Pusha T Reflects On His Debut Studio Album ‘My Name Is My Name’ Five Years Later

The album proved that he could sell dope without his brother.

Bonsu Thompson

It was G.O.O.D Music Fridays that ignited the initial interest in Pusha T’s solo debut. Late September 2010, Kanye West turned the rap game upside down by releasing one of hip-hop’s more ferocious posse cuts, “So Appalled.” Pusha bragging about giving fiends “Bobby Brown jaw,” snatched bar lovers by the ears. Between Paris, Hawaii, Virginia, and New York, he and ‘Ye shifted into album mode. But it wasn’t until Jay-Z returned from his well-documented 2013 Cuba trip and dropped the Swizz Beatz and Timberland produced, “Open Letter” that King Push’s first studio opus became a priority. Although Pusha initially protested, West insisted they counter Hov’s release with the remarkable “Numbers On The Board.” “That’s when I realized how compulsive Kanye is,” Pusha T says. “It also introduced me to how things work at G.O.O.D. There isn’t a lot of strategy. Everything works off of energy at G.O.O.D. Good music lasts forever was the mentality.”

Great music is what the younger half of the coke-rap duo The Clipse whipped up. My Name Is My Name is simply an amalgamation of Yeezy’s fan x visionary leadership, Pharrell’s free-spirited genius, stellar guests––from Swizz to Kendrick Lamar––at the top of their game, and a rap champ, who recognizes toothless crackheads as his mascot, reclined in his comfort zone (thanks largely to West). “Kanye hears me one way,” says Push. “He’s like, Hell Hath No Fury is my favorite album and I want you to sound like that all the time. Every single day.’”

October 8th, 2018 marks My Name Is My Name’s fifth anniversary. It’s been several years since Push last listened to it. To commemorate, the “Hines Ward of the Crime Lords” and I ran through the entire album, reminisced and conversed. He explains he and Rick Ross’ streak, reveals which track infuriates him, and tells how he landed the greatest acronym in rap, if not music, history. He also ran into Evelyn Lozado after “Numbers On The Board” dropped. But that’s a convo for another time.

Produced by Sebastian Sartor

"Sebastian Sartor is Lars Ulrich’s stepson from Metallica. I really stole that record from Kanye. This is in Paris. This is Yeezus time. I was like, 'I just need one more!' He probably got tired of me begging and gave me the record. I knew I just had to execute. He was 100 percent fully into it. I remember feeling like it needed a conventional hook. He was like, 'No man, the repetition is ‘I don’t sing hooks.’ That’s it.' This is one of the last records [I recorded]. I knew [it would be the intro]. That beat was so commanding. It was unorthodox and wasn’t the most hip-hop beat, but it grabbed your attention. And I felt like lyrically, I was definitely giving it up."

Produced by Don Cannon

"To me, Cannon is a special individual. Cannon has young sensibilities but he’s also a hip hop purist. He sent me that and knew it was refreshing but still sounds like the essence; it sounds so industrial…like Nine Inch Nails. ‘Ye always wants to hear all the beats…I remember him hearing this and saying, 'That’s special. You do that now. Like right now.' I already knew it was fire. I think [88 Keys] provided the reoccurring 'Yeah' sample. The second verse was [originally] the first verse. The song originally started with the [Jay-Z 'Rhyme No More'] sample. This was all manipulated after I gave ‘Ye the record. He was like, the impact is, 'I’m so flossy/Bitch get off me.' I’m like, 'No, the song goes like this…' And he’s like, 'You have to get out of that mindset of it being so formulaic.' But Cannon nailed it. We talk all the time. He’ll call me like, 'I got some shit that only you’ll rap on.'"

”SWEET SERENADE” Feat. Chris Brown
Produced by Swizz Beatz

"I heard that [beat] and immediately was like, 'That’s a single.' Swizz had an artist that referenced it. So of course Steven Victor is like, 'We got to get Chris Brown.' I was like, 'Chris, Virginia–Wow.' I’m anti people getting what they expect [from music]. I felt like Chris wasn’t full Chris on this. I felt like everyone was in their alter ego state. Chris was reaching to be more ghostly… I felt like the record is haunting. Even me evoking that in my bars with 'Voodoo…' If I have to do singles, this is what I want to do."

“HOLD ON” Feat. Rick Ross
Produced by Kanye West

"One of my favorite records. One of the top beats on the album. If I ever ask anyone to do a record for me, nine times out of 10, I’m going to send you my verse and the hook. So I can ensure that you stay on topic; that you give me the best verse. At least, so that you know how I’m coming and you can marry that. Hopefully you beat it. It’s going to make for the best song. Ross is the only person I send a verse to and can turn my back. He’s the only person that gives me perfect every time."

