Pusha T, ‘My Name Is My Name’ [ALBUM REVIEW]
Stage names have always afforded rappers the luxury of exaggeration, or in some rather high-profile cases, a new identity entirely. But for Terrence Thornton, Pusha T represents nothing more than a nickname.
Over the last 14 years as one-half of the Clipse, and the last three as a solo artist on Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music label, the Bronx-born, Virginia-raised rapper has established himself as one of the most lyrically-skilled, well-studied and above all, authentic MCs of his generation. But after a few false starts to his priesthood under the Church of Yeezus, King Push finally reigns supreme on his long-awaited debut solo album, 'My Name Is My Name.'
Pyrex P wastes no time in delivering his mission statement: "I rap, n---a, 'bout trap n---as, I don't sing hooks," he repeats on the rumbling album opener, 'King Push.' This sentiment anchors the bulk of the album as the veteran from Virginia delivers more master classes in dope deals and even doper rhymes on standouts 'Numbers on the Boards,' 'Suicide,' featuring old Re-Up Gang running mate Ab-Liva, and the coke rap opus, 'Nosetalgia,' which contains arguably Kendrick Lamar's second best guest verse after 'Control.' Pusha was no push over, though.
Clipse die-hards are well catered to on 'MNIMN,' but where No Malice once played the ying to Pusha's yang, the younger Thornton brother truly expands his lyrical scope, providing a balance to his dope boy perspective. This progress is no better found than on the curtain closer 'S.N.I.T.C.H.' (an acronym for 'Sorry N---a, I'm Tryna Come Home.' Pharrell, you genius). Inspired by a close friend's decision to talk to the feds to shed time off his sentence, he mourns the spirit of a broken soldier before turning on every rapper for not being 'bout that life: "Let's talk real n---as, let's speak real, n---a/ How many n---as you know snitching you ain't killed, n---a?" The realest s--t Terrence ever wrote.
'My Name Is My Name' isn't without its hiccups though. Despite touching on No Malice's path to enlightenment and his currently incarcerated former manager, '40 Acres' was better left as a diary entry than a virtually a capella track on your debut studio album. Hudson Mohawke and Beewirks' production pummels you from all angles on the Jeezy and Kevin Cossom-assisted 'No Regrets,' but as the not-so-inconspicuous token club anthem, it fails to leave many bruises. A flawless Ma$e impression notwithstanding, 'Let Me Love You' disappointingly detracts from the album's consistent theme.
In almost every other interview in the months leading up to its release this week, Pusha T channeled his inner-DJ Khaled and crowned 'My Name Is My Name' "the best hip-hop album of the year." Although there's still 82 days left on the calendar to settle that debate, there is a level of immediate truth to his statement. In an era in which rappers are actually free to express their natural, human emotions (Jay Z 'Jay Z Blue,' Kanye West 'Blood on the Leaves,' every Drake record except 'Versace'), Push-A-Ton's traditional drug dealer tales and dope boy ambitions no longer correspond with the zeitgeist of modern rap.
But that only highlights the fact that 'My Name Is My Name' is the strongest street rap album in years.