Pusha-T – Daytona
Pusha-T first announced that his third album would be called King Push back in 2015, when he released his sophomore effort King Push—Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude as a prelude to King Push. Since then, the album has become somewhat of a hip-hop myth, not unlike Detox and Jay Electronica’s album. Pusha’s long-awaited third album, now titled Daytona, has arrived, and the King Push myth seems to be further elevated with its release. Is Daytona just King Push under a different name? Or is King Push just scrapped and Daytona is the result of Kanye West’s epic vacation in Wyoming? Whatever the background is, Daytona is Pusha’s best work as a solo artist. At a short, concise 7 tracks and 21 minutes, Daytona allows no room for filler or bloat, rather allowing each track to flow seamlessly into one another and for Pusha to exercise his greatest skills; flashy, raw braggadocio and drug raps. The production—done entirely by Kanye—is flawless and compliments Pusha’s flair perfectly, mixing Kanye’s signature soul chops with his newly adapted industrial sound to create an entirely new lane for Kanye, grimy and steely, but also smooth and seamless.
Daytona finds Pusha the most focused since his days as one half of Clipse, utlizing a newfound creative freedom to weave his worn-out brand of coke rap into new heights. He’s been rapping about pushing drugs, fine luxury brands and high superiority ever since he started out in the early 2000s alongside his brother Malice, but not since the glorious Hell Hath No Fury has he sounded so assured and levelheaded about it. Pusha circles his way around detractors and the drug world with a cold sensibility, the sound of a re-energized veteran working old magic again. “If You Know You Know” continues Pusha’s streak of grand opening tracks found on his last two albums, utilizing Kanye’s epic production to reassure dominance, while “Santeria” finds him rapping with a fury so remarkable that it could induce whiplash. Sure, the subject matter might be a little worn out, but on Daytona, it’s not what he’s saying that’s important; it’s how he’s saying it.
Daytona is the first of five upcoming albums produced entirely by Kanye, and if Daytona is any indication, then it can be assured that Kanye has entered a new era. His work here besides the fantastic production is also remarkable; he spent $85,000 to make the cover art a picture of Whitney Houston’s bathroom after overdosing, and his guest spot on “What Would Meek Do?” sheds new light on his controversial views as of late. But out of all the things Kanye has done with Daytona, it’s his chemistry with Pusha that stands out the most. The production blends in with and circles around Pusha’s flamboyant raps, making many twists and turns along the way, such as the juxtaposition between a soul sample and industrial bass on “Come Back Baby”, or the impeccable beat switch on “Santeria”. Every one of his contributions lives up to the chemistry between the two first built on 2010’s stunning “Runaway”.
But it’s not the Kanye contributions or the short length that will really get people talking about Daytona. Rather, it’s the venomous closing track “Infrared”, which takes shots at Drake and his longtime rival Lil Wayne. Opening with a neatly woven-in JAY Z quote, the track wastes little time before getting into it with Drake and Wayne. “It was written like Nas, but it came from Quentin” is one of the more clever lines of the year, and he also makes another jab at ghostwriters in general. But it’s Wayne and Birdman that the real shots are saved for. “Salute Ross ‘cause the message was pure/He see what I see when you see Wayne on tour/Flash without the fire/Another multi-platinum rapper trapped and can’t retire”, he raps, taking the side of Rick Ross (who appears earlier on “Hard Piano”) and his diss track “Idols Become Rivals”. No matter whose side one takes, the withering track is a perfect closer to an album that solidifies Pusha as an untouchable force, forever the king of the lane he has carved for himself.
Photo courtesy of Def Jam Recordings