“SUICIDE” Feat. Ab Liva
Produced by Pharrell

"That shit is 100 percent fun. No real direction. Just bars and metaphors. Just that whole mixtape feel. I ask Pharrell for mixtape records a lot. Sometimes with a super producer you get caught up in swinging for the fences. Sometimes I’m like I want to make the best mixtape record we can make. So he’ll be like, 'Ok, you want unorthodox? Let’s try to marry that.' When he starts talking at the top of the record, that means Pharrell is in full character; he’s in full acting mode. I don’t even know what he said. [Laughs]"

“40 ACRES” Feat. The Dream
Produced by Rico Beatz & The Dream

"Probably my favorite song on the album. Definitely meant the most to me. It was a testament to everything personal going on in my life, mixed with trying to live up to the expectation of bringing a Clipse level of transparency without my brother being there. What everyone loved about The Clipse dynamic was me being brash and my brother being conscious. Dream and Rico were the same producers from 'Exodus.' Dream knew that was the emotional moment I was looking for. The beat had additional drums and stuff, but he took them out after hearing my verse."

“NO REGRETS” Feat. Jeezy and Kevin Cossom
Produced by Beewirks & Hudson Mohawke

"Kevin Cossom is so good. We worked together on a record called 'Feeling Myself' on the first Fear of God album. He’s somebody who opened me up to beats that were more melodic. People were trying to put other individuals on the song to sing. I was like fuck that. I sent Jeezy the record with all my vocals on it and he really really killed it. I’m really weary about asking people for verses. I never worked with Jeezy before, but this was a flawless victory for him."

“LET ME LOVE YOU” Feat. Kelly Rowland
Produced by The Dream

"I hate people for not liking this. It didn’t get the reception that I wanted and I’m very angry about that. I got no outside love for that record and it pissed me off because, in my mind, that was a single. That was my way to do a single. I’m trying to find ways to put myself in a more radio area I’ve never been in. It’s my best rendition of Mase where people could sing along, but slick enough [lyrically]. It’s what I thought Mase was; why I thought he was great. Motherfuckers be trying to keep me in my box. They won’t even let me pay homage to my time, to people I fuck with. Mase definitely reached out. Hit me up and told me it was dope. I love the record, but I just didn’t get that off."

‘WHO I AM” Feat. 2 Chainz and Big Sean
Produced by Kanye West

"This was nothing more than my mindset at the time. I was missing my 'street team' and I realized even at one of the most defining moments of my career, with a new musical team at G.O.O.D, I still missed the rush, energy and drug gang loyalty of 'my guys.' For some reason, ‘Ye didn’t want me to have this particular beat. The Weeknd recorded to it, but ended up not being on it. But I was super happy how it came out. Got to give thanks to Chainz and Sean."

Produced by Knottz

"I was in Hawaii getting beats from Nottz. He sent me quite a few. I don’t even think we were looking for me. I think Ye was looking for shit. It’s 2010, so [Kanye and I are] still learning each other. He’s like, 'See what Nottz got.' But when I heard that [imitates the guitar sample that begins track] it was over. I was in Paris when Kendrick sent [his verse] back. [Ye and I] were dumbfounded. This was right after good kid, m.A.A.d city. The story was so good. What Kendrick did was so strong. Basically, he was just speaking to a family member that, I believe, was on drugs. Maybe hustling first and then was on drugs and just his perspective of it. Then he personified it like, now I’m dope. That shit was remarkable. I was so grateful because you give motherfuckers your shit and you want them to take it to the house. At least, I do."

Produced by Kanye West

"This was just different instances of what I felt causes pain throughout life––from female shit to the Feds knocking at your door to finding out you’re poor. Also the verses were switched and chopped. There were bars before '18 wheeler gorillas!' I don’t even remember the first line. It was a lot [of chopping]. Ye’s an impact guy. I was with him for a while, we went away and then came back to New York. He was asking, what’s hot? I was like I love this and that, was really into Chief Keef, and this record called '3HUNNA.' I was like this motherfucker Future is the shit. [Kanye] was like, 'Really?' I’m like, 'Dogs, Future the shit.' He says, 'For real? Get him up here.' I call Future. Future comes to New York wearing all red––plaid! Might’ve had plaid boots on. Put the beat on and he just goes in and hums. I was telling him, 'With this joint, you do what you do, but you’re a witch doctor.' That’s what the beat and him [humming] sounded like. He was giving me witch doctor vibes. To this day, 'Pain' is still one of my favorite records to perform.

Produced by Pharrell

"I got a call…I want to believe I was in Virginia. Essentially the phone call was like you’re not going to hear from me no more. He was basically telling me you ain’t gonna talk to me no more. I can’t do all this time. I hung up the phone and called Pharrell like let me tell you what happened. 'What is he saying exactly?' He’s like, 'He’s really about to [snitch]. I don’t think he’s going to go in on you, but he’s telling you that he’s gonna [snitch].' We hang up and then a couple days later I’m at South x Southwest in a car service and he calls me like, 'I got it. Sorry Nigga I’m Tryna Come Home.' I’m like that’s a long title. [Laughs] He’s like, 'No nigga, it’s S.N.I.T.C.H.' I’m like 'Oh my God! This is the greatest shit you ever gave me!.' He’s like, 'It’s crazy, right?! Now go write it.'

Stream My Name Is My Name here.