harder than it probably is, and again the song’s simplicity and 2:44 running time might be its saving grace overall.

3 – Sweet Serenade (feat. Chris Brown)
Wait…  Featuring who? Whoever this heavily voice-corrected person is doesn’t sound like the same dude from the Doublemint commercial.

Never mind, looks like we’re about to get our first song featuring an actual hook now. Pusha’s rhyme patterns on this song work very well against Swizz Beatz’s backdrop.  It is with unfortunate irony that I say that I was pretty sure that this was a Swizz beat before I looked up to check.

Chris Brown’s hook is forgettable, and the subject veers away from the norm, favoring another cliché in violence as a “my raps are better than yours” metaphor.

This song was not bad at all, though.

4 – Hold On (feat. Billy Bobb The Boss Rick Ross)
I don’t know who this Hudson Mohawke cat who made this beat is, but the first 7 seconds of the beat reminds me of Kanye West on 808s and Heartbreak and that other album that came after that (note, I HATED both of those), so this song is starting off as an uphill battle.
Dammit, right in on the “I sold a bunch of dope” tales right at the beginning. Does Mr. Thornton realize that an investigation got one their people knocked and them set loose without even being considered as suspects in the case? Shit, I need to back up and listen to this song again.

Okay…  Lyrically, as expected, Pusha brings it, transitioning from a 3-syllable end-of-line pattern to a internal rhyme scheme and backing off to the 3-syllable scheme back at the end of the first verse.

Without warning or a hook (yet), we have another imaginary crack dealer jump in the fray and employ a technically inferior lyrical approach.  Ross’ verse is no different from anything we always hear from him, and we’re rewarded on the other side of the annoying hook with 4 more bars of it, then he trades lines (well, line as they just repeat it) for the rest of the song.

No sir, I didn’t like it.

5 – Suicide (feat. Ab-Liva)
Before I even START this song, I will say it is a good thing to see people keep the people that came with them on as best they can. I mean, no one is much checking for Ab-Liva, but he has been around Pusha and The Clipse since no one was checking for them either.

As expected, Pharrell is on the beat (where the hell has Chad Hugo been of late?), and also as expected Pusha is at home on the beat. As ever, he does his money/dope/crime thing and I guess you should have come into this album pretty much expecting that.  This song, marrying beats to lyrics from people familiar with working with one another, is really good.

Ab’s verse is nothing Earth-shattering, but I said that he was familiar with the Thornton brothers’ work, not that he was on their level lyrically.

Make no mistakes, I liked this song.

6 – 40 Acres (feat. The-Dream)
Seriously, is Terius Nash starting this song off with one of those nature show ballads?

Okay, Pusha is employing a slightly subdued, almost angry, tone of voice and I am not angry with that. For the first time on the album we hear mention of his brother, No Malice. Notice, I said MENTION, because as a gospel rapper, he will more than likely not be getting on a song with his brother anymore until he backslides like Mase did.

This song wants to be better than it winds up being and the lyrics match well with whatever it is The-Dream and Rico Beats are trying to accomplish. I am giving that more to Pusha than I am to the producers, because the hook makes this song a lot worse than it has to be. The second voice takes on a stronger and angrier tone, and I like how it comes across.

It isn’t a bad song, but I am not sure it ever makes any point related to its title other than the USE of the words “40 Acres.”

7 – No Regrets (feat, Young Jeezy & Kevin Cossom)
Hey look, another crack rapper whose team was investigated but escaped uncharged and unbothered!

I don’t know who is guilty of this beat, but it comes across as something tailored for Jeezy’s flow and subject.  Pusha goes first on this “real nigga” anthem; making stops at all the clichés that remind us of the hosts’ realness, lack of regrets and the size of their bank accounts.

It seems that EVERY time I tell people that I just can’t get into Young Jeezy, I am looked at like I have an alien growing out of my forehead. As predicted above, this beat sets the perfect backdrop to his rhyme (non-) patterns. They tricked me by giving me another Pusha verse to end the song and to be honest, I can deal with simply skipping this one on subsequent listens.

8 – Let Me Love You (feat Kelly Rowland)
Before I got a chance to listen to this album the first time yesterday, a friend of mine mentioned this song on FaceBook as a homage to Mase. I chuckled it off, but as soon as I heard the song, I could see EXACTLY where he was coming from with that statement when looking at the song stylistically. The beat and hook reminded me of a ’98 Bad Boy production, and the rhymes made the Mase assessment spot-on.

What forces you to acknowledge, though, is that Mase was never as horrible a rhymer as some might want to us remember him as. Simply put, this song MIGHT be better with a better hook, but as it were, it is okay.  Nothing will happen that makes you run back to it. The beat is not bad or anything and this song exists in that “love rap song on every album” standard.

9 – Who I Am (Feat 2 Chainz & Big Sean)
This album is beginning to read as a “who you need to feature to recoup in 2013” list.

The only reason I can imagine that 2 Chainz is on this album has to do with what label it is being released under.  Pusha has dumbed his rhymes down to the level of his guest on this one and the beat is a mish-mash of elements presented from DJ Mano and Kanye himself. Personally, I hear nothing “Kanye” about it.

