In the age of stream trolling and triple-double super albums of nothingness, Pusha T’s seven solid tracks on his latest album Daytona is a breath of fresh air. Essentially, it’s exactly what you’d think a Pusha T album would be. It’s a lyrical ride laced with erratic Kanye West-produced beats where he often talks about his history in the drug game. It may be predictable, but it works.
Straight off the top, Pusha T reaches straight for the mic in the first couple seconds of the introductory track “If You Know You Know” and illustrates a luxurious life funded by, of course, crack/cocaine.
“The Games We Play” is a drug dealer anthem that proclaims his loyalty for the money that flows out of the illegal profession, and how the drug game influences his music to this day.
As the track-list moves along, we move into “Hard Piano” which has one of the catchier hooks of the album and a ton of quotables throughout the track:
“The Warhols on my wall paint a war story
Had to find other ways to invest
Cause you rappers found every way to ruin Pateks.” – Pusha T, “Hard Piano”
In the middle of the album, “Come Back Baby,” definitely stands out with its skeletal, unable-to-stop-nodding-your-head type instrumental. Pusha T uses the beat to his advantage, taking control of the track with a charismatic and funky flow. And that transition from “Come Back Baby” to “Santeria?” Woo, I swear it does something to my soul.
“Santeria” provides a well-needed emotional tone switch as he talks about the tragic murder of his friend and road manager De’Von Pickett. It pulls at my heart-strings to hear Push essentially talk to the late De’Von’s spirit about the events of that day, and his regrets.
The Kanye West-assisted track “What Would Meek Do?” is one of those braggadocious “I’m better than everyone else” tracks that essentially every rapper has to have on their Rap album in some form. Pretty predictable, but solid nonetheless. Kanye’s verse is about as mediocre as most of his lyrical content has been lately, but he does have a couple of interesting lines littered throughout.
“It won’t feel right ‘till I feel like Phil Knight
Goin’ for six rings like what Phil told Mike
Seven pill nights, you know what that feel like?
No more hidin’ the scars, I show ‘em like Seal right?” – Kanye West, “What Would Meek Do?”
The anchor track, “Infrared,” is essentially Pusha T’s hate letter to various rappers and their supposed inauthenticity. Additionally, he’s surely not too fond of rappers who don’t write their own raps *cough* Drake *cough*. A good portion of “Infrared” is Pusha commenting on society’s view of Hip-Hop, and why he’ll stay authentic no matter what.
“Remember when Will Smith won the first Grammy?
And they ain’t even recognize Hov until “Annie”
So I don’t tap dance for the crackers and sing Mammy
‘Cause I’m posed to juggle these flows and nose candy…” – Pusha T, “Infrared”
With over ten years worth of skill and knowledge of this Rap game, Pusha T is exactly where he needs to be. His brand of ‘Drug Dealer Rap’ still resonates even within a genre that, in this day and age, makes him an outlier. The lyrical content can get a bit stale at times (I mean, how many times can you reference the fact that he sold cocaine in an album until you feel the urge to scream?). But, he knows how to utilize his wordplay in a way to make it seem fresh. I enjoyed Kanye’s production a lot more than I thought I would. The whole album was incredibly seamless. Most of the time, I couldn’t even tell that a song had changed.
Daytona is the concrete that’s ensured Pusha’s stability inside the Rap game. He’s here to stay, whether you (or Drake) would want to see him. And, it’s refreshing to see that he’s fine with being nothing more, and nothing less, than himself. If you’re into solid wordplay and flow with well-thought-out production then you’re probably going to find something to like here. Be sure to give it a listen, at least once. – Nia Simone