Say what you will about Pusha T, but don’t ever say the man can’t rap. His latest release, the notably concise DAYTONA (formerly known as King Push until the 11th hour), has the Virginia native sounding his most comfortable since Clipse’s 2006 classic LP HELL HATH NO FURY.
album 1 PUSHA T DAYTONA dropping 2mrw pic.twitter.com/M1UPvax5fa
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 24, 2018
It’s been three years since Pusha dropped his last full length project, which can prove to be a death sentence for a rapper’s career in this day and age. During his press run, Pusha explained the album is named after his favorite Rolex watch, awarded to artists like himself, one that “only comes when you have a skill set that you’re confident in.” “DAYTONA reflects that I have the luxury of time.”
Ahead of the release, Push’s manager Steven Victor shared a screenshot of a groupchat where he referred to the project as “flawless” and the “album of the year.” The album clocks in at 21-minutes, with barely any hooks and no clear radio single in sight. The project leaves little room for error, and yes, in essence the LP is really an EP. While many fans may feel shortchanged by the albums diminutive length, it conveys just how confident Pusha and Kanye were that they could go completely against the grain and deliver a masterful project.
— Lord Steven Victor (@StevenVictor) May 18, 2018
Album opener “If You Know You Know” serves as his assertive mission statement. Pusha put all his bravado into this track, rapping over hi-hats and sparse sounds for 36 seconds before the beat finally drops. “A rapper turned trapper can’t morph into us/But a trapper turned rapper can morph into Puff,” he raps, with Sean Combs already replying to his namedrop by calling the album “a true classic.” On the album’s clear stand-out, “The Games We Play,” Pusha proclaims his raps are as potent as rap legend Raekwon’s The Purple Tape. “Hard Piano” pairs Kanye’s expertly crafted blend of rolling piano keys and low snares with Rick Ross’ delivery of a master class on nocturnal opulence and decadence.
Before this album, I always felt The Neptune’s production got the best out of Pusha. But Kanye’s brilliant production alongside Pusha’s potent braggadocios raps are electrifying. Kanye went to Wyoming for 18 months to weave together an exhilarating rollercoaster ride filled with ambiguous samples, dramatic vocal breaks, and his best piano arrangements since Late Registration. Sonically Kanye is, as the kids would say, “in his bag.” “Come Back Baby” sees Pusha rap over a soulful instrumental before the track bursts into a passionate sample of George Jackson’s 1969 track “I Can’t Do Without You.” The following track, “Santeria” features Pusha rapping over a rework of the lingering guitar licks sampled on Lil’ Kim’s “Drugs,” before heavenly Spanish vocals from 070 Shake dissolve the track’s rapid, machine-gun drums. Pusha reveals a rare glimpse of his vulnerable side rapping about coping with the murder of his road manager, De’Von Pickett. The album’s closer “Infrared” finds Pusha reigniting his feud with Drake and Cash Money Records. It doesn’t have the same impact that “Exodus 23:1” did, but Pusha’s slick shots are still there; “It was written like Nas, but it came from Quentin.”
Daytona is the first project out of Wyoming. I’m really proud of what we put together. We’ve spent a year and a half digging for samples and writing. I really appreciate the overwhelmingly positive response that we’ve been receiving. 🙏🙏🙏
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 24, 2018
DAYTONA has very few wasted moments, which gave me some new insight on Push’s solo career. This short and concise approach was the best way to display his full strength as a lyricist, delivering his best raps since HELL HATH NO FURY. As a part of the Clipse, his work load wasn’t as heavy and whatever he lacked, his brother Malice was there to pick up the slack. Following his last two releases, many felt something was missing or that his best songs had features. What DAYTONA lacks in length it makes up for in wordplay, clever metaphors, and precise production. The replay value on the project makes sure you catch every punchline, metaphor, and sample. DAYTONA may possibly be his magnum opus that defines his solo career. Nowadays fans want vulnerability and conceptual depth from rappers, and some try it and fail miserably. What Pusha T has done is stay true to who he is and who can be mad at that? Besides, who really wants King Push to rap about anything else but coke?!