When you think Pusha T you can’t help but summon his famous “ugh.” As a gruff reminder of his standing as the semi-bourgeois, elder prince of Rap, he fumbled into the digital wilds yesterday his first piece of music for what feels like his second solo studio album “King Push.” It’s called “Lunch Money,” and it features Push’ bullying his way through that metaphor over a beat from the end of the world.
As the story goes, it wasn’t posted by some teenage hacker from one of the original thirteen colonies or by Anonymous or anything like that, but was pushed out by the man himself only to be taken back. But there ain’t no time for that on the web, and someone had already copied and pasted the track onto the nano-highway and straight to your musical plate. Of course, after we heard it we had to weigh in. And by we, we mean freelance writer Ural Garrett, our Editor-in-Chief Justin Hunte, and myself, Features Editor Andre Grant.
So, does Pusha T & Ye´ get this one right?
Ural: For the first time, Pusha T sounds just as unimaginative as Yeezy’s production, a shame considering that one-half of The Thorton Brothers delivers a level of aggression not heard in a while. Pusha’s lyrical redundancy (“Real niggaz don’t notice you, I’m the only dope-boy quotable), feels muted in comparison to anything on last year’s My Name is My Name. For someone who was able to move mountains without raising his voice, “Lunch Money” sounds like an empty wagon. However, there are a few clever bars referencing Apple’s new smart-watch and his recent lawsuit brought against him by Miami’s Cameo nightclub.
Until more information on the track is given, “Lunch Money” should technically serve as West’s first non-collaborative production since some of his solo endeavors on Yeezus. Sounding more like an “Otis” redux, the G.O.O.D. Music captain delivers nothing close to the sonically progressive scale of last year’s most talked about album. Even on a technical level, everything sounds incredibly too busy; so far as to almost drown-out Pusha’s vocals. In a perfect world, this track would have gone through the Rick Rubin reduction treatment. Right now, “Lunch Money” is the most unexciting thing West has done all year.
Andre: Pusha T has been trying out different things. Recently, he jumped on Tiga’s “Bugatti” to the tune of his diehards sipping tea while looking wistfully out a window. Then, news of him shacking up with Ye´, Lorde, Haim, and Q-Tip on Stromae’s “Meltdown” off the Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 soundtrack saw him drop a quick Pusha’ eight, introducing the track then passing the baton to Lorde. So, this is the first thing we’ve heard of him by himself for a while, and it is a far cry from the “Numbers On The Boards” of a year ago, forgoing the stark minimalism of MNIMN for lush MGMT like drips and bloops. Blame Kanye, who, after Yeezus, seems simply enamored with putting sounds together again. Peep what he did for Theophilus London’s genre bending on Vibes for a reference.
For King Push the verse is a typical one. “Yeah, I’m taking niggas lunch money / Too bad, I was fuckin’ hungry / Real niggas don’t notice you…” goes the hook, and you expect a brash Pusha T and you get one. “Mami try the land of Sinatra / So she don’t fuck n*ggas with Apple watches / ‘Cause Rolex shopping is more exciting…” It is, surely, and you get a little bit of everything here. He mentions the shootings in Ferguson and the rest of the country of young black men in passing as well as a few other references to coke, jewels, and power. All of these are relevant, but they come off disjointed and, you know, less alive. I wonder if this song is part of some package, a turn from a less flurried, less disjointed record. But all in all, while not exciting as a display of Pusha’s stylistic meanderings or Kanye’s wonder behind the boards, it does succeed in getting me excited about a project I really had no expectations for. He’s yet to plumb the depths of his actual self, however, and that may be the song’s downfall in the end. Throughout, I could only imagine what would have happened if he had pointed his sword inward instead of at tech bits yet to be released.
Justin: Six of “Lunch Money’s” final eight bars dig just deep enough to almost be interesting. “America’s still abusing us / And 9/11 is the Ku Klux,” rips Pusha T. “So why wouldn’t I fire back / When every day them niggas shooting us? / True enough I’m out of line / You better stand for something before you out of time.” Is it obvious what he means when he says “9/11 is the Ku Klux?” Absolutely not, but the sentiment resonates—especially after he kicks “You better stand for something before you out of time.” On background listen, Pusha almost kinda gets sociopolitical. Contextually, that’s almost kinda appreciated.
Unfortunately, the rest of the self-proclaimed “Only Dopeboy Quotable’s” two arm-chair verses carry little more than a backpack full of platitudes. “What I’m wearing in this blizzard, nigga?” he raps. I know! I know! Something that ends with lizard, nigga! “Lunch Money” drowns in obviousness, basks in banality. If it weren’t for Kanye’s unexpected composition—which feels structurally inspired by The Neptunes’ “Ride Around Shining” off of the Clipse classic, Hell Hath No Fury — “Lunch Money” would hit more like Lunchable. In a dark room or a packed out lounge, this feels like the same song the Virginia-native’s dropped his entire career. Maybe one of these days Pusha T will get back to pushing margins.
Andre Grant is an NYC native turned L.A. transplant that has contributed to a few different properties on the web and is now the Features Editor for HipHopDX. He’s also trying to live it to the limit and love it a lot. Follow him on Twitter @drejones.
Justin “The Company Man” Hunte is the Editor-in-Chief of HipHopDX. He was the host of The Company Man Show on PNCRadio.fm and has covered music, politics, and culture for numerous publications. He is currently based in Los Angeles, California. Follow him on Twitter @TheCompanyMan.
Ural Garrett is an Los Angeles-based writer and photographer. For the past several years, he’s written for numerous publications ranging from HipHopDX to SoulTrain. When not covering music, video games, films and the community at large, he’s in the kitchen baking like Anita. Follow him on Twitter @Uralg.