It seems like Pusha T has always stood at the fringes of greatness. His grisly flow and arresting narratives have garnered accolades from all four corners of the hip-hop strata. The only question is whether or not he has the fortitude to bring it all together for a solo project. From a lyrical standpoint My Name Is My Name hits on all cylinders, his wit and charm matched only by his unabashed warmongering. But there’s a disconnect.

In lieu of extended narratives – something he’s more than capable of – are a cavalcade of pointless collaborations. It diminishes the potency of his words, meaning we don’t ever get to see the real Pusha T. He leans heavily on those collaborations, which works most of the time, but not enough to make this a proper coming out party. It’s almost as if he’s relying on others to bridge the gap for him. It’s a solid effort, and one that deserves several rotations, but in the end it’s far too disjointed to be categorized as a standout debut.

King Push

So no Joaquin Phoenix after all, which is fine either way because the beat is overrated. From a lyrical standpoint, however, it sets a serious tone – one in which Pusha T emerges like a true champ. It’s what a solo effort should be for a greenhorn on the rise – brash and cocky and unapologetic in almost every way: [LISTEN]

"King Push"

Numbers on the Board

Pusha T is Kanye sans the excessive narcissism. The difference being Pusha T can squeeze more from his verses than ‘Ye can. The problem is that on a solo effort you want to stand on your own and paint with your own brush. Otherwise lines about leading dual lives get lost in comparisons: [LISTEN]

"Numbers on the Board"

Sweet Serenade

It’s amazing how Chirs Brown continues to find work he’s like the Kevin Costner of R&B. But seeing as how Pusha T is playing on words it makes sense. There’s no love lost, it’s about silencing competition the old fashion way, which is why gunshots sound so wonderful to him: [LISTEN]

"Sweet Serenade"

Hold On

There’s nothing wrong with big name guest collaborators like Rick Ross, but they shouldn’t outshine you on your own song. Maybe it’s solemn admiration that’s holding him back, but it definitely lacks the punch we’ve come to expect. He’s falling victim to one of the biggest no-no’s in the book, which is telling not showing: [LISTEN]

"Hold On"

Suicide

It takes less than two seconds for Pusha T to say something he’ll eventually regret for the rest of his life. Perhaps he can hide behind artistic integrity, but we’ve all heard stories of people burying themselves with their own words and rarely does it turn out well. Nevertheless a banger from beginning to end: [LISTEN]

"Suicide"

40 Acres

Pusha T is toying with greatness. He’s revealing tidbits of his former life and twisting the narratives in ways that make each line worth revisiting. The problem is that he becomes a victim of his own talent and tries to cram too much into one verse, some subjects need space to breathe: [LISTEN]

"40 Acres"

No Regrets

Of course there was going to be a “no regrets” song, every mainstream rap album of the past ten years has some variation of it. The question is where can Pusha T take it, and the answer unfortunately is nowhere new. The only thing he does manage to do is shout out his friends behind bars who may or may not feel the same way about the “no regrets” mantra: [LISTEN]

"No Regrets"

Let Me Love You

It’s criminal how much Pusha T sounds like Mase here – everything from the listless flow to the greasy subject matter. At this point there’s only been glimpses of the real Pusha T. The rest has been him emulating someone else, which at this point is beginning to expose a few weaknesses in his normally tight game: [LISTEN]

"Let Me Love You"

Who I Am

If this is who Pusha T is then he might be in for a rude awakening. He’s already viewed as a unique voice, but every chance he gets he curbs the thing that separates himself from every other rapper in the game. He’s overplaying the simple, materialistic side of success, and now that he has it what’s left?: [LISTEN]

"Who I Am"

Nosetalgia

Pusha T is dong himself a huge favor by dipping his pen in Kendrick Lamar‘s ink. Just the company alone inspires him to drop one stellar verse after another like an endless one-two combination. It’s a larger narrative with a thicker thread running down the middle, a detailed glimpse into his life as a dealer. A couple more of these on the album would have gone a long way: [LISTEN]

"Nosetalgia"

Pain

Pusha T is the  Kim Casali of rap, but instead of love it’s pain. He dedicates an entire song to laying down the hammer, which fortifies his legacy as an official street cat. These are remnants of a past life, however, and it’ll only sustain his career for so long: [LISTEN]

"Pain"

S.N.I.T.C.H.

For some odd reason Pusha T is surprised that one of his comrades in the drug game would rat him out. It’s a dog-eat-dog world and he’s been telling us that this whole time. This is him advocating the don’t snitch policy while at the same time realizing that he can never go back home: [LISTEN]

"S.N.I.T.C.H"