Pusha T is known for two things; rapping about selling cocaine and rapping about cutting cocaine. References to bricks, moving weight, cookin’ in Pyrex and pushing have been such a facet of Pusha’s music that he has ushered in “coke rap.” For years Pusha T has leaned into his cocaine image with bricks of… maybe cocaine and maybe not…on his turntables during shows and referencing cocaine as much as possible. For Pusha, it is part of his narrative from street dealer to hip hop icon. He always walked the line between glorifying the opulence of money from drug dealing and not neglecting his roots.
To no one’s surprise, Pusha’s first record in 4 years, It’s Almost Dry, goes back to that cocaine well, but with a twist. Pusha is now 45 and not the brash 23 year old rapping with his brother Malice in Clipse, which has brought a different lens to his coke rhymes. It’s Almost Dry sees Pusha thinking about his mortality and the destructive impact cocaine and crack had on the African – American community. He evaluates his role in that destruction and takes a different view of his past “coke rap” celebrations. I Pray For You is a good example of this switch in tone as an older Pusha T thinks about his legacy, mortality and faith.
Pusha uses a number of producers on the record, including Kanye West, Pharrell and Labrinth (who is the producer on this track). The track itself is a mix of tight beats, gospel choruses and some ominous pipe organ that seems to be spun backwards at times. The organ over the beats gives a track a dark quality that seems to warn you of impending doom. Gospel choir breaks act as an oasis from gothic verses of cocaine, death, violence and regret. There is a lot happening in this track, which is a far cry from the stripped back nature of other Pusha tracks like Numbers on the Boards.
Lyrically this marks the long awaited reunion of Clipse as Malice joins the track. The two did appear on a Kanye track roughly four or five years ago, but this is the two back on a Pusha record. This is a different vibe than their breakthrough track Gridin‘ with Pharrell where the theme was all about the stacks of money they make moving coke. On this track Pusha and Malice both continue to reference how they had to hustle and grind in order to make it, but this is more about survival than diamond watches and stacks of cash. I Pray For You talks about demons and the darker side of selling drugs to survive. There are references to Porches and bricks, but there are also references to the struggle to survive, drinking in order to escape pain and facing down demons. Pusha and Malice come at this with less swagger than exposing the darker side of doing what you need to do to survive.
Pusha keeps talking about his legacy and being timeless throughout I Pray For You. This is not the 20 year old flashing cash with Malice as they cruise the street, but someone who is thinking about their own mortality. Pusha’s popping crystal voice is still there and adds depth to the track and it is great to hear him with Malice. This is a different Pusha T and I’m interested to see if this continues on future projects.
Listen to I Pray For You