The issues with My Name Is My Name aren't derived from a lack of support. Many may look to Clipse, the rap duo of Pusha T and brother Gene "No Malice" Thornton, as the comparison point for the former's solo debut. They needn't. Pusha proved his competence sans sibling during a two-year tour of GOOD Music guest spots. Fewer noticed him than they did the Big Sean and 2 Chainz self-marketing machines, but as Pusha demonstrated during "Mercy," he could be GOOD's best. And yet My Name ends up half-baked.
Label boss Kanye West drives the album as if it were My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 2, and it almost works. Pusha has both the street smarts and the I.Q. to pull it off. The way the rapper draws the line from the broken Freedmen's Bureau Act to continuing African-American poverty to his own drug hustling during "40 Acres" demonstrates a deeper understanding of the drug culture than most. At least more so than that of Lil Wayne's "get money/f--k b----es" philosophy, anyway.
Pusha and West differ in that the former feels sentimental for that lifestyle, regardless of hip-hop bringing him the same riches. He admits during "Who I Am" that "I just wanna sell dope forever/I just wanna be who I am." Pusha T, for all his talent, doesn't aspire to the same prog-hop grandiosity that West does. The most organic track, "Suicide," features Pusha mixing a cocktail of cruelty and cold sincerity like few can do in honesty. A beat produced solely by Clipse-collaborator Pharrell Williams and a guest verse from old Re-Up pal Ab-Liva helps Pusha feel at home.
And King Push sells it best when he sells it raw.
He opens "Hold On" with bars dissing the rappers who fake being dealers in order to hustle records. Ironic then, when Rick Ross performs a verse during the same track. At least Ross delivers. Most guest's verses, such as those from aforementioned labelmates 2 Chainz and Big Sean, just emphasize insincerity. Even Pusha seems bored during his segments on "Let Me Love You." Kelly Rowland's syrupy, incongruous hook incites listeners to quote the rapper's favorite interjection: "yuck."
If any blame lies with West, it's with his guiding hand, not his beats. "Numbers On The Boards" pushes Pusha as it should, coupling a Bunny Sigler sample with a funky rhythm that refuses to stay on kilter. The established lyrical flow breaks down midway through the album however, and the rapper, who claims early "I don't sing hooks," finds himself and guests relying on refrains, and lackluster ones at that. The headlining verses become more and more throwaway, an infraction for which Pusha has long harassed Lil Wayne.
Pusha has suggested Pharrell Williams may produce another Clipse album in the days following the release of My Name Is My Name. If that proves false, the rapper should at least consider having Williams exclusively produce his next record.
Pusha T doesn't need help making an album. If anything, he needs less of it.