Pusha T - "DAYTONA" Album Review

Pusha T - "DAYTONA" Album Review

“I feel like DAYTONA represents how I really feel, and it really represents the whole process of this album. The name comes from having the luxury of time… it says a lot about the luxury of time I have as an artist.” This was the answer Pusha T provided to Genius' Rob Markman when asked of the name change to his third solo effort so close to its release. 

In many ways, this quote says a lot about this record; Pusha T has not had the luxury of time for too long in his career. Throughout most of his it, he’s dealt with record label pressure for pop hits and album delays. This was a time, as most fans know, during his ascent into the Rap world - along with his older brother - as the legendary duo of the Clipse. 

Fans of Clipse - and by proxy Pusha - will then be very aware of his drug-dealing past because, quite frankly, Pusha T won’t let anyone forget about it. This is more than apparent on the album’s opener, “If You Know You Know” where King Push flaunts his come up, exuding a verbal victory lap around the place he’s in today by using the substantives and verbiage of yesterday. This track is drug-heavy but sounds triumphant instead of the expected grit. The vocal samples that accompany most of the beat are so catchy that one can’t imagine the song without it. 

“The Games We Play” follows a similar thematic structure to “If You Know You Know” with more drug raps and braggadocio accompanied by some luxurious horns and quivering guitars that complement Pusha T’s assertiveness: “To all my young niggas, I am your Ghost and your Rae/This is my Purple Tape, save up for rainy days”. This track just feels real, the flaunts feel deserved and the hook and verses blend seamlessly to make this a compact but aggressive head-nodder. 

Speaking of head-nodders, the maestro behind this project, Kanye West, guest stars on “What Would Meet Do?” finds him hilariously reciting some of his more recent “bars”, then goes into a diatribe of the public’s perception of him in what becomes a very entertaining verse. Pusha flexes some Hell Hath No Fury flows here too and it becomes another cut on here where Pusha T and Kanye West bring the best out of each other.

“Hard Piano ” builds from a another good verse from Pusha and exceptional hook from The World Famous Tony Williams to a subpar Rick Ross verse with dynamism in neither its flow nor its content, while “Come Back Baby” picks the quality right back up with more excellent Pusha T verses over some excellent George Jackson samples.

“Santeria”, a highlight in an album full of them speaks of the murder of his former road manager De’Von Pickett over some eerie electric guitars and 070 Shake’s hook - the best one of DAYTONA - drive home the sense of loss, loneliness, and anguish of this song. “Santeria” goes from eerie to dark in a phenomenal transition to a heavy, brooding beat whose only detraction is that the beat could have stayed on for about four more bars for Pusha to truly exhaust it and get everything from it and out of him.

Nevertheless, Pusha’s performance is astounding as he speaks to God, then – in a way reminiscent of Hov’s “Regrets”, speaks to his deceased friend’s spirit. It’s musical Santeria and Pusha’s last bars are filled with a resounding veracity: “No jail bars can save/Leave you like Malcolm where X marks your grave/Hey, it’s probably better this way/It’s cheaper when the chaplain prays”.

The beat of “Infrared” takes a backseat as the final track serves to have Pusha deliver his message with minimal distractions, briefly borrowing flows and lyrics from JAY Z’s “The Prelude” to fire shots at Drake for not writing his lyrics. The attack certainly was clearly child’s play compared to what has come afterward but works as a decent album closer. It certainly could’ve been heftier, could’ve had more urgency to finality, but it works all the same to end a short, but full album by Pusha T.

Pusha T’s biggest criticism was his never-changing affinity for rapping about drugs and drug dealing. That doesn’t change here and he finds even more ways to incorporate his two lives on DAYTONA. But while this may be a repetitive subject matter to some, what makes Pusha so great is his ability to blend coke Rap with the luxuries and loss his hustle has granted him.

In an era of Rap where it’s inundated with ninety-minute albums for the sake of boosting album sales, Pusha T and Kanye West decide to forsake that trend and take a hard left. It’s funny that the record that Pusha T crafted with the “luxury of time” happens to be his shortest, but also his most fit and compact. They say that the eyes are the window to the soul - DAYTONA manages to say a lot more with a glimpse than what other albums do with a stare.  

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