Album Review: Pusha T’s My Name Is My Name
In the debut studio solo album of one half of the legendary rap duo Clipse, listeners and supporters are left to wonder what Pusha’s name is, or better still, what his name will be.
Clipse were legendary for their “cocaine raps” with an elevated level of sophistication in the lyrics laid atop Neptunes beats. They gave us two classic albums using that singular formula. When Malice ,the other half of Clipse, decided to change his persona to that of a Christian rapper, the group as we knew it ceased to exist. This left us with a third album that left Clipse fans, and fans of Pusha unsatisfied and in need of direction. Fairly or unfairly, the legacy of cocaine rap as established by Clipse has been left with Pusha.
Clipse with Malice pictured on the right
That is the problem with this album. Pusha doesn’t leave us with anything to associate himself with aside from his Clipse legacy. In fact, a man whom a friend of mine aptly dubbed “a rapper’s rapper” reminds us that he may not be distinguishable from many other rappers if not for the unique overall sound of the Clipse at that time. [Ed. Note: Were they blinged off that Neptunes sound?]
Of the fifteen tracks on the album, thirteen have guest appearances. This is reminiscent of a SoSo Def production featuring Jermaine Dupri, or the 1990’s “solo” releases of the late great Nate Dogg, where every song featured another prominent artist. There are great songs on the album, but it leaves the listener wondering if post Clipse Pusha can carry an album by himself.
In the Kanye produced King Push and Numbers on the Boards, Pusha reminds us of where he has come from, and what he’s done, bestowing him legendary status. I’m pretty sure he takes some shots at Jay-Z with the use of the “A Million and One Questions” sample followed with some disparaging remarks. But this could very well be pure speculation on my part. I wouldn’t even mind if it were a shot at Jay. It’s just that Pusha has a history of making these kinds of ambiguous statements and not definitively stating their meaning one way or another.
My Name is My Name is a thirteen-track amalgamation of featured artists and producers. The best way I can describe it is as an all-star team playing together for the first time. The athletes are good (the songs), but the team (the album) isn’t as good as it should be, could be or will be. The team is struggling to find its identity.
Going forward, ”bangers’ are songs that you would have no problems listening to 2 or 3 times in a row.
This is what your face looks like when you’re listening to a banger
Sweet Serenade; Hold On; Suicide; 40 Acres (in no particular order)
Sweet Serenade featuring Chris Brown and produced by Swizz Beats is a banger that Chris Brown carries with the hook.
Hold On feat Rick Ross and produced by Kanye has a great beat, but Ross is underwhelming enough to the fact that Pusha’s lyrics just seem average.
Suicide featuring Ab Liva and produced by Pharrell is the classic Neptunes sound and drug flow that we loved the Clipse for though Ab Liva’s verse was better than Pusha’s.
40 Acres featuring The Dream and produced by the Dream is a song where Pusha shows us that his rhymes are greater or “more conscious” than what we may take them for. The problem is, that message, which I happen to think is the one he was trying to get across for the entire album is lost amongst the deluge of personalities and sounds that flood the album. This song is emblematic of the album. It’s a good song with a decent beat and guest appearance, but that’s all it was.
Chris Brown (Sweet Serenade)
Rick Ross (Hold On)
Ab Liva in Suicide (My Name is My Name)
The Dream (40 Acres for My Name is My Name)
No Regrets; Let Me Love You; Who I Am
No Regrets featuring Jeezy, Kevin Cossom and produced by Hudson Mohawke is a banger that similar to Sweet Serenade is carried by Kevin Cossom on the hook.
Let Me Love You featuring Kelly Rowland and produced by The Dream is another banger that once again is carried by the beat and Kelly Rowland on the hook. <
Who I Am, featuring 2 Chainz, Big Sean and produced by Kanye West is a banger where Pusha is sandwiched both in the song and therefore in your mind by 2Chainz and Big Sean. This is not to say that he has a bad verse, but the only takeaways from the song were the guest appearances.
Kevin Cossom and Jeezy – not pictured – (No Regrets)
Kelly Rowland (Let Me Love You)
2 Chainz and Big Sean (Who I Am)
Nosetalgia featuring Kendrick Lamar produced by Kanye West is a banger period.
Pain , featuring Future is an adequte song, but it seems misplaced on the album. It actually troubled me the most for I saw where Pusha in advocating for this project to be album of the year stated “there is something for everybody on this album”. While that is good marketing perhaps in the sense that he is reaching for Future fans, it seems like he lost sight of what his debut solo project should have been about which was establishing himself and where he was going with the Clipse brand which helped to establish the very legend that he alludes to. He doesn’t necessarily separate from or continue in with that legacy in this project.
Collaborated with Kendrick Lamar (Nosetalgia)
Future on Pain (My Name is My Name)
This leads us to the final song on the album S.N.I.T.C.H. , featuring and produced by Pharrell. It is actually a thought provoking song about a fictional conversation with a former friend who was a snitch. In the song, Pusha talks about what it meant to deal with those feelings he had towards such a close friend, while simultaneously coping with the stigma of being so closely associated with a snitch. While the beat is not overwhelming, and Pharrell does not overpower us on the hook, the message of the song is clear, unique and memorable. It’s unfortunate Pusha chose to do a “best of who I know” album.
Final rating: 7/10