Pusha T has long been a favorite MC of mine. Not only do I feel like he’s lyrically better than at least 75% of the Hip Hop population but I also feel the he is severely underrated. I’ve been a fan of all his material from the three Clipse albums, the three We Got It For Cheap mixtapes featuring his crew the Re-Up Gang, and now his solo work. When fans received the news that he was signing with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music Group the internet and blogosphere went wild. After the news came a slew of features during Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Friday music series and then his own solo mixtape Fear of God. Now it seems like Ziploc P has teamed up with Def Jam to release his debut album. But until then he blesses the fans with his EP distributed by Deacon Records, entitled Fear of God II: Let Us Pray. This new project features 12 tracks, which includes five tracks from the original mixtape and seven brand new ones. Looking at the track list I was slightly disappointed that a favorite of mine, Blow, wasn’t featured but was still excited about the EP. Here’s my track-by-track review of Pusha T’s Fear of God.
The Changing Of The Guards featuring Diddy – If you’re like me then you were kind of worried when you saw FEATURING DIDDY but luckily for us Mr. Combs only graces the song for 30 seconds with an introduction that really wasn’t needed. The track is base heavy and sounds excellent through headphones (mine are Beats so it sounds even better). This track sounds like it should be an opening to a gladiator movie, like walking thru the tunnel in the arena for the Super Bowl or Finals. We see Pusha much like we have in the past…no hook…just bars. With lines like “wish I could jailbreak my team like an iphone”, “I gave these lions heart like my name ended in Oz”, and the finisher “got gunshots going off that’ll awake the dead” Push sets the tone for the EP by reminding us of what made us like him to begin with.
Amen featuring Kanye West & Young Jeezy – This track leaked a while ago but I can’t help but think it was re-touched. This track also features a less than necessary spiel at the beginning but eventually leads to Kanye starting the song off with a pre-hook that most listeners (including myself) will probably wish had been the hook the entire time. This is another instrumental that really goes when in headphones. I applaud Pusha’s selection. Surprisingly Kanye, while having a solid verse, may have been out done simply by the energy of Pusha and the great pre-hook he had earlier. ….Oh yeah and Young Jeezy and his adlibs are on this too (I’m sorry I’m just not really a fan and this chorus sucks, IMHO).
Trouble On My Mind featuring Tyler, The Creator – This being one of the most unlikely of collabs fits perfectly and it may be the best track on the tape. The beat is hypnotizing and the hook, while really simple, is amazingly catchy. This is one of P’s less aggressive flows and shows the slightly darker side of his personality. Tyler appears on the second verse and absolutely kills it. He may have out spit Pusha which doesn’t happen all the time….or even most of time for that matter. My favorite lines from Tyler are “I wanna f—k the world but not a fan of using condoms” and “I’m f—king tighter then Chad Hugo’s pupils”. I was also amused at his mention of Mr. Lipshitz, the doctor constantly referenced by Mrs. Pickles on the cartoon Rugrats.
What Dreams Are Made Of – This song ALSO begins with a monologue-like intro this one coming in the form of a sound bite from a very braggadocios Rick Flair. The Nature Boy goes in on how much money he’s made before Pusha’s rough voice commands all fellow hustlers to bow their heads. This song is much more of the Pusha we’re used to seeing. The “Cocaine King” spits lines that are very similar to the white powder punch lines he is known for. His flow over this mixture with strong drums and distorted strings suits the theme of the song as he raps about wishing the government never found Jimmy Henchmen (the former G-Unit executive indicted on charges of heading a drug trafficking ring) and how Ronald Regan gave the streets crack cocaine while Nancy’s efforts to help were in vain. It is this “drug dealer sheik” that Pusha T and Clipse fans are used to and the string section in the background really help makes this song special.
Body Work featuring Juicy J, Meek Mill, & French Montana – This song leaked as well and probably was one of the biggest shocks from this tape. The song begins and the beat immediately gets you into one of those hype, jump up and down, throw up gang signs kind of mood. Juicy J starts off with a very expected verse but a surprisingly nice chorus. This may be because his voice and flow fit the track or more likely because you’re just too excited to care. Pusha is next on the mic and gives us a very solid verse although I’d like it better if he wasn’t constantly rhyming n—a with….n—a (just isn’t very creative). The standout on this track comes from the third verse provided by the Philadelphia spitter and Maybach Music signee Meek Mill. While copying Pusha’s flow and sadly rhyme scheme he manages to rap some very clever lines including a favorite of mine “these goons with me don’t spit no verses, just limo service…they stretch n—as”. French Montana finishes it off but…..yeah.
Everything That’s Glitters featuring French Montana – As with the first track on the tape you all gasping will find comfort in knowing that French is only on the hook. Surprisingly it’s not that bad either, although slightly off beat and auto-tuned it’s a decent hook and actually sounds nice with the background instrumentation. This track also uses strings (which I of course love) and combines it with a solid beat and some piano that helps reflect the message of the song. Pusha shows a little bit of his soft side, or as soft a side as a drug dealing, money spending, gangster can get, as he raps about snitches, losing women, and disloyal friends. This song seems to be Malice-inspired as it focuses deeply on self-reflection.
