Pusha T, Kendrick Lamar, Nas, Busta Rhymes, and Wu-Tang Clan are easily on my all-time favorite rappers list. In 2022, I was lucky enough to either get new music or see them live on tour. In some cases, I got both! My first few blog posts in 2023 will be about the lessons I learned from some of my favorite rappers.
Pusha T – It’s Almost Dry
I was well-prepared for Pusha T’s album “It’s Almost Dry”. Real fans knew it would feature some of the best “cocaine rap” lyrics set to amazing production from Kanye and Pharrell. My brother from Virginia has been following this formula since I was in high school, and he’s only gotten better with time. Although I do not endorse drug trafficking in any way, shape, or form, Pusha T’s clever raps about the subject made this 8th grade history teacher rewind several times.
“I been gettin’ at these coins as I’m breakin’ down the brick / Make the jump to each level, Super Mario exists”
“Rock N Roll”
“Kilogram Kickstarter, push a brick harder/ Left my elbow in the pot, à la Vince Carter” – “Hear Me Clearly”
Critics have long claimed that Pusha T repeatedly raps about the same thing in his music. The reviews of “It’s Almost Dry” were no different, with many praising his clever lyrics but also pointing out a lack of growth in his subject matter. Pusha T’s response was simple:
“I’m the Martin Scorsese of Cocaine Rap”
If you aren’t aware, Martin Scorsese is the movie producer behind classic gangster films like Goodfellas, Casino, and The Departed. Pusha respects Scorsese for making a certain type of movie and doing it very well. He argues that his music is no different and in an interview with NPR he said
“ I do something very specific and I do it very, very well”
Of course, growth is necessary and trying new things is important, but Pusha T highlights the skill of mastery. He has been making some of the best music in the hip hop subgenre of “Cocaine Rap” for decades, and with each album, he stays in his lane and continues to refine his craft. A jack of all trades may be a master of none, but Pusha T is certainly a master of at least one.
The lesson: Don’t be afraid to find what you’re good at and become great at it. We often try to be good at everything and end up being great at nothing. We can only wear so many hats, and as I rapped along with Pusha T during his tour stop in Philadelphia, I was struck by the peace he has found with the hat has chosen to wear.