IT’S ALMOST DRY: THE PERFECT PORTRAYAL OF PUSHA-T
“Yesterday’s price is NOT today’s price” pulsated through the speakers of rap fans across the globe in February as the opening line on ‘Diet Coke’, the first single from the pending fourth studio album by legendary Virginia Beach emcee Pusha T.
“I was bored by these albums, so it gotta be time”– Pusha T, ‘Dreamin’ Of The Past’
He needs no introduction at this stage of his illustrious career. ‘It’s Almost Dry’ is the King Push album we’ve longed for since 2018’s Grammy-winning ‘Daytona’. Recognised as one of the most consistent and revered rap artists in history; it’s fair to say he just doesn’t miss. Constantly reaching new highs unattainable for most emcees, a two-year pandemic-induced wait time had expectations even high than normal for a Push project, even amongst the noise of a crowded 2022 release schedule.
Pusha’s been in the game so long that collaborating with hip-hop legends isn’t a stretch, it’s an expectation. It’s just something he does. ‘It’s Almost Dry’ was half produced by Ye and half produced by Pharrell Williams, a concept that only he could pull off. Both figures are iconic in their own right, having played significant individual roles in Pusha’s career. Pharrell production was largely influential in Clipse’s rise in the early 00s; sporting BAPE and other fashion and sonic trends that the trio together helped pioneer. From the early 2010s, Ye took the baton and re-birthed Pusha as a solo emcee on ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’, later signing him to G.O.O.D Music and playing a pivotal role in the success of every Pusha-T album since.
Terrence Thornton burst onto the scene in the mid-’90s alongside his brother, Malice, as the two formed one of the most acclaimed hip-hop duos under the name Clipse. ‘Lord Willin’ and ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ are still listened to fondly, both albums serving as a perfect time capsule of the transition between the 90’s style of rap which was being replaced with newer flows, writing styles, and bigger scale production. After they eventually split music-wise, Pusha continued on his quest to become the greatest street rapper of all time and proceeded to effortlessly transcend the eras of rap. He’s now recognised as one of the most polished, adaptable, and calculated hip-hop artists we’ve ever seen. And has been a consistent force across three decades; with no sign of slowing down.
Singles ‘Hear Me Clearly’ and ‘Neck and Wrist’ provided eager fans with a comfortable mesh of the classic Pusha-T presence and lyricism with experimental new cadences. One of the most personal and vulnerable tracks of his career ‘Brambleton’ showed his unique ability to walk the tightrope between transparency and ego, providing new insight while maintaining his signature flair.
‘Let the Smokers Shine The Coupes’ lit the flames that Pusha (and Drake) fans know and love, and flowed nicely into ‘Dreamin Of The Past’, featuring Kanye West. In a project full of high moments, ‘Call My Bluff’ delivered an Everest-like flex. Inspired by the Joaqium Phoenix role in 2019’s ‘Joker’ , the visuals cast Pusha comfortably as the calculated, evil genius, adding to Pusha’s extensive upper echelon street market catalogue.
Despite now being 45 years of age, Pusha T appears to age like fine wine, maintaining a collaborative fearlessness and willingness ability to step out of his comfort zone. Age, style, and genre don’t matter, and his intent on delivering quality is rampant, evident on tracks like ‘Scrape It Off’ with Lil Uzi Vert and Don Toliver – two artists well out of the traditional realm of his sonic collaborators. He’s always willing to experiment, yet stay within the confines of what he does best – a formula that has helped contribute to his longstanding status.
Comfortably carved into the Mount Rushmore of coke rap, while the majority of Pusha T’s music has centred around the same subject matter, it’s never stale as his creative genius enables him to present it differently each time. He experiments in his approach, but also in his delivery too (see ‘Call My Bluff’, heavily inspired by Slick Rick). Most artists struggle to make a career last a few years, let alone three decades in the upper echelon of their genre, – ‘It’s Almost Dry’ doesn’t lose the essence of what Pusha T is all about, but still delivers something new and fresh enough to keep people engaged.
If there’s a low on the album it’s not Pusha himself, it’s Kanye’s lacklustre verse on ‘Rock N Roll’ alongside Kid Cudi, famously their last song together after a recent extremely public fallout. But that’s it. There’s only ever one complaint about Pusha T across his catalogue – it’s never enough. He ALWAYS leaves us wanting more, such is the finesse and polish of delivery. But that’s just Pusha. He always delivers an addictive, high-quality product that has the streets fiending for their next hit. He’s about his business in more ways than one.
‘It’s Almost Dry’ is unquestionably one of the best rap projects of 2022. Pusha T is Scarface to the youth. He’s the hitman, the street rap flag bearer, the one calling the shots whilst simultaneously standing firmly on the front line. Pusha T is far from finished. Rap is changing. It’s evolved. The substance is scare. The streets are hungry. It’s almost dry. But so long as King Push keeps providing, it won’t be.