My first concert of 2016 is Pusha T, and it’s happening tomorrow night.
How stoked am I? Well, I bought the damn ticket last year, so you know I’ve BEEN ready for this.
But let me back up a bit.
King Push is one of hip-hop’s most celebrated, known quite well for his audio coke. He’s built one hell of a career over the last decade for his drug raps, presenting himself as a modern American success story who rose from being a corner boy on the roughest streets of Virginia Beach, VA to being an untouchable don with all of his 1%’er-only material items paid for by trafficking the white. Think Tony Montana, ‘cept he lived at the end. Pusha is a solo act nowadays, but back in the early 2000s he hit the scene as one-half of the group Clipse with his brother Malice (now No Malice as he only hustles for the Lord, last I heard), pushing packs hard and carrying a unique and bouncy sound supplied by The Neptunes, one of the most influential production teams of the day. In 2002, Clipse dropped their debut Lord Willin’, which had a smash hit (and still a banger today) in “Grindin’,” and established themselves as a group to watch, with fans looking for the next hit.
Unfortunately, it took about four years.
Label politics. Gotta love it, right? The duo got held up as their label Jive Records folded, and when they re-emerged in 2006 with Hell Hath No Fury…they were pretty jaded, cynical, and angry. And their music was harsher, harder, and all the better for it.
Hell Hath No Fury is great at what it is: Talking about the highs and lows of drug trafficking, staying alive, staying outside the bars, and getting yours, and by this point in the game the two emcees sounded like they’ve been through a few lifetimes of it. The record was acclaimed for its narratives and gritty feel, and for me, it was the introduction to the duo. This listen in particular remains a favorite.
Over a dramatic beat which sounds just perfect for a montage of scenes of drug deals, schemes, and big payoffs, Push and Malice go in with striking narratives about putting out the best product and staying one step ahead of enemies, haters, and the DEA. There are are some really evocative lines on this listen (like that “diet coke” bit which is funny til you remember the victims, or the bit about the jealous neighbors, or “the judge is screaming ‘life’ like it ain’t someone’s life…”), and the track sounds almost positive and encouraging, especially with the emcees urging listeners to get theirs. It’s dizzy, crushing, and inspiring at the same time. Damn.