Review: Rapper Pusha-T releases arguably perfect hip-hop album ‘Daytona’

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Story by Isong Maro / Contributing Writer

Pusha-T, a Virginia rapper and one half of former rap duo Clipse, has released his third studio album, “Daytona.” Push, who is also the current president of Kanye West’s record label, G.O.O.D. Music, had been teasing his third album for three years following his last release, “King Push — Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude,” in 2015.

This new album was originally titled “King Push” but was later renamed “Daytona” days before its release. This name change, according to Push, resulted from him feeling that the new title was a more accurate description of the album and having the luxury of time to create it. The album’s cover art is a photo of Whitney Houston’s bathroom at the time of her death.

“Daytona”  is seven tracks long, and each track is produced by Kanye West, who has a guest spot on the song “What Would Meek Do?.” Artist Rick Ross is featured on the song “Hard Piano,” which contains uncredited vocals from Tony Williams. G.O.O.D. Music signee 070 Shake also has uncredited vocals on the song “Santeria.”

The album opens up with the song “If You Know You Know,” a synth-laced track with a simple yet effective, laid-back drum pattern that drives the song. The drum pattern is reminiscent of the drums on some of Push’s earlier work with Clipse. On the track, Push serves up an introduction of sorts into the album’s subject matter, alluding to his pedigree and knowledge on “drug dealer culture.” He asks, “Where were you when Big Meech brought the tigers in?,”alluding to an infamous story of when ‘80s Detroit Kingpin Big Meech had a party in which he brought in exotic wild animals. The song’s title is also a common phrase used in West African countries to suggest that knowledge isn’t necessarily gifted to all. Instead, it is only bestowed to a select few.

On the second song, “The Games We Play,” Push declares who he feels his audience is and, by extension, who this album is for, rhyming, “This ain’t for the conscious, this is for the mud-made monsters.” He suggests this is a project for fans of darker-themed hip-hop. The track “Santeria” is an ode to a fallen friend of Push who was murdered. Sonically, the track is a roller coaster of a masterpiece, featuring beat switches, a sharp drum break and an amazing vocal refrain sung in Spanish from 070 Shake. The album closes with the track “Infrared,” where Push addresses a range of topics including ghostwriting in hip-hop and rap legend Lil’ Wayne’s current label issues, all over a haunting beat.

This album is a body of work that speaks to a culture fascinated with drug-dealing and the possible ill-gotten wealth that abounds. It alludes to the ins and outs of the lifestyle, simultaneously glorifying it and serving as a warning against it, much like Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather” or Armitage Trail’s “Scarface.” This album is essentially a soundtrack to that life and, by the original hip-hop standards, is quite possibly the perfect hip-hop album.

The pairing of Pusha-T’s brilliant lyrics and Kanye West’s sample-based hip-hop production makes for the type of super-group result that one would expect from a collaboration between hip-hop minds at the highest of levels. This is, however, an album that may be appreciated more by the older hip-hop generation. In the words of radio personality Charlamagne Tha God, this album is “adult contemporary trap music.”

To contact Lifestyles Editor Sydney Wagner, email

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