Monday, October 22, 2012


The Virginia MC on his debut solo LP, working with Kanye, the controversy behind G.O.O.D. Music's "I Don't Like" remix, and the uncertain future of Clipse.
By Ryan Dombal , October 22, 2012 
Thanks to his ginned-up appearances on G.O.O.D. Music hits like "Mercy", "New God Flow", and the remix of Chief Keef's "I Don't Like", Pusha-T  is more visible right now than at any other time since Clipse  broke in with "Grindin'" 10 years ago. "I've never felt more like a rapper in my life," he says with a laugh, calling from his Virginia home a week before embarking on a brief European solo tour.. "I'm doing rapper shit: collaborating with motherfuckers left and right, going to listening sessions. I mean, I have rappers in my phone-- I've never had rappers in my phone." He'll try to parlay that momentum into his debut solo album for Def Jam, which is tentatively due out early next year and set to feature production from No I.D., Swizz Beatz, Rico Beatz, The-Dream, Pharrell, Young Chop, Travi$ Scott, and Kanye West, who's behind the witch-doctor instrumental for first single "Pain".

Pitchfork: As an artist who's been around for a decade, what's your mindset like getting ready to release your first solo record?Pusha-T: All of this is about timing and prepping the public. I feel like when people first heard my sound on G.O.O.D. Music, they were like, "Oh man, you need to drop an album now!" But I treated my progress like a totally new artist: I wanted to be on records, drop a mixtape, do virals, and go on the road for records that don't really have a true body of work to attach themselves to. I want people to delve into what the hell I'm doing, the purity of the rap. I wasn't going to be arrogant, like, "Man, y'all know me!" They don't. I mean, some people do, but a lot don't.

It's funny, my godson is 12, and when [the recent Tyler, the Creator collaboration] "Trouble On My Mind" came out, his friend said to him, "Tyler's with this new dude called Pusha-T-- and he got busy on that record!" It was the awakening of awakenings. Like, I am 10 years strong in this shit! But I am new. That's exactly why you must respect the game and give so much: records, freestyles, collaborations. You have to.

Pitchfork: While it makes perfect sense for a 12-year-old to not be familiar with your work, I'm not sure if other artists would have such a positive outlook if put in that same position.
PT: That's where ego comes into play. Like, why would I be frustrated that a 12-year-old doesn't know my dope boy chronicles from 10 years ago? Are you serious? What am I supposed to do, give him my discography and say, "Now you take that, go home, and study!"? He was only two when we first came out! I got a big fucking ego, but it ain't that big.

It ain't my job to be fucking out here, telling people what I've done, or acting like you should know what I've done. I should continue being good, and just let people say, "Wait a minute, Pusha is in my top five right now."

Pitchfork: Hearing your verses on songs like "Mercy" and "New God Flow", it sounds like you're hungrier than you've been in the last couple years. Did something happen to make you re-energize?

PT: No, man. It's about being around the creators that I'm around: Kanye West, fucking Big Sean, Common, numerous producers, from Hit-Boy to Mike Will to fucking Mike Dean, to young upstarts like Travi$ Scott and Young Chop. And there's a certain energy that you have to have to compete with what's going on right now. A lot of people can't do it. But my energy is my win, as well as having substance and rap fundamentals. It's an angst. These statements, like, [from "New God Flow"]: "I believe in a God above me, I'm just the god of everything else." You can't just say that if you don't believe that.

Pitchfork: I'm curious, as far as how the G.O.O.D. Music crew works, do you guys put together a bunch of records and then figure out where things go afterwards?
PT: We don't do shit. We all get a skeleton, write verses, and then 'Ye X's motherfuckers out. [laughs] He X's this guy out, edits that guy's shit, and then we come back and there's a song on top of a new beat. That's how it works.

Pitchfork: As a guy with a healthy ego, is it hard to be edited or X'd out.
PT: No. I just had to learn what 'Ye was looking for. At the end of the day, you have to remember that this Cruel Summer<>  shit-- all this shit-- is his shit. He wants certain performances. Luckily for me, 'Ye likes something that I already do; he's time travelling when it comes to me. He goes, "Man, I want 'Keys Open Doors' <> -- please don't be nice." So it's not bothersome to have to re-write for him. But let me tell you what is bothersome: when he edits my verses and something I want to say is taken out. That becomes a problem. But that's my problem, and we have this discussion all the time. It's a give and take. If I want to keep something in the song, he'll say to me, "I can't give you that alley-oop if you have so many bars, it doesn't work that way." 

Read the rest of the interview here:


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