• 23Apr

    #BHF13 – LESSONS FOR HIP-HOP’S FUTURE STARS: On the excellence of Pusha T


    On July 13, 2013, Pusha T – the year’s best bar-for-bar rapper-to-date – will hit the stage at Brooklyn Bodega’s ninth annual Hip-Hop Festival. The Virginia Beach, VA born emcee’s rise to glory isn’t so much an ascension as it is a story of consistency in the face of rap’s most transitional era-to date. For the better part of twenty years, Terence Thornton has changed nothing about himself. It’s in his ability to live a harrowing life and still find the courage the stare coldly into the mirror each and every morning that truly makes him great. Whereas other emcees of similar levels of experience have found themselves currently on a dance floor in Ibiza, diving headfirst into a mound of cannabis, or merely diversifying their interests into the boardroom, Pusha’s patience and excellence have guided him to the top. On a lineup with Brick City legends like Redman and EPMD, though, why does Pusha’s earnestness and cocaine rap fit, and what can young emcees learn from the rhymer to guide their own careers. As will be done with all #BHF13 headliners, here’s the lessons.

    1) Find a comfortable niche and explore it from all stylistic angles equally.

    Alongside his brother Malice and buoyed by the production of Pharrell Williams, Pusha T’s course was set with 2002 album Lord Willin’, an extraordinary recording that under the topic of “guys dealing cocaine” mixed a plethora of elements that were unfamiliar with the topic. From Harlem-styled braggadocio to sharp-yet-syrupy Southern rhymes and crunk party anthems that could crush dance floors from The Tunnel to Magic City and every variety of rap party stage in-between, it set a stage that, once followed was the iconic stuff-of-legend.

    2) Once you aim for and succeed in becoming popular, just aim to be sustainable.

    If you keep digging in a hole that has oil, you might find gold. It’s rare that rappers become Pusha T. Pusha T was blessed with a producer at the height of his creative abilities and an industry still very much concerned with lyricism. If he were five years earlier or later in the game, the possibility of being as impacting out-of-the-gate is debatable. If Lord Willin‘ hits the streets in 1997, he’s right next to Wu-Tang’s era of dominance. His bars next to say, Raekwon, Ghostface or Meth’s hottest work may not leave him as notable. Five years later, he’s out in 2007, progressive rap digging its toes into electro and the onset of mixtape emcees possibly leaving their steadfastness appearing less than the industry standard. In reaching the top between these two eras, Pusha was able to hit a bar that nobody else in the game was reaching for simultaneously. Rapping in a vacuum must be an amazing feeling. Especially when you know that what you say will have impact within the industry’s most hallowed halls and always allowing you the space to be able to be sustainable. In being able to dig deeper into his iconic space, something as wonderful as Pusha’s undeniably great 2013-to-date can exist.

    3) Always shine brightly, but sparkle in the spotlight.

    It’s not an argument. Pusha T is the best rapper on GOOD Music. Kanye West has assembled an all-star team defined by his own standard of what great rap sounds like under his label. From Big Sean’s absurdity to Q-Tip’s effortless grace, 2 Chainz’s Southern-fried and ribald party-starter ways and so much more, Pusha T’s ice cold flow reigns supreme. From being effortlessly grand on “Runaway and “So Appalled” to setting the pace on “New God Flow,” deftly handling “Mercy’”s proto-dubstep grandeur and finally hammering home real rap’s return on both latest mixtape Wrath of Caine and new champion sound “Numbers on the Boards,” he indeed continues to shine brightly, but sparkle in the spotlight.

    Rap’s in arguably it’s most difficult period. It’s hard to “keep it real” when folks like Jay-Z extend the concept of hip-hop culture’s reality into the most amazing of realms. It’s hard to “keep it real” when so many neophytes prove from “popping a molly and sweating” or disengaging themselves from planet Earth with the use of sing-song bars that reality may not even matter anymore. But, in so confidently being able to up the ante in this era, as well as providing a blueprint for rap’s future, Pusha T is a superstar supreme.

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