This review should be prefaced with a disclaimer: My Name Is My Name is NOT the greatest hip-hop album of all time. In fact, it probably wouldn’t even be in the discussion. It’s not Aquemini or Illmatic. It’s not the conceptual masterpiece that Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city was.
But even though, as last year’s top album, good kid only garnered a 4.5 rating, My Name Is My Name is worthy of a 5-‘stache rating, solely because it’s the album hip-hop needed right now. It’s the album hip-hop’s been waiting for since last October, even if it’s not what hip-hop deserved.
It started in August and we have Big Sean to thank. Yes, the same Big Sean who polluted the airwaves with a song called “Fire.” After the sample used on his track “Control” didn’t get cleared, the future Mr. Naya Rivera didn’t have to release it to the masses. But, he knew what it contained: the verse that would awaken hip-hop.
Kendrick spit and the world took notice. The next day, with Twitter still losing its collective mind and every rapper in New York hopping on the beat and failing miserably to even come close to Mr. Lamar, the fourth rapper on K. Dot’s hit list went a different route. He responded with a tweet that read, “I hear u loud and clear my n*****… @kendricklamar.”
He wasn’t lying.
Pusha T has always been blessed with the dopest production, going back to the early days of Clipse, when he and Malice were anointed Pharrell’s favorite group and Skateboard P. was lacing them with the backdrops to smashes like “Grindin’” and “When The Last Time.”
My Name Is My Name is no exception. Now under the G.O.O.D. umbrella, Pusha T gets blessed by America’s favorite creative genius, who co-produces seven of the 12 tracks, as well as reuniting with Williams on a couple others. But Pusha isn’t just here to ride shotgun to the hottest collection of beats since N.E.R.D. put out a Best Of.
He shifts his flow like a chameleon to seamlessly and effortlessly adapt to each snare, each kick, to perfectly craft his tales of misogyny and the drug game.
The first sounds we heard from MNIMN were the album’s lead tracks, “King Push” and “Numbers On the Boards.” The simplicity with which Kanye hands over his canvas to the artist is breathtaking, and Push runs with it like Bob Ross with cornrows. Swizz Beatz joins ‘Ye to construct “Sweet Serenade,” which gives Push a little smoother palate for which to darken the vibe, while celebrating the darkness.
The album is not without guest appearances, with all but the first two tracks featuring assistance from someone, whether it be a hook or a verse. But Pusha T is in such control that he never comes close to being overshadowed—except maybe once, on MNIMN‘s high point.
Rick Ross on “Hold On” and Jeezy on “No Regrets” both deliver honest, on point performances that only add to Push’s debut and “Who I Am” lets 2 Chainz do 2 Chainz things. Destiny Child’s B-squad, Kelly Rowland, even pops up in the midst of Push doing a Ma$e impression that would impress Jay Pharoah on “Let Me Love You.”
But, as strong as the entire album is (with standouts like “Suicide” with Pharrell on the boards early on), Pusha saves the best for the last quarter of the album.
Sandwiched around the Future-crooned, shotgun-assisted “Pain” are probably the two best album cuts hip-hop has seen since “Backseat Freestyle” and “m.A.A.d city.” They also feature an all-star lineup, with Kanye and Pharrell taking turns and even the King stepping up to the plate.
The album ends with “S.N.I.T.C.H.,” featuring a raspy Pharrell on the hook while Pusha raps about the balancing act of being a homie and a rat, about the Feds always having their eyes open and the fact that sometimes, not everyone comes home. It’s the best beat the Neptunes vet has crafted in years, and it’s given to a worthy lyricist.
But the album’s pinnacle achievement is the Lamar-assisted “Nosetalgia.” This track alone deserves a 5-‘stache rating.
The simple backdrop Kanye provides lets Pusha T and K. Dot ride, and they take the wheel and leave everyone else in their dust.
Push paints a lyrical picture of his years in the dope game, with details precise enough that they could spawn a thousand future Walter Whites. Then comes the verse of the year from K. Dot. (Yes, technically, it’s better than his “Control” verse, just not as buzzworthy.)
No one can match the ability of Kendrick Lamar at this moment, possibly even in the history of hip-hop. Lamar blurs the line of poetry and song, and his knack for finding whatever flow is needed for a particular beat or moment is rivaled only by Biggie.
“Quantum physics could never show you the world I was in, when I was 10, back when nine ounces had got you 10,” he spits. “And nine times out of 10, n***** don’t pay attention, and when there’s tension in the air nines come with extensions.” Kendrick is king. Pusha T is in the royal family.
It’s kind of cheating to say this is Pusha T’s debut album. He’s been around for over a decade. But, ever since he stormed on stage in that flesh-colored blazer and delivered his “Runaway” verse, he stopped being the guy from Clipse and became a solo artist. He learned how to carry the load on two classic mixtapes. My Name Is My Name is a debut album from a seasoned vet, and it’s the best hip-hop album of 2013.
Pusha T – My Name Is My Name tracklist:
- “King Push”
- “Number On the Boards”
- “Sweet Serenade (feat. Chris Brown)”
- “Hold On (feat. Rick Ross)”
- “Suicide (feat. Ab-Liva)”
- “40 Acres (feat. The-Dream)”
- “No Regrets (feat. Jeezy and Kevin Cossom)”
- “Let Me Love You (feat. Kelly Rowland)”
- “Who I Am (feat. 2 Chainz and Big Sean)”
- “Nosetalgia (feat. Kendrick Lamar)”
- “Pain (feat. Future)”
- “S.N.I.T.C.H. (feat. Pharrell)”