8.8 – 9.1
Pusha T ‘It’s Almost Dry’ Album Review
Pusha T sells cocaine. Let’s just get this out of the way. On It’s Almost Dry, he sells coke up and down this Pharell and Kanye West production. In fact, our partners at HipHopNumbers report King Push references the euphoriant 37.9% of the album’s bars. More than 9% above the Virginia native’s silver medalist, Fear Of God II: Let Us Pray.
This is important to note: “Coke Rap”, a recent-ish media coined phrase, has degraded the value of some of rap’s most potent product (pun). At least in the minds of the outlier rap “fans”, who champion content, leaving context and complexities lying on the cutting room floor.
With that being said…
There are many layers to get to. Let’s start at production. The Ye vs P battle results in some of their best batches of beats this side of 2010. Pharell has traded in some of his “bounce” for eerie ambience: “Open Air” and “Call My Bluff” especially. Yeezy, who has a ton more collaboration in his efforts, fully fleshes out his ideas on IAD. It almost makes DAYTONA seem bare, certainly undercooked.
“Rock N Roll“, the only beat the two cheffed up as a duo, may be the best beat here. Kind of makes us rethink whether we needed more of this in their respective commercial primes. Maybe even the CRS album with Kanye, Skateboard and Lupe Fiasco.
Covered in white like Bridezilla/And never been caught/So what’s the Shiggy dance for a brick n*gga
Push has somehow found a way to be even more menacing on “Just So You Remember“. He’s quoted as saying The Joker from Batman was a huge inspiration on It’s Almost Dry; channeling even. He is literally delivering the refrain through gritted-teeth. “You Trackhawk n*ggas are not my equivalent“, Pusha belts on the track, with so much disdain for his target that you smell their stink he so much despises.
Next level storytelling adds even more points to the former G.O.O.D Music president’s already packed sliders. “Brambleton” sees detailed dealings with Anthony “Geezy” Gonzalez. “Tony” was also the motivation behind “S.N.I.T.C.H” from 2013’s My Name Is My Name. Slick wordplay has the disses partly coming in code, “N*ggas need to tone it down“, he subtly sneaks in.
Even as Jay Z spits the most “Hov” verse imaginable, “story-mode” Push possibly steals the show with “Richard Pryor’s flame gave birth to pipe dreams, now I’m here“. The legendary comedian famously set himself on fire, high from free-basing, a precursor to crack cocaine.
Speaking of which, “Diet Coke” plays more like an interlude on this 12-track outing, for four reasons. One being song structure; two being placement (feels like the end of act 1); three, production sticks out like a sore thumb (also “Hear Me Clearly“, somewhat); four being depth. The aforementioned track is the most shallow of them all. It plays more like an ad for coke than a look into the lifestyle. That alone shows how much our villain digs in for the rest of the tracklist.
On to the follies: The second interlude-esque track is “Scrape It Off“. Easily the least quality song of IAD. You can most like thank Pharell and his relationship with Lil Uzi for the hiccup, but it’s not entirely a lost cause. Lil Uzi’s verse, even with lyrics like “My buzz light like woody“, bring some much needed fun and nothingness to the darker half of the album.
Upon initial listen, “Open Air” seemed to be stale and purposeless, with its dry, drumless hook space. It’ll be a highlight by 3rd listen, trust us.
It all caps with “I Pray For You” featuring his brother and long-time Clipse rhyme-partner, Malice. We recently heard the pair via “Punch Bowl” from Nigo’s I Know Nigo! album. For most his career, Malice has a anchored Pusha T as the voice of reason. Here, Malice (noticeably dropping the No) seems to have sidestepped to his brother’s domain. Literally reminding us he’s ever-present, even in his vocal absence with “Watch my brother round you b*tches, I know he pretends… I might whisper in his ear “bury all of them”.
In conclusion, there are many elements from My Name Is My Name mixed with DAYTONA, added in with a slightly more introspective Pusha T. Quite possibly his best set of rhymes lay on It’s Almost Dry; engaging, visual & brash as ever. The “Grindin'” rapper also explores and employs more flows than ever before. Each beat unlocks a new & different pattern from Push.
The comparisons to this year’s Tana Talk 4 by Benny The Butcher, are many. TT4 also runs 12-deep and splits instrumental duty with his best collaborators, Alchemist & Daringer. Content, of course, has similarities. Some might say IAD is the album version of TT4’s more mixtape feel.
Everything is God Tier about this album, rap to production. There are levels.
The joker laugh throughout, adds context through intent. Terrence “Pusha T” Thornton loves this world. “The married drug-dealer, even named my son Brixx” lyric from “I Pray For You” says it all.