A month ago Kanye West drank a bottle of Grey Goose and said Pusha T was "the heart of rap's motherfucking culture." Kanye was not sober. But in a way, he was right. Pusha has been called the last of the gangster rappers—a guy who claims to have made money pushing drugs even when Clipse was popular—and his latest album is a collection of dealer fairy tales that carry on the tradition of the coke-hustler to rap-hustler story pioneered by Biggie and Jay-Z. (Which is all but gone from rap at this point.) Even the physical album exists as a clever commentary on that theme. It's all white like a kilo, save for a barcode on the back, providing evidence that Pusha, as he says in "No Regrets" can now "sell hope/what, you rather I sell dope?/What I sell is a lifestyle/naked bitches on sailboats.”
But Pusha has always been more than just a guy with coke songs. His shit with Clipse expanded the possiblities of lyrical rap; his production work with the Neptunes changed the way rap can sound. My Name is My Name contains some of the most challenging beats you'll hear on a record this year ("Numbers on the Boards," "Pain"). And now that he's signed by GOOD Music—a surprising relationship from the start—you can see how the 36-year-old Pusha really can bridge the gap between where rap has been and where it's going. (Here's what he told Noisey yesterday about his place in that movement: "I like that the young rappers are playing by the old school rules of lyricism and cleverness and storytelling and inflections and things like that. I see the cycle coming back to lyricism, where it hasn’t been for a long time. I see how hip-hop is still influencing what’s going on in popular culture, still today.")
Which is all a long-winded way of saying that the slew of videos Pusha is releasing to hype his record—stark, menacing, creatively simple yet interesting—show a guy who touches all parts of the genre in 2013, from the art world shoutouts to the hustler past. It's pretty awesome to see.