Pusha T – “If You Know You Know”

Pusha T‘s DAYTONA is one of my most played albums of 2018 and it’s NOT because it’s 25 minutes long.

Well, it helps though.

One half of former duo of Clipse, Push has built a hell of a legacy for his cocaine raps. A lot of cocaine raps. He honestly deserves some kind of lifetime achievement award for how much white he’s trafficked lyrically, and somehow it never gets boring to hear about. After the dissolution of Clipse, Pusha embarked on an impressive–and somewhat uneven–career, with some incredible highs and some occasional filler which tends to bog down his records. Following 2015’s Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude, a stopover in the leadup to his magnum opus King Push, Pusha went into seclusion, and rap fans were fiending for what he had next.

This year Push made one hell of a comeback. King Push was no more, instead listeners were treated to DAYTONA, a Kanye-produced seven-song “album” (LP? EP? People are still arguing now) with a cover depicting Whitney Houston’s drug-happy bathroom. The record was the first hit from Ye’s camp in a wild month which would have Ye releasing a new solo record, a collab with Kid Cudi, and records from Nas and Teyana Taylor, from his base in Wyoming. May was an interesting month, to say the least, and DAYTONA stands tall as the best from those sessions.

DAYTONA is awesome. The production is evocative, aggressive, and haunting, a reminder that Ye can still engineer brilliance. Lyrically, Pusha is on one million, coming across as a hustler, kingpin, and playboy, often all within a bar. He’s calculating and menacing, looming over all and making you shiver when he hits that “YEUGH!” (the sound junkies make when they get a taste of his stuff). But he’s also defiant, jubilant, and charismatic. When Push is on his bullshit you can’t help but cheer him on.

Another big strength of Daytona is its brevity. At 7 tracks it’s absolutely airtight, with no filler, no weak tracks, and a great pacing. It’s like a hit, a super high which doesn’t last long and leaves you wanting more.

“If You Know You Know” is a victory lap, demonstrating that Pusha T is the king at what he does. He’s survived the game, won, and right now he is FLEXING. The beat is glorious, with the thunderous bass and the chopped up vocal sample. Sublime! This is the mood I need to be on going into 2019.