The thing about hip-hop is that it becomes easily embroiled in who’s got beef with whom. That means you can quickly lose track of which artist is flavour of the month and which is massively on the naughty step. Kanye West is generally the latter, for x-number of reasons, and Kid Cudi spoke out recently about not wanting to feature on further music with him; he’d simply had ‘Rock N Roll’ banked with Pusha T for a while. It was that interaction that first signalled to me that a new album was on the cusp of release. Meanwhile, I’m just here for the tunes.
Flash forward and I’m here, merrily spinning ‘It’s Almost Dry’ over and over again. And I can safely tell you that it’s worthy of the repetition…
Part of the excitement of a rap album is hearing what’s been sampled, and obviously Push has creatively assembled some bangers. I’m nodding towards ‘Just So You Remember’ as I type that — after all, it features ‘Six Day War’ by Colonel Bagshot. Not familiar? Two words: Tokyo Drift.
But the embedded mentions are clever, too — there’s even one referencing Third Eye Blind (which, as a side note, serves as another indirect plug, after their recent cameo acted out in hit series Pam & Tommy). There’s poetry behind the lyrical genius of seasoned rappers, and the wordplay and lexical manipulation is seriously on point here. You’ve got Push’s tracklist flexing with a handful of huge names as well — Kanye himself, plus Pharrell Williams, who also did some of the production work. Of course there’s Kid Cudi, but Jay-Z, Lil Uzi Vert, Nigo, Labrinth and more have all graced the mic. Impressive — and their individual contributions are pretty flawless.
Circling back, as much as ‘Just So You Remember’ is probably the record’s commendable dark horse, ‘Dreamin Of The Past’ samples Donny Hathaway’s ‘Jealous Guy’ and it’s just a beauty. Catchy, chilled but impactful. Ultimately, recycling hooks from previous soul greats is another reason why hip-hop is a genre I enjoy so much. The ability to adapt and remodel a former, well-crafted sculpture into some funky-as-hell, new material that stands bold in the modern era? Yeah, you can’t tell me that’s not applaudable and a real skill. It’s having the ear initially and then being able to fuse something else, that’s different but equally worth savouring, which I find smart.
‘Brambleton’ and ‘Diet Coke’ get my vote, while the wildly popular ‘Neck & Wrist’ doesn’t quite do it as much for me. ‘Scrape It Off (feat. Lil Uzi Vert & Don Toliver)’ will have your hips shaking in seconds — it’s a vibe — then the fierce ‘Hear Me Clearly (feat. Nigo)’ steamrolls in and it’s a harsh, take-no-prisoners track that serves as a verbal warning. It’s a bit arrogant, dripping in swagger, but it’s definitely one of the best on the album.
Sure, it can usually be argued that rap music is just full of swearing, taboo and chest-puffing, it will always have its merit in my eyes. Don’t forget how slick that linguistic manipulation is — especially when you’ve got hip-hop veterans like Pusha T penning the bars.
If you only download one track, let it be: ‘Just So You Remember’