Pusha T on the Grammy Committee: "They Can't Deny Good Hip-Hop Anymore"

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Clipse's Pusha T raps a lot about drug dealing and the spoils that go with it. (His name is Pusha, after all.) You no doubt know that by now. It's why Pusha Ton is naming his upcoming album My Name Is My Name. But before that shipment arrives he's doling out samples in the form of his mixtape Wrath Of Caine. With two albums and two Grammy nods (Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance) for his assistance on "Mercy," 2013 is shaping to have big things in store for Pusha. We caught up with "Young Black Socrates" about the titles of his new albums, how social media has changed the way we listen to music and his favorite rapper. Cry now, motherfuckers.

See Also:
-Review: Kanye's Sex Tape G.O.O.D. Music, Cruel Summer
-Pusha T Presents: A Clipse Guide to New York
-Live: Pusha T And Ryan Leslie Win Some And Lose Some


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The Top 5.33 Hip-Hop Songs Of The Week

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The "b word" has been a staple of hip-hop for decades, although there's some linguistic shading as far as its use: women that aren't particularly awesome are called "bitches"; really awesome women are "bad bitches"; respected dignitaries like moms are "ladies" and "females"—unless they're the mother of a foe, in which case they're back to being a a "bitch." (Got it?)

In the last few months, though, a few MCs have begun to question if using such a term is the best way to go about things. Lupe Fiasco's "Bad Bitch" shook up the hip-hop world with its analysis of negative portrayals of women in the black community; this prompted Kanye West to contemplate his own use of the word on Twitter over the weekend.

This fraught relationship is evident in the six songs listed below: We have collaborations between men and women, the grimiest song about stripper sex, and a track from a few MCs that have catalogues full of music praising women in their lives. There is also a Shyne song.

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Q&A: Pusha T On Working With Tyler, The Creator, His Neptunes Bias, And The Virginia Melting Pot

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Kanye West's favorite Clipse brother, Pusha T, drops his new EP Fear of God: Let Us Pray today. Released on 'Ye's GOOD Music label, the project includes collaborations with Tyler, The Creator, Young Jeezy and Diddy, as well as the label boss himself on "Amen." In the run-up to the EP's release, Pusha T took a timeout from shoveling down some Chinese chow at a Midtown spot to trace the links between the Odd Future and No Limit movements, recall his days playing shows for local drug dealers around the country, and explain why he might not be that keen to work with Large Professor these days, despite "Looking At The Front Door" being his favorite song of all time.

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Live: Kanye West's Big And Loud And Secret Show


Kanye West w/Pusha T, CyHi Da Prince, Mr. Hudson, Big Sean, and Kid Cudi
Skylight One Hanson
Thursday, June 9

Better than: Not being let in.

Thunder shook Brooklyn, drops of rain fell, and over a thousand people took refuge in Skylight One Hanson, inside the old Williamsburg Savings Bank, for a much whispered-about Kanye West show. We were the chosen ones. If the world was going to end, at least we would be safe behind a velvet rope.

Every recent Kanye concert in New York has been an exercise in power and validation. There was last summer's early-hours secret show at The Box, last November's hundred-dollar VIP scramble at the Bowery Ballroom, and now this. Details, few and far between, had been saved for but a few "influencers." Couldn't get a ticket? You probably didn't deserve one.


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Live: Pusha T And Ryan Leslie Win Some And Lose Some


FlashFWD Awards featuring Pusha T and Ryan Leslie
Gramercy Theater
June 8, 2011

Better than: Watching two sets by Ryan Leslie.

An award show wouldn't be an award show without winners and losers, speeches that run for too long, fashion mistakes and surprises. The FlashFWD Awards, a night of Internet self-celebration, had some of those things. But who won and who lost during the music that immediately followed?

The big winners tonight were the members of Pusha T's band. Most backing bands of rappers don't know how to perform hip-hop songs. (There's a reason that no one talks about when Jay-Z and Linkin Park teamed up.) These guys, though, were tight and beefy like a Hanes tee, enhancing Pusha's sound, scratching up "Grindin" on the turntables and giving "My God" a proper synth treatment. At one point an audible was called, and at Pusha's suggestion, the band tore through an unrehearsed version of "Feeling Myself," somehow making the ladies' joint from Fear of God pretty listenable! The best was when they threw percussion claps and snaps on "Popeyes." It was as if Pharrell had produced the 2010 song during his seven-years-ago heyday.


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Live: Rick Ross Lives Out His Dreams At Summer Jam

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Hot 97 Summer Jam
New Meadowlands Stadium
Sunday, June 5

Better than: Sitting at home and moping like 50 Cent.

Rick Ross closed out Summer Jam.

Just so there's no revisionist history here, let's remember how incredible that statement is. Three years ago, Ross was the punching bag of hip-hop, the laughingstock of the streets. After recording countless verses that fetishized Tony Montana fantasies, someone pinched him—Ross' cartoonish thought bubble vanished into thin air, and he was rudely snapped back to reality. He wasn't a druglord superhero; he was William Roberts, a grown man playing dress-up, a former correctional officer who wanted to be a rapper so badly that he rewrote his personal history. Two years ago, he wasn't being played on New York radio.

