Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Pusha T

  • Fear of God II--Let Us Pray [GOOD/Decon/Re-Up Gang, 2011] A-
  • My Name Is My Name [Def Jam, 2013] A-
  • King Push: Darkest Before Dawn--The Prelude [Def Jam/G.O.O.D. Music, 2015] *
  • Daytona [G.O.O.D. Music EP, 2018] A

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Fear of God II--Let Us Pray [GOOD/Decon/Re-Up Gang, 2011]
You know him--runs Clipse Cocaine LLC with his sharp-voiced brother Malice, who want you to know that, in the hallowed tradition of Handsome Dick Manitoba, music is just a hobby for them. The grand beats are safer than the clenched, confining, arrogantly hookless minimalism of Hell Hath No Fury. But every mean word delivers, and with cameos from Tyler the Creator to 50 Cent it's as if he never went solo. Like it or not, the volume dealer who raps for pocket money remains a good act--does he sound miserable in his thousand-dollar sneakers. Of course, we who buy our footwear online may prefer the price of the mixtape where half these tracks surfaced last spring. So maybe it would be poetic to try and obtain this improved version free as well. He won't spray us. That's just talk. A-

My Name Is My Name [Def Jam, 2013]
The enduring artistic value of Pusha's clipped flow is how masterfully it evokes what Caucasians call a prick. There's no romance in his dope tales, no pleasure either. Where long ago Kelefa Sanneh observed that Jay-Z never told us how the champagne tasted, King All-I-Can-Be never drives the cars he treats better than his hoes. This is what ruthless acquisitiveness sounds like. To reduce it to music is a true achievement. But ask yourself whether it's what you want. Don't lie now. A-

King Push: Darkest Before Dawn--The Prelude [Def Jam/G.O.O.D. Music, 2015]
Well-bent Timbeats back the usual easy coca lies/hard coca truths and are docked a notch for arrogating Freddie Gray and Public Enemy into the kind of protest rap I thought he was too real for. ("Crutches, Crosses, Caskets," "Retribution") *

Daytona [G.O.O.D. Music EP, 2018]
G.O.O.D. Music's weekly-EP gimmick was basically a neat excuse to fuck around and call it art. But as a compression device, the seven-song limit was perfect for framing and accentuating its CEO's narrow strengths in an opener the series never got near to topping. Pusha's verbal pride is a formal passion that rejects both excess and half measures as he enunciates every syllable in his impassive, sibilant flow, and no objective observer would deny how skilled he is at narrativizing the cocaine hustle. But where 45 minutes of his unflinching tales wear ordinary humans out, the EP format compels him to hone every line, as in, oh: "If you ain't energized like the bunny for drug money / Or been paralyzed by the sight of a drug mummy / This ain't really for you, this for the Goya Montoya / Who said I couldn't stop, then afforded me all the lawyers." It also helps that the label owner provides the hardest and simplest beats he's stooped to in years. And that Pusha hates Drake so much he compares him to Trump. A