So Obvious – So Obvious is a song that’s title is a little confusing until you hear the track. After another, rather annoying introduction by the producer Bangladesh we see Pusha take full control over the track speaking of his influence over rappers and how he sees himself above others. He then goes into his chorus that explains that he just wants to “flip it, sell it” and how that fact is so obvious that you can smell the cocaine on him. This track is full of slick, witty lines from T. There is on in particular I like where he says “ [I] move heavy d…I should wop to it” referring to the Hip Hop legend and his famous dance. The “A Milli” sounding drums let you know this is a Bangladesh beat and Pusha absolutely shows out on this.
Feeling Myself featuring Kevin Cossom – This track and all tracks following are now ones chosen from the original mixtape Fear of God. This track is shows the rapper boasting about cliché topics but in a very sophisticated way. Spitting lines like “all this dirty money got me bathing in millions” and “in a perfect world, just my guns and my girl, we shine like diamonds and pearls” Pusha takes us into the life and a successful hustler once he’s out of the life. Kevin Cossom adds even more vanity to this track by singing over a bass heavy beat “I woke up and I might take off” and claiming that he’s “spending money like a rich white girl”. This isn’t one of my favorites (kind of wish he’d have used Blow instead) but I understand why this song is here and it’s still a solid entry.
Raid featuring 50 Cent & Pharrell – Anytime a Hip Hop Head sees “featuring Pharrell” we already know we’ll be hearing some Neptunes production and of course they come correct. The mix of dirty piano cords and heavy drums is mesmerizing, only to be accented by the voice and line of Pusha. This to me is one of the better tracks on the EP in terms of lyrics and wordplay. We hear the VA rapper asserting his dominance by proclaiming that he’s “only in the company of kings” and saying that “before Ye signed me I was getting out my dreams standing on the shoulders of 30,000 fiends” a clever usage of the acronym that is Mr. West’s label G.O.O.D. Music. Pharrell is next to join the track with catchy yet assertive chorus “It’s like Raid, spraying on you roaches. The AK is an animal it is ferocious. A n—a wanna sing, hope he is the dopest. Watch that n—a disappear, hocus pocus.” This track is special to Pusha because he got to work with one of his favorite rappers, 50 Cent. In his verse Fiddy talks about his evolution through what can be assumed as the drug game and has some rather clever lines like “ I’m a magnet to murder when I’m in the mood, get convicted do the forensics when you walk in my shoes” and “drop Phantom is milky… white on white”. I personally like this song. It fits well with Pusha’s brand of raw yet classy drug talk. This is “tailor-made drug dealer theme music” at its finest.
My God – This served as the first single from the original mixtape and also the cause of major controversy and animosity between himself and former G.O.O.D. Music label mate Consequence. Others may not agree with me but this sounds the most Pusha T of all these songs. The flow, the voice, the power behind the words reminds me of the flows he showcased on his last mixtape with brother Malice as the Clipse entitled Road to Till The Casket Drops more specifically the track Big Dreams. While I wish he had done a little more with the chorus this is without a doubt a standout track. The way he describes his life and ways of thinking really shows when he spits things like “we don’t mourn for the dead n—a, we pop bottles” and “only deal with divas on a need-to-know and what you need to know, is where you need to go”. The is pure, raw rapping from one of the best in my opinion.
I Still Wanna featuring Rick Ross & Ab Liva – I figured the lone track with a Re-Up Gang member would appear on the retail version as Pusha never forgets his team. This song is all about Pusha’s desire to still be a hustler and sell cocaine even though he’s now a successful artist. He claims that “it’s like an itch you can’t scratch”. Rick Ross provides a solid verse full of his, sure to be copyrighted by now, “whoo” adlib. I was very excited to hear what Liva was going to do as I had heard him on the three We Got It For Cheap mixtapes and he again gives us a really nice verse spitting clever lines like “Bell Biv DeVoe, push poison like a copperhead”. His smooth voice and flow goes well with the track. I enjoyed this song very much.
Alone In Vegas – This song was the closing for the mixtape version as well and was accompanied by a video and is probably the most emotional I’ve ever heard from Push. He really seems to be talking to his fans in this one when he raps “I let you into my diary to admire me. The makeup of this man, I let you see the higher me” and “rip me apart and see what’s inside of this piñata”. This chorus depicts many memories from Pusha’s life, describing a woman leaving him, thoughts of his old crew, and how he is all alone as he writes what we assume was this song “alone in Vegas”.
This EP is more for new fans than the OG Pusha T, Clipse ones. Though not as raw or aggressive or lyric-heavy as the Pusha we’ve seen in the past it is still a very solid piece of work that only gives fans, both old and new, more anticipation for the upcoming Def Jam debut, and the apparent Re-Up Gang mixtape Long Live The Caine. If I were to judge this I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5 (He would have gotten a 4 if Blow had been on it…but again I digress). Very nice Pusha and we look forward do what you got next for us. UGH!