Def Jam Records
Pusha T’s debut studio album “My Name is My Name” takes one of the rap game’s most gifted wordsmiths and unleashes his drug-filled past into the world. And although it may not be the best album of the year, it is certainly the most aptly named.
“My Name Is My Name” is one of the more popular phrases said by Marlo Stanfield, a drug dealer in the critically-acclaimed television drama, "The Wire." It should come as no surprise, then, that the album sounds like a musical synopsis of "The Wire." We follow Pusha T into the familiar territory of pushing his drugs and dealing with snitches on 'Nosetalgia' and 'S.N.I.T.C.H.' He then takes us to the unfamiliar emotion of King Push as he deals with love and the loss of a friend on the '90s-throwback tracks 'Let Me Love You' and 'Pain.' What with 'Numbers on the Board,' 'Nosetalgia' and '40 Acres,' there are just too many good tracks to ignore.
The list of producers for this album is one of the more impressive lists of the year, with collaborators like Hudson Mohawke, Pharrell, The Neptunes, Swizz Beats and of course, Yeezus himself. And Mr. West is all over this album. West produced seven of the twelve songs, contributed background vocals to 'Hold On' and probably had a hand in the minimalist, barcode-sporting album cover.
While I would argue that the album has too much drug talk, it’s nearly impossible to argue that the day-in-the-life-of-a-drug-dealer track, 'Nosetalgia,' is not the best track on the album.
There’s no chorus. No complex beat. No tricks. Just a few guitar riffs, soft drums, a Boogie Down Productions sample and two of the most talented wordsmiths in the game spitting the hottest verses since Kendrick’s lines on 'Control.' King Push and King Kendrick offer some of the most insightful verses in recent memory.
Pusha T is ten years older than Kendrick, and it shows on the track. Both were affected by the '80’s crack epidemic in very different ways. Looking at the contrast is amazing on this song. Pusha's choice is described on 'Pain': “Coulda been Trayvon / but instead I chose Avon.” He had to choose between being the victim or being the kingpin, and he made the choice to take part in the drug business. As Omar would say, “Play or get played.” Kendrick was not the drug dealer Push was, but this doesn’t mean he hasn’t seen the effects up close and personal. The second half of his verse is strictly about Kendrick overtaking his father and grandfather and becoming their “connect.” The two gifted rappers manage to pull you into their former worlds; while what you see may be glamorized elsewhere, it's too real here for any such appeal.
Pusha T breaks new ground, as he needed to do, but it would have been nice to see him drop his guard a little and put his gifted mind to rapping about more than his shady past. I would have loved to see more songs like 'Pain' (minus Future) and 'Let Me Love You.' It's still hard, however, to state that Pusha T didn’t put out one of the most impressive hip-hop albums of the year. If we’re considering “Yeezus” rap, which it’s really not, then “My Name is My Name” is the second-best rap record of 2013 thus far.