For years, it seemed Pusha T‘s solo project My Name is My Name was going to be placed in the same category as Dr. Dre‘s Detox-music purgatory. After signing with G.O.O.D. Music, dropping a string of mixtapes (Fear of God, Wrath of Caine, and Fear of God II: Let Us Pray) , and being featured on multiple chart-topping tracks, the VA-native took the indie-route to reintroduce himself to music fans. A series of delays soon followed for the solo project. Not accompanied by his brother, No Malice, or backed by solely Neptunes‘ production, his flow had changed from the energetic rapper to the more calm, seasoned emcee.
With My Name is My Name, listeners get a solo album that is a well thought out piece of art. At first glance, the loaded top-named features of The-Dream, Rick Ross, Kelly Rowland, Jeezy, Kendrick Lamar and 2 Chainz stick out the most but not in a good way. The over-abundance of other A-list rappers and producers throughout the 12-track work is usually a sign that the main artists’ voice is drowned out for mainstream appeal. Fortunately with this debut, Pusha’s bars and delivery are still the focal point.
Drawing from his own experiences and referencing his past run-ins with the coke game, Pusha uses real-life as his muse throughout the album. Tracks like the Kanye West and Sebastian Sartor mixed “King Push” and “Suicide” featuring Ab-Liva, he spits some braggadocio about trapping but the delivery is believable and raw. His voice of pride and flossing soon changes as the album progresses.
‘Numbers On The Board” he opens up and becomes more vulnerable to the real-life effects of the hustle. He describes the dope game as a ‘double-edge sword’ and alludes that his current profession is a means of therapy to deal with the things that he has seen. A cautionary tale whose bravado is emphasized by the solo rap over the Don Cannon, 88-keys, and Kanye West beat. The melancholy “40 Acres” featuring The-Dream finds the emcee spitting about the chasing of wealth. The Kendrick Lamar assisted track “Nosetalgia” also touches on the dual nature of success and regret- Lamar playing the young voice watching his family becomes addicted to the vice Pusha is dealing.
The album begins to lost momentum and many of the deeper appeal towards the middle. As the more assisted tracks begin to play, it is clear that these few are for radio-play/shallow element of the album. The lead single “Sweet Serenade” featuring Chris Brown adds the pop element. The-Dream and Glass Don produced “Let Me Love You” is a light R&B tune assisted by Kelly Rowland‘s catchy hook. Although cute, the simplicity of the track makes it a forgettable listen if you are not a love-struck teen.
The late Rick James wasn’t lying when he said that cocaine was a hell of a drug. Pusha is his strongest when speaking on dope and, ironically, with Kanye West and Pharrell production. Though there are some strays from the message of gain and regret and moving to the reaching the top of the rap game, My Name is My Name still finds the rapper keeping a consistent flow about his experience while exploring a more multidimensional sound and flow. Every track sounds thought-out and executed well. Each feature is utilized for their strong points but do not overpower the main artist. Pusha is delivering both an album for hard-core rap fans with his raw flow but still squeezes in some subtle pop tracks for mainstream appeal. Regardless of missing a No Malice feature and the sombre delivery, it is clear that the 36 year-old rapper is determined and has the lyrical skill to do so.