I am going to go ahead and be honest; I don’t like 2 Chainz. I don’t like anything he has ever made or been involved with and it is HIGHLY unlikely I ever will.  I mean, the only way this song could be any worse is if–…

Shit… (not so) Big Sean is on this too? So now I have the only lyricist on the song dumbing himself down, Tauheed Epps being Tauheed Epps and now Diminutive Sean is back from his “bodied by Kendrick” hiatus and already throwing his weird little man voice inflections around recklessly.

I would have fast forwarded if I weren’t listening with the purpose of objectivity. I savored this song’s merciful end.

10 – Nosetalgia (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
First thing I noticed is that the title of this song is misspelled. I TRIPLE checked to make sure my DL wasn’t messed up.

Never mind that, though, because I like Nottz’ beat. The sound of the song at the outset is befitting to what the title would be if it were spelled properly. A return to the proper rhyme patterns and references and I am not mad at that at all.

Hey, speaking of Kendrick (which I did on the last song), he is back with that same voice he used to make hip hop very angry back over the summer.  He is doing this beat justice, and I am not mad at his continuation of what he started before. If I could get past my dislike of his voice in general, I might consistently like this kid more than I currently do.

In total, this song was not bad at all.

11 – Pain (feat. Future)
I find it only fitting that this song is titled what it is, given it features Scooby Doo on Autotune Future, because the hook might hurt your soul.

Pusha is punching short lines at a time, not using the whole bar for his lines, but I think that has as much to do with how Kanye’s beat is made as it does anything else. I say that because that assessment applies to the hook as well.  Luckily, Future’s voice is not as loud as the radio has taught us to expect of him.

HOLY SHIT, KANYE SAMPLED THE GRINDIN’ DRUMS!!! sorry about that…

Seriously, though, this song would be infinitely more likeable with a different feature on the hook.  The beat was well-done and the Grindin’ sample — though only 8 seconds long — took me there for a moment. Plus the raps employed were not bad at all.

12 – S.N.I.T.C.H. (feat. Pharrell)
“Sorry, Nigga, I’m Tryna Come Home.” Get it?

No D-Boy album is complete without at least ONE of these songs. I guess if you’re gonna follow a paint-by-numbers hip hop album script, it is only fitting that you have one (or some, as The Neptunes – meaning Chad is along for the ride this time) of the best in the business paint that background for you.

A slow-starter, this beat picks up pieces on the way to getting big on sound, without being huge or abrasive. Look, we know what the song will be about.  Let us pay attention to HOW the story we already know will be told actually gets told.

Again, applying those rhyme patterns and attention to syllables makes the story completely interesting enough to hold our attention alongside the beat as presented.

Pharell reminds us what the acronym stands for without getting too in-the-way of the song.

And like that, close curtains.

What I liked:  Terrance only mailed it in lyrically on one song, really.

What I LOVED:  Number of skits/interludes = zero

What needs work: 12 tracks, 10 were assisted.

I am coming to grips with the fact that what I just couldn’t leave without being disappointed in with this album is going to be an issue with ANY album with a budget such as this…

And also, it was not as good on my third listen as it was on my first; falling from “damn good, I might drop a $10 on this,” down to “meh… this download will do it.”

I would call this a “listen to this in the car so the people on the bus stop think you’re cool” album, but not necessarily something you will put in and listen to just for the hell of it.

It will move a few units, but ultimately falls short of what I feel we could have gotten out of him.

Words by Phlip
@callmephlip

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2 comments on “The Breakdown: Phlip Gives A Play-By-Play Review Of Pusha T’s My Name Is My Name

  1. Isometricide
    October 7, 2013

    Just Damn,

    
In a year ladled with many major releases, Pusha T’s, My Name Is My Name some how manages to buck both trends and every other major release, to be become one of best records released this year. In many ways it seems to be Yeezus done right, while the rest reaks of raw undiluted metaphors and lyrical skill. But where Yeezus and Magna Carta Holy Grail failed, My Name Is My Name gets it so right. Pusha T has undoubtedly cemented himself as a true quality driven artist with this LP.



    Every track feels carefully thought out and is mechanically sound, while all featured artists are utilized to their max potential, enhancing both the mood and style of the album. (Especially Kendrick Lamar on Nosetalgia) All of the beats are both creative, while still folding into the album nicely. Particular Standouts include those done by the Neptunes and Good Music.

    
Pusha T is quite effective at painting a lifestyle good bad turned to artist hungry to reach the top of the game. While Yeezy, excellent production serves as a suitable backdrop. The different between this and Yeezus, however is that Pusha T, truly retains the lyrical ability to back it up.

    
It is difficult not to reap this album enormous praise, when it so perfectly delivers on exactly what was promised.



    Perhaps the only real “issue” with this LP are the questionable additions of MC; “Big Sean” and “2 Chainz” neither of which can even come close to holding their own lyrically with Pusha. Both of there versus feel unintentionally awkward and funny on and all but introspective and fascinating album.

    
Yet, neither of them are truly enough to detract from the album as a whole.


    Surely, a classic in the making.

    
A well deserved, 4.5 out of 5.

    Like

  2. Massacred
    October 7, 2013

    Nosetalgia is missed spelled intentionally. Being a play on words themeaticaly tying in with the song. Nose is refecing the use of cocaine, taglia = Nosliagia. Cocaine in the past. Pusha speaks from the persepxrtce of the dealer, while Kendrick lines drive from personal experience.

    Like

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This entry was posted on October 7, 2013 by in new music, Phlip, rap record reviews, The Breakdown, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .

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