And here, onstage at Giants Stadium, was Rick Ross—his chest puffed out, his black-and-yellow Hawaiian shirt open wide but still somehow stretching tight—cheered on by fifty thousand strong. They welcomed his street anthem, "B.M.F.," chanting a chorus and cadence that, in various incarnations, has blasted out of car windows on 125th ever since it came out last summer: "I think I'm Big Meech, Larry Hoover." Rick Ross can make up a lot of things, but even he couldn't make this up.

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Live: Bamboozle Stimulates Every Sense (And Then Some)

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So much to see, everywhere.
The Bamboozle
Meadowlands
Friday, April 29-Sunday, May 1

Better than: Watching scene reports scroll by on Twitter.

In a lot of ways, the Bamboozle is a festival tailor-made for the current moment of constant distraction. The festival's running time over three days totals approximately 27 hours. There are eight stages of music, plus a stage for spoken-word and comedy bits. The 100-plus acts run the gamut, from critically approved hip-hop to critically reviled screamo to nostalgia-pricking acts from rock eras past. There's a wrestling ring where luchadores--led by the not very subtly named Dirty Sanchez--fling each other around; if that doesn't satiate your urge to watch competition, there's a breakdancing stage. There are carnival rides. There are tons of merch booths, some of which host autograph signings that attract long, snaking lines of eager fans. There's a psychic, an inflatable structure where one can procure free Trojans, and a place to charge your phone so you can keep up with the tweeting that details all the things you're missing. If you play your cards right and bring enough friends, it's quite possible to get a "full" Bamboozle experience without consciously hearing a single song in its entirety.

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Q&A: Pusha T: "Instant Gratification Versus Slow Grind? I'll Take The Former."

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90% of his friends are behind bars. His oldest brother is a recovering drug addict. His other brother has long since repented. All that and Pusha still wants to, well, push. "That's what happens when you Michael and they treat you like Tito," he raps on the hook for "I Still Wanna." For the first time in his life, Pusha (Terence Thornton) is not following in his brother Malice's footsteps and distancing himself from the coke raps that the Clipse brand was built on. There are claims that new Clipse material is on the way, but for now, Pusha is flying solo dolo.

We caught up with Pusha T at his local barbershop, right before he left for Miami to shoot a video for his version of Jay-Z's hustler anthem "Can I Live" (it appears on his mixtape Fear Of God), Push had plenty to say about detractors wanting him back on a strict diet of Neptune beats, his Bronx roots, and his relationship with his older brother. Gather 'round.

Your mixtape was so highly anticipated and managed to keep from disappointing the fans. At least most of them. How do you feel about people saying you should stick to spitting on Neptune beats and off of Jay's classics?
I think those people are super corny. I should just stick to Neptune beats?! I feel like people who say things like that show say that don't know the art of mixtapes. Jay was rapping over "The Symphony," B.I.G. was rapping over Death Row beats... that's the essence of a mixtape. I wanted songs that were inspirational to me over the years. I come from the Clue and Doo Wop era. Buying mixtapes in Norfolk and shit. If you can't feel that then it's not for you, sir.


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Download Fear of God, the New Mixtape From the Clipse's Pusha T

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One of the happiest of the many stories to get lost in the maelstrom that was Kanye West's 2010 was the rehabilitation of Pusha T, perhaps the single most critically beloved and commercially unsuccessful rapper of the last five years. The Clipse, his duo with his brother Malice, had sat on the shelf for four long years following the release of 2002's Lord Willin', scrapping at least one putative album and releasing several furious mixtapes in the process; when Hell Hath No Fury finally came out, it was hailed as a masterpiece...then sold all of 36,000 copies its first week out. 2009's Til the Casket Dropped was a disappointment, as were the mixtapes that bracketed it--after years of fighting an industry that couldn't figure out a way to make them stars, it seemed like these once vital rappers had lost both their will to struggle and their creative spark. Until, that is, Kanye scooped Pusha up last year, putting him on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy's finest single, "Runaway," and signing him to his G.O.O.D. Music imprint (and, among other things, bringing him to last week's SXSW). Pusha responded by promptly returning to making great music, or something close to it; listen to the vintage-sounding Pharrell production "Raid," with 50 Cent, for instance:

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Zach Baron's Top 10 Singles of 2010

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Rich aliens, rich alienation. Still via connect.in.com
With sincere apologies to Chuck Eddy, my two favorite records of the year also produced my two favorite singles: funny how that happens. And though ten songs increasingly feels like about forty too few, especially when Dr. Luke is working, nothing was knocking "Runaway" off this list. What can I say? Been waiting fifteen years for rap to get this emo and for emo to get this rap. As for the rest of it, well, as Sean Fennessey noted in this space last week, most of these songs are ignorant as hell. The rest are about love. I'm not proud:

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