Pusha T chops it up with HNHH for an exclusive interview about “Darkest Before Dawn” and more.
On Friday, Pusha T dropped off the prelude to his highly anticipated album, King Push. Although acting as a warm-up album, Darkest Before Dawn is about as dope of an album as any rapper could wish for. Trimmed of any excess fat, Push keeps the album at 10 tracks, with features that compliment his dark style without overpowering him– except for maybe that Beanie Sigel verse, as we discuss later in our interview. It might even be a better record than his debut, My Name Is My Name (should I be so bold as to say it?).
Yesterday, a few days removed from the album’s release, Pusha T got on the phone with me from an undisclosed studio location to chop it up about the album, his newly-anointed presidency at G.O.O.D. Music, and some other random shit, like how amazing a joint album with Pusha T and The-Dream would be (!!!!!).
Check out the full interview below.
HNHH: What’s up?
Pusha T: Hey, how you guys doing?
I’m good how’re you?
I’m good, I’m chilling.
Where are you up to these days, now that the album’s out are you relaxing a little, or still back to work?
Yeah, I’m in the studio right now.
Ohh k, so is everything for “King Push” finished, or you’re still putting the finishing touches on it?
I’m still toying around with a couple of ideas, as well as just writing things in the meantime
Keeping busy. Well, congrats on the new album, it’s really dope, I’ve had it on repeat. And also your presidency at G.O.O.D. Music. Was there any sort of interview process before Kanye gave you the presidency, did you have to jump through any hoops, or was it just like, you have enough cred?
It definitely wasn’t any legit interview; Kanye really just called me and asked me what I felt it about.
Did you have to think about it at all?
Nah, I mean anything he ask me to do in regards to the team, I’m a team player. I was gunna give it my best shot either way. But um, as far as like… I have a good rapport with all the GOOD artists, and I have my hand on the pulse of what’s going on, online and in the streets, and even as far as finding new talent. We’re always talking about what’s hot, what’s not, and I bring a lot of that things to the table. And he just knows I’m pretty meticulous.
Do you have to do any office work? Menial tasks or shit now? Or it’s really not up to you to do that kinda stuff? Like do you ever go into an office.
We have an office, but my manager was appointed A&R, so a lot of the administrative stuff gets handled on that end.
Do you already have ideas for shit you wanna change within the label, or innovate?
Yeah, for sure. I just wanna make sure the brand caters to the fan, and carries on a tradition of creating innovative ways to engage the fan. I feel like people bought into the creative cultural aesthetic of GOOD Music, and I feel like our fans should see that a lot more, with us as a collective. We should do that in regards to GOOD Music tours, festival. Those are my type of mood board type of situations.
A GOOD Music festival would be crazy.
Just getting into the album. You might have made this comparison, maybe not, I know you’ve talked about how “Darkest Before Dawn” is darker content in general; do you feel that it’s more in the Clipse lane than some of the other stuff you’ve done? “Got Em Covered” specifically reminded me of something that maybe the Neptunes might have done— I know Timbaland did it—but was that anything you thought about, just going back to your roots a little, cause you said it was for the core fans?
Yeah, I do feel like some of the soundbeds were more on the unorthodox side, that would remind someone of the Clipse era of music. I feel like even when we – you mentioned “Got Em Covered”— that was great because that was a record in which I had to figure out to how to rhyme on it.
And you had Ab on it so it was totally in that line.
Yeah and it was sorta figuring out the puzzle of how to flow on that joint, and that comes with those unorthodox soundbeds.
Yeah I heard in the RapRadar podcast how you were talking about just taking beats that might scare other MCs off—were there any beats that you tried and it didn’t work out, or were you always able to conquer it?
Nah, there was never anything that was too weird, ’cause I picked beats that would give me a certain groove. The thing about these beats is that you can’t rhyme the same way to each beat. I was looking to conquer that, because it’s about growth, and switching the flow up. ‘Cause sometimes as a writer, you can get locked in to having the strongest bars, but it’s 50,000 bars of monotony. You can be saying the most clever things, and what helps you get out of that rut is different flow patterns and different beat patterns, it makes you do that.
Just speaking of that— monotony and having the flow stay the same, a lot of the shit that’s coming out these days, the melodic rap, it is a similar flow and style, do you listen to any of that melodic rap that’s becoming really trendy these days?
I listen to a lot of it in it’s proper place. That’s not necessarily what I’m listening to in my house, but man, in my car, on the way to something festive, at the club, I got to the club to hear that. Sometimes I go to the club, and because I’m there, I always go to holla at the DJs, they wanna put on all these hard ass records I did, and I’m like no, I’m not here for that right now. I’m here to party and do what I wanna do and keep the energy of the club going. Right now, the records that you speak of, they are that energy.
You mentioned how Future is the GOAT in your Pitchfork Over/Under, and that entire segment is really hilarious, what’s been your favorite Future release from all the stuff he’s dropped recently?
Oh man, well 56 Nights is probably my favorite Future release. And “Never Gon Lose” is probably one of my favorite records but I also like “Digital Dash” from What A Time To Be Alive.
