Pusha T: The Joker of Rap

May 24, 2022

The current state of hip hop is saturated with charismatic playboys, flag-waving baby gangsters, and emo backpack rappers, all regurgitating simplistic rhymes over repetitive 808 beats.

In a world full of copy and paste artists where the image is more important than skill and popularity is worth more than longevity, the irrefutable Pusha T has managed to carve out his lane as the real villain in Rap’s Gotham City.

With his latest masterpiece, “It’s Almost Dry,” the Virginia lyricist further solidifies his spot as arguably one the best while continuing to strike fear in the hearts of hip-hop and hip-pop superheroes.

Pusha T is to coke raps what Serina Williams is to tennis.

Photograph by James Willamor via Flickr

One half of the legendary duo the Clipse, with his brother Malice, Push’s sinister voice and pristine wordplay have set him apart from his peers for the last 20 years. This legacy continues as he draws listeners in, going into great detail about the highs and the lows of the drug kingpin lifestyle. Not since prime Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, and Raekwon has a rapper painted a picture this vivid.

From the stove to the booth, Pusha T doesn’t waste a single line as he serves the fiends—I mean fans—raw and uncut bars of coke (pun intended). He delivers every drug metaphor possible with his signature, almost psychotic chuckle as you o.d. on the pure madness of a veteran rapper who is only getting better with time.

In many ways, “It’s Almost Dry” is Pusha T’s magnum opus. His effortless flows paired with Pharrell Williams and Kanye West’s lush production further solidify the Virginian wordsmith as a formidable nemesis. However, Push’s gift for spitting drug raps is what many hip-hop heads view as his curse.

However, with a project this pristine and precise, who the fuck cares?

What Pusha T was able to craft alongside the brilliance of the multidimensional Skateboard P and Yeezy is nothing short of high art in its purest form. The magnificent chemistry between Pusha and Pharrell (which dates back to their high school days) and Pusha and Ye (who have been working side by side since Kanye’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”) is on full display throughout the entire album.

These superproducers lay the groundwork for King Push to dive deeper into his life of crime, even more so than on his classic project, the 2018 Daytona, which is evident on the opening track, ‘Brambleton’ produced by Pharrell and “Dreamin of the Past” produced by and featuring Kanye West. The trio cohesively curates the score to Pusha’s life, taking us on a journey from the past to the present with a glimpse into what the future holds for rap’s drug lord.

The Virginia emcee never shies away from the drug dealer lifestyle; he embraces it. Push has served his core fanbase exactly what they’ve asked for for the last two decades, to his critics’ dismay: hardcore raps over lux soundscape with a sense of humor and splash of arrogance. On tracks like “Just So You Remember,” he vainly brags about being the God when it comes to this cocaine rap shit, “The book of blow, just know I’m the Genesis,” and quite honestly, who can argue with him? Pusha’s ability to not only dial in and connect directly with the everyday street hustler but also impress rap fanatics with his limitless array of anecdotes from his former life is a feat in and of itself.

Even on the flip side of Push’s bravado, he still finds a clever way to speak his truth in the bombastic “Let The Smokers Shine The Coupe.” He spits, “The dope game destroyed my youth now Kim Jones Dior my suits,” allowing the world to see that the scars of the past are still there even with all the success.

Pusha’s third album, the Kanye West-produced “Daytona,” was named album of the year by Rolling Stones and Highsnobiety back in 2018. Four years later, critics state that “It’s Almost Dry” is another AOTY candidate with seven months left to go in 2022. Quite impressive for the 44-year-old rap veteran.

But the truth is, Pusha T’s latest body of work is his best to date. As one of the OGs in hip-hop, Push’s ability to craft two classics back-to-back speaks to how good he is at what he does. No one can rap about wrapping bricks better than Pusha T.

He is only getting better with time and has no signs of stopping at this point in his career. The 12-track project gives the listener a closer look at a man who is not afraid to bet on himself and go against everything mainstream while bodying today’s hottest rappers, leaving them shaking in their Nikes boots.

The pure conviction of his rhymes in which he speaks his truth is what strikes fear and admiration in his opponents. As he declares on the track “Rock N Roll,” “I’m the trap, I’m the fix, I’m the broker, I’m The Joker In the deck, Arthur Fleck, when he’s pissed, triple six,” showing the world that behind notoriety this gifted man is still dealing with his demons. Pusha T is one of the last true archenemies of hip-pop, a role he embraces with cunning, resolve, and resilience.

In the cinematic soundscape of “It’s Almost Dry,” the Joker has the last laugh.

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