In Part 2 of AllHipHop.com’s exclusive interview with Pusha T, the latest G.O.O.D. Music MC silences critics who say all his music’s about cocaine. He also sheds some light on working alongside the “brilliant” Kanye West, and gives a breakdown on some of the more poignant lines onFear of God.
AllHipHop.com: I wanted to talk a little about some of the content in Fear of God, and some of the things you talk about in your music. The d-boy theme runs real heavy – in a lot of rap – and in your lyrics. And I think I read somewhere a while back that Rhapsody or somebody called your music “coke rap.” You’ve been pretty free with that on your stuff. Do you think that parts of that game lends itself to the rap game? Do the skills transition? Pusha T: I don’t know if the two necessarily go hand-in-hand. I just know that to me, and what rap has always meant to me, rap always started out as a just a real music. The first rap records ever were talking about the streets, and life, and pain, and what was going on in the streets. Period. Like forever. I’m talking about like Grandmaster and The Furious Five and “The Message” – that’s just what it was. Period. That’s what I know rap to be, so what I give you is just what I know. People try to label it; people say it’s monotonous. But I mean, hey, it is what it is. I can’t make you listen, and I even said in “Cook It Down,” my Travel Lodge stories…you know, the cheap hotel chain? “I pray that you ignore me/if you can’t feel the pain of a hustler in his glory.” Like I don’t want you to listen. This is not for you. This music is not for you if you do not understand this. I don’t want you to listen if it’s monotonous. If that’s what it is, if it’s just “coke rap” and you don’t see anything deeper in it than that, then it’s not for you. You don’t even need to click on it –ever. Ever, and I’m not gonna lose no sleep.
AllHipHop.com: Well, knowing the way your story evolved, would you discourage other young men from going that route in life, or do you think it’s a stepping stone? Pusha T: NO, man! I think…I would never encourage anything. I don’t want to encourage anything negative or anything illegal. I can only just tell you my steps. There’s so much pain in my music that you shouldn’t even want to. There’s so much pain and so much truth within the sh*t that I say and the sh*t that I’ve said, that hey…if you can deal with it, if you feel like you cut out to be normal after five of your best friends is in jail for 30+ years…if you feel like you can deal with that, you’re good. Go ‘head. I don’t know what everybody else is cut out for. I don’t know. My story, this story isn’t just a story. I’ve given you the glory. I can tell you about, you know, cars, and I can tell you about fears. I can tell you all of that. AllHipHop.com: On Fear of God, you said “…crack killed my older brother.” So what exactly happened to him? What is that story? Pusha T: The line I just feel like, you know, I’ve been through and my family has been through that – through the crack era with my older brother…my oldest brother. My older brother is my partner. My oldest brother is who I’m speaking of. And, I think it kills your soul. The line was actually from Gator from the movie Jungle Fever: “Gator is at my mama’s house/welcome to zombie land….”Crack killed my oldest brother/call the coroner, n*gga I’ll be damned/Gator at my mama’s house/welcome to zombie land.” And if you remember who Gator was from the movie Jungle Fever, you know he would come in the house, take whatever he took. Then his mother would have the pity of all pity on him, give him the money ‘cause he needed it, and then he would go on. And I don’t know if that’s what everybody else has ever seen. I don’t know, you know, about the people that say that it’s only “coke rap” or whatever. I mean, hey, if that’s all that you get out of that line, then hey…[laughter]…that’s all you can get then. Fine. AllHipHop.com: Speaking of your soul and the title of the mixtape, do you fear God? Do you fear him with things like Japan and Libya? What does that phrase mean to you? Pusha T: Yeah, I’m definitely God-fearing. I’m definitely God-fearing. The title Fear of God, it actually…when I thought of it, I thought yo, this joint is going to be called Fear of God. That’s the type of fear I want to evoke into the competition now ‘cause I’m on my solo stride, and that’s how it started. And by the time I wrote the first four lines of the track “Blow” – that was the first record and verse I ever wrote for Fear of God – and I realized that malice wasn’t really going to be a part of this solo venture, and I felt the “fear of God.” It scared the hell out of me, actually. So that’s where like it started off being one thing, and then by the time I wrote those bars, it was like wait a a minute, hold up. You’re right, he’s not here. My manager who’s been my manager for all of these years is not here; he’s not here, he just all the way gone away…I was like wait a minute, this is a bit much. AllHipHop.com: Well, Fear of God just came out March 21, so when can people expect your first solo album with G.O.O.D. Music? Does it have a title and a release date? Pusha T: We don’t have a title or a release date. We’re hoping for the fall.
