“Unpolished/Unapologetic” Pusha T raps on the opening bar of ’40 Acres’, and in doing so delivers a perfect summary of his album My Name Is My Name.
Following a series of remarks commenting on the similarities between My Name Is My Name and Kanye West’s Yeezus, Pusha has since spoken out on the differences between his mentor and himself, hopefully putting to bed what is essentially a very lazy comparison.
If Yeezus represented the tale of the modern-day rock star with nothing left to prove, then My Name Is My Name is the offering of a mere mortal, still striving to achieve the greatness his mentor so effortlessly claimed many moons ago.
My Name Is My Name tells the story of a street-soldier. It is not a revolutionary theme in a genre that has produced many rags-to-riches stories, but it must be noted that there is something different about this specific tale. Whilst it may at times tell gangster stories, this is not gangsta-rap, but rather a man refusing to ignore the past that made him who he is today. Above everything else, it appears to offer closure.
The album’s opening line serves as a powerful introduction as Push raps, “This is my time, this is my hour/This is my pain, this is my name, this is my power”, an unrepentant summary of his own past. Never has the vicious cycle surrounding the media’s obsession with rap’s violent roots been better exposed than in the third verse of ‘King Push’ as he highlights,“Vultures to my culture/Exploit the struggle, insult ya”. It’s a very self-aware lyric that is in some ways indefensible, as Pusha T concedes to give these “vultures” exactly that which they desire.
’40 Acres’ is easily the album’s strongest track and the power lies in its raw sound. “Troubled world, troubled child/Troubled times destroyed my smile” the chorus hauntingly echoes out before Push delivers arguably his best ever verse. “The dream ain’t die, only some real niggas/We was born to mothers who couldn’t deal with us/Left by fathers who wouldn’t build with us” he raps over the gothic beat, courtesy of Rico Beats and The-Dream.
In terms of production, ‘My Name Is My Name’ is in excellent hands. A roster including Kanye, No I.D., Swizz Beats and Pharrell provide Push with the perfect platform in which to deliver his drug-powered message. From the snare-heavy ‘King Push’ to the soulful ‘S.N.I.T.C.H.’, it must be said that My Name Is My Name has a very Kanye-esque sound to it and Ye’ even provides his infamous auto-tuned vocals where ‘Hold On’ is concerned.
My Name Is My Name is predictably feature-heavy and whilst this is often deplorable in many modern-day rap albums, Pusha T strikes a good balance between guests and self. Although Rick Ross offers a valuable contribution to ‘Hold On’, it is Kendrick who yet again steals the show with his verse on ‘Nosetalgia’. Whilst Push plays the role of dope-dealer, Kendrick depicts the story’s victim as he plays the modern day child of America’s crack culture. “Every verse is a brick” he rhymes, as you ponder whether or not alongside his narcotics analogy he might also have a literal point in regards to this particular album.
Running at just 12 tracks My Name Is My Name is short by rap standards, yet this works in its favour. It rarely feels tired (‘Sweet Serenade’ is the only weak track present) and in an age where albums feel overly long, you are left wanting more at the finale, which is perhaps the most complimentary comment any record can receive. Unpolished and unapologetic, and as far as this album goes, there could have been no other way.
My Name Is My Name is available now on iTunes. Check out the video for ‘Nosetalgia’ featuring Kendrick Lamar below.