For Terrance “Pusha T” Thornton to be considered as one of rap’s most underrated, there sure is a lot of hype surrounding his debut solo mixtape Fear of God . But the attention has been earned: during his years of work as the brash half of respected Virginia rap duo Clipse and one fourth of Re-Up Gang, his sharp, cold-blooded rhymes always stuck out. And since he signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music imprint last year and appeared on several of his album tracks and leaks, Pusha has been getting things that “underrated” emcees don’t get very much: MTV Video Music Awards performances; even more critical success; presumed Grammy nods, not hopeful ones.
Amongst a small selection of songs, Pusha T uses a seemingly limited subject matter to show a relatively versatile set of capabilities. The single “My God” features sharp-tongued bars over military drums and rich organs by Hitboy, and “Feeling Myself” is radio-ready with a bass-heavy backdrop, a catchy hook, and solid 16’s. “I Still Wanna” , which features Rick Ross and Ab-Liva, shows how much Pusha can still hold his own alongside other spitters with a string of subsequent punchlines. And on the mixtape closer “Alone In Vegas” , he fuses brash bars with introspective rhymes about lost friends and lovers. Selections like these showcase the best of what a musical marriage between Pusha T and Kanye can become, even when ‘Ye isn’t the one behind the boards.
But there are disappointments here as well. The Kanye-assisted “Touch It” is fun for a moment, but wears itself out after the first listen – a far cry from the duo’s work on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and G.O.O.D. Fridays. And while “Raid” sees Pusha snapping over a great Neptunes beat, he doesn’t have chemistry with 50 Cent on the song – and chemistry has never been a worry with Clipse. Despite the tradition of the We Got It 4 Cheap mixtapes using industry beats, the appearance of the likes of Lil Wayne‘s “Money On My Mind” and Soulja Boy‘s “Speakers Goin Hammer” feels dated at best and lazy at worst. Songs like these seem to lack the focus that Pusha T and Kanye have built their reputations off of.
Fear of God isn’t quite worth the hype, but it still shows the promise that Pusha can achieve with G.O.O.D. Music. On Kanye’s “So Appalled,” a song that Pusha T appears on, Jay-Z says, “I went from the favorite, to the most hated/but would you rather be underpaid, or overrated?” It seems like Pusha T has made his decision – and Fear of God shows both the positive and negative results.
DX Consensus: EP-worthy.