2018 has been an amazing year for rap. We’ve seen the return of Slim Shady, five Kanye West produced albums, and one of the most volatile rap beefs to ever occur in the game with Pusha T completely destroying Drake. Along with making a star fall, Pusha T created my favorite album of the year, the first of the five Kanye produced albums of 2018, Daytona.
From the very beginning, when the album cover was released and we saw Whitney Houston’s addiction exploited for art with a photograph of her drug strewn bathroom as the cover, Daytona garnered controversy and hype. Then with “Infared”, the last track on the short, seven song album taking shots at Drake, nucleur heat was generated between the two rap Gods.
For the first time in a long while, traditional rap stabbed through trap’s control of hip hop media. Finally, there was a ray of hope that hip hop could rekindle its golden years when the metric of quality was lyricism and beef elevated everyone in the game. So Pusha took shots at Drake with “Infared” then Drake came back with “Duppy Freestyle” and Pusha T ended the beef with a clean kill after dropping “The Story of Adidon” which featured a real photo of Drake in black face on the cover and lyrics that took shots on Drake’s father, Drake’s producer Noah Shebib, and revealed Drake is a dead beat Dad to a bastard child with a porn star. No one had ever heard a diss track that went this overboard. It pushed the limits of what was acceptable in a diss and when the public deemed it appropriate, a new precedent was set in the rap game.
Pusha T has always been on the cutting edge of the new great sound in hip hop, beginning with his hip hop group with his brother, Clipse and their Neptunes produced album Lord Willin.
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When Daytona dropped and Pusha T played Jimmy Kimmel, I pulled some strings to attend the show but only saw him play the album’s single “If You Know You Know” twice. The performance was cool but I was far from satisfied. Arriving at the Observatory, I knew the time had come to finally see the songs I’ve been playing in the car for months performed live. There’s no better feeling in show-hopping.
A few rappers warmed the crowd up as the sold-out Observatory filled to the brim and the anticipation began to mount. When Pusha T appeared on stage the crowd erupted. The Daytona experience had begun and Pusha began his set with “If You Know You Know”. A song where he affirms that only those that have seen the harder side of life, like Pusha did as a drug dealing cocaine cowboy, will be able to relate to his lyrics. Moving on, Pusha kept going down the Daytona track list until hitting my favorite song on the album “Hard Piano” which features the hardest first line on the record:
“Never trust a bitch who finds love in a camera, she will fuck you then turn around and fuck a janitor.”
Along with the first line, the song’s epic chorus are highlights on the album. Pusha didn’t just stick to the Daytona shit though, he played verses from the other tracks he’s been featured on including Kanye West’s “Runaway” and Kids See Ghosts’ “Feel The Love”. Pusha also performed classics from his time in The Clipse such as “Grindin'” which unhinged the crowd into dancing.
Pusha T performed all the songs that earned him his high ranking in the culture and at Kanye’s record label Good Music, as the label’s president. After this epic concert, all I can say is hail to the chief, King Push.
Words by: Rob Shepyer
Photos by: Michael Haight