Although Pusha T and his brother Malice ruled together throughout the 2000s as the duo Clipse, the 2010s and early 2020s saw the former make an even bigger name for himself as a solo act. As the President of Kanye West’s label G.O.O.D. Music, Pusha T delivered his first mixtapes Fear of God and Fear of God II: Let Us Pray in 2011, and never looked back.
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12 years later, the Virginia Beach icon has put out some of the most celebrated and renowned albums hip-hop has to offer in this millennium. On his projects, he’s crafted tales of drug dealing that feel exaggerated or fabricated but could very well be anecdotal. The mystique of the now-45-year-old can be summarized best by the lyric King Push is synonymous with kingpin from his 2015 track “M.F.T.R.” Always appearing larger than life when laying down a verse, it’s hard to overlook the aura and career of Pusha T.
Here are his 10 best songs.
1. “Drug Dealers Anonymous”
It’s bizarre to think that the best song Pusha T ever made never landed on any of his albums. But when you hear his 2016 cut, “Drug Dealers Anonymous,” with Jay-Z, it all begins to make sense. With only two verses on the track, Pusha and Hov examine why life’s a bitch, as the former proclaims in the song’s first verse. As for the latter, whimsically referencing memes of the time like “Damn Daniel!” his performance on the song’s second verse surely makes this one of the best hip-hop songs of the 2010s.
What more could you ask for than a song with Pusha T and Kendrick Lamar? A dream for modern lyricism purists, the Compton emcee Lamar packs quite a punch alongside the elder Pusha. Rapping about the juxtapositional relationship of drugs for the Black community, both parties not only deliver intriguing perspectives, but impeccable bars and delivery of them to even satisfy fans nearly a decade later.
The song was featured on Pusha T’s 2014 debut studio album, My Name is My Name.
After collaborating twice before on “40 Acres” (2014) and “Dope Bitch” (2012), Pusha T and The-Dream connected for two songs on the former’s 2015 LP King Push — Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude. With his voice of an angel, The-Dream made “M.F.T.R.” the highlight track of the album, contrasting with Pusha T’s punchy rap voice to make an all-time great track.
4. “Neck & Wrist”
In 2022, It’s Almost Dry served as an excellent summary and demonstration of the drug dealing lyricism and elite relationships Pusha T had possessed throughout his hip-hop tenure. For the album’s second promotional single released on April 6, 2022, he connected with Jay- Z for the third time in his career, as they both matched each other’s songwriting quality and lyricism from start to finish.
5. “Come Back Baby”
Without question, some of Pusha T’s best songs in his catalog have happened over Kanye West’s production. Executively producing his 2018 album DAYTONA, West put his sample-heavy production on full display, evident on “Come Back Baby.” Letting the sample of George Jackson’s 1969 song “I Can’t Do It Without You” serve as the song’s chorus, Pusha T fills in the gaps with confident flows.
6. “Trouble on My Mind”
Truly encapsulating what hip-hop sounded like in 2011, “Trouble on My Mind” was the first ever lead single for Pusha T. Landing on Fear of God II: Let Us Pray, the song is Push’s first and only collaboration with Tyler, The Creator, who was an angsty, brash upstart at the time. The song is also produced by Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo of The Neptunes, who have worked with Pusha all throughout his long-tenured career.
7. “Numbers On the Boards”
The second promotional single for My Name Is My Name, “Numbers On the Board” sees Pusha T wear his heart on his sleeve. Opening his second verse with an excerpt from Jay-Z’s “A Million and One Questions / Rhyme No More” (1997), it was clear he viewed Hov as an idol, opening the door for their collaborations mentioned above.
8. “The Games We Play”
Opening the song with the bar This ain’t a wave or phase, ’cause all that shit fades / This lifestyle’s forever when you made, it was clear Pusha T meant business on this tape. The second song on DAYTONA, “The Games We Play” is surely a primary contributor to fans considering the LP one of the best of his catalog and of the year 2018, in general. The song debuted at No. 100 on the Billboard Hot 100.
9. “Diet Coke”
Released in Feb. 2022, “Diet Coke” was the lead promotional single for Pusha T’s aforementioned fourth overall studio album, It’s Almost Dry. Epitomizing his career, the song sees him employ a multitude of allusions and clever wordplay to rap about cocaine but never explicitly mention it.
As the fifth track from his sophomore solo album King Push—Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude, “M.P.A.” sees the second and last rendezvous of Kanye West and A$AP Rocky ever on a track. Used only to sing the Money, pussy, alcohol / You n****s pussy after all hook simultaneously, West and Rocky set the stage for menacing verses from Pusha T.
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