While Kanye West is doing rap-as-performance-art, Jay-Z is now "the Mike Jordan of recording" (but when Jordan was taking the victory lap with the Wizards) and every other emcee is too busy waking up in new Bugattis to worry about lyrical content, Pusha T has quietly become one of the best pound-for-pound lyricists in the hip-hop scene right now. His talent has flown under the radar for years; starting with his brother No Malice as the duo Clipse, their album Hell Hath No Fury was praised with a "XXL" rating from XXL Magazine and placed highly on lists of huge industry publications like Pitchfork, Complex and Prefix Mag. With his debut album on Kanye West's G.O.O.D Music label My Name Is My Name due out later this summer and huge performances at Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival and The Boiler Room for New Era having just passed, we got a chance to catch up with him and talk studio sessions, working with Kanye, live performances and more.
BroBible: So I have it on good authority that you had Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival ROCKIN the other weekend. During your performance you told the crowd that you went to Hawaii to record My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy with Kanye West for a weekend, ended up staying out there for a month, came home, and immediately signed with G.O.O.D Music. What was your time out there like?
Pusha T: Oh man, well you know it was pretty wild for me. I mean, just imagine, I get a call from Rick Ross and he tells me to come to Hawaii. I’ve never been to Hawaii and he’s just like, “Come out here and be a part of Kanye West’s new album.” Kanye then gets on the phone and tells me, “There’s a lot of records out here; get on anything you like... just come get on the record.” So I fly out there and I was just supposed to stay for a weekend; I had no clothes, nothing major and I ended up staying for one month. It was just ridiculous man. I had my way with that whole album; I had the opportunity to be on any Kanye West record I wanted to be on. From my point of view, that’s one of his best albums production wise and so on and so forth; I was in a playland of beats.
Yeah, I can imagine it’s somewhat like being a kid in a candy store. You got on So Appalled with Swizz Beatz and....
Exactly, and yeah I got on So Appalled, I got on Runaway. I also tried to get on Lost In The World and I think there was a couple more I tried to get on. And ya know, during the day everyone would go and play basketball and eventually I just stopped playing basketball and I would just go and rap on every beat I loved.
Well I can kinda imagine you had a fairly healthy selection of beats to choose from. I can’t even imagine the stuff that was made out there that never even left the studio.
Oh man trust me it was crazy, we made a lot of good stuff out there.
Going back to Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival one more time for just a second, after finding out I was getting the chance to speak with you I went and watched the full live recording of your set. You do a lot of throwbacks in your set, you do a lot of stuff that you did with The Clipse...what are some of your favorite throwback jams your love to perform live? What do you find is one of your favorite things to perform live?
Oh man, old throwback Clipse stuff, Imma tell you what, Hell Hath No Fury is my FAVORITE album I’ve ever been on.
We can absolutely see why. Do you find that your live performance and the delivery in your live performance to be one of your biggest strengths as an artist or do you believe you have more value studio-wise or creatively/lyrically/sonically; like what do you find to be one of your biggest strengths?
I think my live performance is pretty good! Mainly because the energy is there and people can tell that I care about what I’m saying, like, I really try to articulate every word and get that sentiment across. For me, the energy is like when I see the crowd and how they react to what it is that I’m saying on an album or I write a line and I see the crowd member is about to rap that same line like, “Wow they must be thinking the same thing; I mean, we’ve been through the same thing”
You had the New Era #WEARYOURALLEGIANCE Event right after Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival sponsored by New Era with Schoolboy Q, can you tell us about that?
Yeah man, we had an incredible event at the Boiler Room in NYC, sponsored by New Era and it was a bunch of fans and passionate hip-hop artists in a hot-ass space just rockin out to some Pusha T music; it was a real good time.
New Era has a rich and storied history in sports and culture, along with enabling creative self-expression and collaboration. As part of the #WEARYOURALLEGIANCE campaign, New Era is partnering with Boiler Room to celebrate and showcase some of the best artists on the stage at a time when some of the best athletes are on the field.
Next month New Era will be giving fans a chance to showcase how they wear their allegiance across all its digital channels, along with chances to win prizes including, exclusive caps, apparel, discounts on products, tickets to events and their very own custom cap wall. For more info on the #WEARYOURALLEGIANCE campaign, check out New Era.