One of the happiest of the many stories to get lost in the maelstrom that was Kanye West’s 2010 was the rehabilitation of Pusha T, perhaps the single most critically beloved and commercially unsuccessful rapper of the last five years. The Clipse, his duo with his brother Malice, had sat on the shelf for four long years following the release of 2002’s Lord Willin’, scrapping at least one putative album and releasing several furious mixtapes in the process; when Hell Hath No Fury finally came out, it was hailed as a masterpiece…then sold all of 36,000 copies its first week out. 2009’s Til the Casket Dropped was a disappointment, as were the mixtapes that bracketed it–after years of fighting an industry that couldn’t figure out a way to make them stars, it seemed like these once vital rappers had lost both their will to struggle and their creative spark. Until, that is, Kanye scooped Pusha up last year, putting him on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy‘s finest single, “Runaway,” and signing him to his G.O.O.D. Music imprint (and, among other things, bringing him to last week’s SXSW). Pusha responded by promptly returning to making great music, or something close to it; listen to the vintage-sounding Pharrell production “Raid,” with 50 Cent, for instance:
That song, like the handful of other singles Push has released in the past month, are from Fear of God, the solo mixtape the rapper finally let go in full earlier today. We’re partial to the whole “security blanket of cocaine, I am Linus” Charlie Brown reference on the Rick Ross-featuring “I Still Wanna,” but you will have your own favorites. There are those who will wish Pusha could find other things to rap about than the drug trade, if only because Kanye’s emo mode seemed to bring out something new and vulnerable (or, alternately, vengeful) in him, but we’ll take new music from the guy any way we can get it.