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Albums of 2013 – 23. Pusha T – ‘My Name Is My Name’

My Name Is My Name is the best Kanye West record that Kanye West never made. If that feels like a disservice to Pusha T, one half of the critically acclaimed underground hip-hop duo Clipse, then it shouldn’t – Yeezy may have supplied some of the beats from his cutting room floor to his G.O.O.D. Music signee, but it’s still Pusha that reigns over his first studio album.

Like his mentor, he shares that contradictory combination of a blasé attitude with a blatant desire for success. On the rousing opener ‘King Push’ he makes a point of saying “I don’t sing hooks,” yet its the only song on the twelve-track album not to feature a guest appearance. Whether this reads as a lack of confidence is irrelevant, because My Name… is a strong statement, full of bite and unafraid to learn from yesteryear’s breakout hip-hop stars. ‘No Regrets’ and ‘Sweet Serenade’ are unassuming yet intelligent club tracks, while ‘Numbers on the Boards’ and ‘Nosetalgia’ breathe with old-school lyric-driven tradition.

For all it’s variety and guest features, My Name… is a cohesively executed effort, with each stylistic venture unified through razor sharp, minimal beats and subtle samples. Rap purists will surely appreciate Pusha’s come-up story (you could play bingo with the amount of crack dealing references on this record), and although that shouldn’t be a point, in a post-Kendrick Lamar rap landscape, it nevertheless is.

Indeed, it seems as though with this record Pusha T gets it both ways: at once he can claim the authenticity of a quote real rapper unquote whilst creating tracks that rework the Yeezus aesthetic for radio play. As such, what My Name… lacks in originality it makes up for in conscious knowledge of hip-hop’s past, present, and future.

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