You probably know Pusha T from his time in Clipse. You may know Pusha T from his work on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Maybe from his verses sprinkled about on Cruel Summer. But Pusha T’s formal solo introduction to the mainstream of hip-hop comes in the form of the edgy, no-frills My Name Is My Name – an often gritty detailing of Pusha’s past told through metaphors and full-frontal storytelling.
The pacing of My Name Is My Name finds a home in slightly upbeat, mid-tempo grinders that aren’t sluggish but don’t necessarily push the energy in a club-ready sense. Right from the opener “King Push”, the vibe of this record feels raw but accessible in a sense that the record doesn’t feel overly glossy in an attempt to match Pusha’s very forthcoming storytelling. “Numbers on the Boards”, “Suicide” and “Nosetalgia” follow a similar sonic trend, laying a well-formulated foundation for such tales of hustling and the like. While Pusha’s lyricism can certainly stand up well on its own, the choppy, often brash beats help make this album even more memorable and immediately enjoyable from first listen. Yet, the album doesn’t keep to that feel from front to back – the piano-laced “Hold On” is just as lyrically pushing and topically sharp as Pusha and Rick Ross trade verses in a moving, but still engaging number.
One thing that does hold this album back a bit, and perhaps it is more of a preference than a true criticism, is that the slathering of guests on the record don’t always hold up their end of the bargain in keeping the tone and delivery of the record level. In expected fashion, Ross and Kendrick Lamar do a more than respectable job on their respective slots on “Nosetalgia” and “Hold On”, but the same cannot be said for the almost out-of-character addition of Chris Brown on “Sweet Serenade”. Similarly, 2 Chainz‘ inclusion on “Who I Am” brings a strange and foreign energy to the track that just doesn’t meld quite the same as other tracks.
But as far as a cohesive album, Pusha T makes a more than memorable debut on My Name Is My Name. Rapping with both personality and passion, Pusha’s lines do enough on both a technical and poetic level to be enjoyable to the tuned-in rapheads on “Nosetalgia” without sounding completely isolated from the casual rap fan on tracks like “No Regrets”. But through a variety of timbres and beats, Pusha T forms a better-than-average start to his solo discography – easily making it one of the better rap albums to grace the year of 2013.