On the album, and in general, the collaborations you’ve done with The-Dream are some of my favorite. The-Dream is just one of my favorite artists. Would you ever consider doing a joint album with him?
Man, that’d be so crazy.
I just feel like you guys have the best balance and chemistry, I think you guys should discuss that.
Thank you. The-Dream is one of my favorite as well, that’d definitely be something I’m looking forward to doing. I think we have very dope chemistry, and I feel like the taste level of our fan is really high.
Yeah because the average person doesn’t even talk about him [The-Dream].
[As I began to ask my next question, we were cut off. When Pusha T came back on the line, I decided to return to The-Dream questioning, because.]
Hey- I was gunna talk about the Beanie Sigel song— but for The-Dream, so you think a joint project isn’t out of the question?
No way, never out of the question, I’d love to do it.
But have you guys ever discussed it?
I mean we have a host of records, and we need a project to put it on, so you know.
That’d be crazy.
Yeah we have a lot of records.
Okay so I was talking about the Beanie Sigel song, “Keep Dealing.” I mean it might have been inadvertent, but did you think about how that song was connected to “Millions”? It instantly reminded me of “Millions.”
“Keeping Dealing”? Wow. Yeah I guess some of the similarities, the millions in the ceilings, or whatever, similarities. I feel like the moods of both of the records are different, and that’s really like street slang, for you know, having a stash of money, Virginia-wise, even if it’s not in the ceilings. Everybody say, ‘I got 50 in the ceiling,’ you know what I’m saying. So I wasn’t even thinking that like, oh man I said that before, cause it’s just like common talk.
Oh yeah, like it’s just slang.
My ceiling empty, like man I gotta run my ceiling back up, meaning, damn, my money low.
And why did you decide to get Beanie Sigel on it, how’d that come about?
I feel like Beanie Sigel is one of the best writers in hip-hop, to date. Just writing-wise, as a writer. As a writer on that type of music bed, there’s not many people who can rhyme better than him.
Yeah and he kinda keeps up with you. I see that.
Hell yeah he keeps up with me, man I’ve been hearing people saying, damn, you got washed by Sigel. And it’s so funny cause they don’t understand, that’s OKAY WITH ME! ‘Cause that means I got one of hell of a song. Cause that’s what I was looking to get, I’m sorta tryna make those moments, tryna recreate those superhero moments of rap. And if that’s means, Sigel get up there on something that I feel like— I feel like I need Sigel cause he really matches the aesthetic. And in a competitive sense, it would be a bit unfair if we were competing— because to me, how I see him and how I’m a fan of him, I feel like that beat was really a Sigel beat to me, more than a Pusha T beat. But because I liked it so much, I was like I gotta get someone on it who’s gunna outdo me, even, to kill the beat, to make sure the song is what it’s supposed to be. Nobody’s gunna paint…
His verse is just like…you guys both have really good enunciation; I find that’s the one of the most entertaining things about listening to you and Beanie both, not just the flow but the way you guys enunciate your words, it makes it hit that much harder.
Ah man thank you.
His verse was really dope. Are you planning on doing another short film with the “King Push” album or was this a one-off thing that you did?
This was just the marriage of the mood and the music, and finding the director with that of energy, that synergy was A1. I can’t say that King Push is gunna have…well it’s definitely not that same mood, so to me, I dunno, I only like certain type of movies, I only like dark movies.
So there wouldn’t be a follow-up film or anything that would continue the story
No, no. My acting was too bad.
[Laughs] But Rotimi, do you watch “Power” is that how come you thought he’d fit the role?
Yeah that’s my favorite shows.
Yeah it’s one of my favorite shows too, it’s really good. Are there any other TV shows that you’re into? I know you worked with Timbaland a lot on this album, have you been watching the stuff that he does on ‘Empire’?
Yeah I’ve checked it out. It’s a little bit..they’re just two different type of sitcoms.
Yeah, for sure. So you’re not a fan of your acting, so we’re not expecting you to act in any movies in the future?
No, not until I got to school.
There was one last thing I wanted to discuss, it’s from, “Alone in Vegas,” you had this line about ‘drug dealer dichotomy.’ I’ve just always loved that phrase and I think it really works well with your music. Did you see that dichotomy playing out again on this album, and if you could just elaborate on what that dichotomy is?
Definitely that dichotomy is on his album. And it’s really for the people who try to pigeonhole me as ‘cocaine rap.’ “Oh well, all it is, is cocaine rap.” And they hear that word, and it’s such a strong drug, devastating drug. So people try to like, they tune everything out, they tune out the principles that lie within the verses. And that’s what the dichotomy is, it’s okay you have something that’s so ugly and then so horrible in my community, and then you have the principled mentality of someone who’s raised within that community and how they balance their morals versus their greed, that’s what it is. So, first of all with the Clipse, that was the beauty of the Clipse to me, one hundred percent. I might have been younger and brasher, my brother was more of the voice of reasoning, more introspective, that’s what it was. I feel like now, that’s my job, and that’s when I really dialed on it, when I went solo. I was like wait a minute, I gotta cater to that fan, and I’m already gunna have to deal with that fan not wanting to hear just one of us, so I have to do my best Malice impersonation, in regards to adding those nuances to my music.