Pusha T returns with It’s Almost Dry – a typically feisty and eloquent album, with less consistency, but more variety, than 2018’s DAYTONA.
Singers sing, rappers rap, Pusha T snarls. That hasn’t changed. Across It’s Almost Dry, the flow that has elevated the Virginia Beach rapper to the all-time elite is as lucid as ever.
Many of the topics have broadly been covered before, as well. Cocaine, cars, watches and crime; beef, and braggadocious tales from his road to riches and the unwavering respect Push still demands. Somehow, with him, the posturing exists beyond machismo, and rather lives in the realm of artistic bravado. This makes the arrogance enjoyable, and moments of vulnerability all the more compelling.
Personnel wise, it’s again familiar. Push has been working with Pharrell Williams since his Clipse days in the 1990s. Speaking of artistic bravado, there’s been no greater exponent of that technique than a certain Kanye West. These two have been working together for over a decade, with Pusha T first signing to, and then becoming president of, West’s GOOD Music record label. Few artists are able to enlist the likes of Pharrell and Kanye to co-produce their album and Pusha T doesn’t waste it.
The appearances of Labrinth, Lil Uzi Vert and Don Toliver are more surprising, and allow a lyrical variety that Push alone could not reach. Production wise, the more experimental influence of Pharrell is clear, and triumphant.
It’s Almost Dry is hardly lengthy – coming in under 36 minutes – but is more indulgent than DAYTONA, where each and every second of the seven songs was utilised, as Push stripped it back to basics. That the same cannot be said for It’s Almost Dry perhaps means it won’t stand on the same critical pedestal as DAYTONA, but equally means it’s far more accessible and likely appeals to a much broader audience.
And by not being as concise and measured, this album has some serious high points. The outro, ‘I Pray For You’ sees the Clipse duo reunite and deliver, with Push giving the final verse on the album to Malice. The song is propelled by a church organ, and opens with the haunting appearance from Labrinth.
Another stand out is ‘Rock N Roll’ – featuring Kid Cudi and Kanye West. With the superteam assembled, it should hardly be surprising that the song is as good as it is – but surprising it is. I don’t want to like so much of this song, but it all works, and to unite three variations of hip-hop so smoothly in under four minutes is astounding.
‘Neck & Wrist’ is another jam-packed song. It plays host to countless ad-libs, a more contemporary hook from Pharrell and Push, and an authoritative verse from HOV. These three have been going at it for 30 plus years now, and are still able to impress with their interpretation of a 2022 sounding song.
Which just leaves my favourite off the album, ‘Dreamin Of The Past.’ The Donny Hathaway sample is beautiful, so effortlessly smooth and so well paired with Pusha’s flow, it reminds me of ‘Come Back Baby’ – the best song on DAYTONA.
Such is the quality of the ‘Dreamin Of The Past’ production, Push revealed in an interview with Charlemagne that he had to “beg” Ye for the beat, as it was originally meant to be on DONDA. It’s now impossible to imagine it anywhere other than right where it is, where it belongs.
As good as Push’s first three verses are, it’s also impossible to overlook the Kanye verse to close it out. It’s refreshing to know, for all the antics, Kanye can still rap as well as anyone when he wants to. So can Pusha T – who’s still got that ferocious bite.