Pusha T’s latest mixtape, “Wrath of Caine” was recently reviewed in The New York Times.
“Drug-dealer Piacassos” is what Pusha T calls his songs in “Only You Can Tell It,” from his excellent new mixtape, “Wrath of Caine,” but that’s not quite right. Unlike Picasso, who was evasive and full of dark whimsy, Pusha T is a hard-nosed literalist. Maybe he’s Jacques-Louis David. Maybe he’s Gustave Courbet. Maybe he’s Weegee.
He’s been this way for more than a decade, first as one half of Clipse, the acclaimed duo he formed with Malice, his brother, and lately as a solo artist on Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music imprint, though, to be fair, less so there. Early Clipse recordings, particularly the first two volumes of the “We Got It 4 Cheap” mixtape series, rendered the logistical and emotional minutiae of the drug-dealer life with military precision. They were harrowing, chest-puffing records.
At times it has seemed as if Pusha T has been too comfortable riding shotgun with Mr. West; the serrated edge that often marked his voice was smoothed over, the subject matter diluted. But he’s had a couple of great moments in recent years: a staggering verse on Mr. West’s “Runaway” and also a sly turn on the remix of Chief Keef’s “I Don’t Like.”
And “Wrath of Caine” is Pusha T coming full circle, a stark and aggressive album that’s his best work in years. He sounds sharp and determined, a technician who has rediscovered his gifts, in part by rediscovering his muse. That would be the wages of the drug game, which he has few peers in capturing.
This is a controlled album that, in its way, is as rowdy as Waka Flocka Flame’s 2010 debut, “Flockaveli,” the high-water mark for recent hip-hop aggression. (There’s also a surprising amount of reggae on “Wrath of Caine,” from the hook of “Blocka” to the vocal interludes by a mouthy Jamaican woman, adding to the album’s rough 1990s sheen.) The production is overwhelming: menacing pianos and booming horns on “Millions,” staggering keys on “Revolution,” smooth early-Kanye-esque gospel-soul on “I Am Forgiven.”
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Download Pusha T’s new single “Millions” featuring Rick Ross on iTunes Now!
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“Wrath of Caine” Mixtape Available Now on Livemixtapes.com
“My Name Is My Name” Album Coming Soon.