AllHipHop.com: OK, so 3rd quarter. So have you recorded any of it yet, or is it still in the conceptual stages? Pusha T: Yeah, me and Kanye have been in, and we’ve done a good five or six records, and we’ve left them alone. Then we’re gonna revisit it. We’re about to go to Chile, actually this week sometime, and we’ll probably do a show and just revisit some of the records. And then see what other inspirations we can come up with. We’re really not trying to rush it. We just want to make sure that we have the best of whatever emotion we’re trying to pull out in that particular song. AllHipHop.com: So you mentioned being in the studio with Kanye. There’s a lot of notariety around that guy. Is he crazy, is he brilliant, or is he a mixture of the two? [laughter] Pusha T: He’s brilliant. He is just a brilliant BLACK man. [laughter] I just don’t think everyone is ready for his truth. And you know, his truth is…I personally like his truth. I think everyone should be appreciative that someone tells the truth. That’s the problem. Not everybody appreciates the truth, and that’s the issue. So you know, we live in a world where we really…freedom of expression is not really as free as everyone says it is, or as it should be. That’s the only thing I see, but he’s definitely not crazy. He’s very much so brilliant, and he’s just true.
AllHipHop.com: Fair enough. [laughter] I want to ask you about something in recent Pusha T news. So recently – including on AllHipHop.com – there was a story about Consequence having words to say about you and G.O.O.D. Music. Honestly, it seemed kind of random. Is it over? Have you had any words back with him since then? Pusha T: No, I haven’t had any words back with Consequence. I never will have any words. I don’t have any words for Consequence. Like I said, I’m new over at G.O.O.D. Music. Consequence…I guess it was said that I stole something from him? I still haven’t heard what I stole yet. I don’t think anyone has. But at the end of the day, ‘Ye and them and the principal parties over at G.O.O.D. Music, they have a long-lasting relationship with him, and I’m pretty sure there’s an unconditional love, for just the history that they have, and so on and so forth. So with that being said, out of respect, it’s water under the bridge, and I don’t see it as nothing. I’d rather not acknowledge it. AllHipHop.com: That’s what it is. So now, let’s run through a few lines from tracks on Fear of God so I can get your analysis. The first one is “Fear of Myself.” Did you do that with a radio-friendly sound in mind?
Pusha T: Yeah, I thought the record was a hit. I thought The Business and Kevin ___really gave me a record that gave me enough room to say what I had to say, and still was something that could cater to some of everyone. AllHipHop.com: OK, on “Blow Funk Flex,” which is one of the freestyles, you say: “…Father knows best, wash my hands all forgiven / we kicking up dust like the Coliseum floors / walls full of safe’s like they’re mausoleum door…” To me, that sounds like asking God for forgiveness and then doing the same things over and over again. Why do we do that as people? Pusha T: I think because we make mistakes, and as a people, we don’t always just really take heed to everything that we should be doing living in this world and the realities we live in. I know damn well I shouldn’t do a lot of things, but it happens. And constantly I’m like damn, I shouldn’t of did that, but who’s to say it’s not gonna happen [again] two weeks from now? [laughter] I’m gonna say damn again, I shouldn’t of did that. It’s just the reality of people and decisions, bad decision-making, and so on and so forth. AllHipHop.com: “Can I Live,” another freestyle…you say, “…who the f**k can stop me / runaway freight train / Mike Vick redemption / big dogging like a Great Dane…” I wanted to ask sort of a related question to that, and that’s about Michael Vick… Pusha T: He’s the greatest ever who ever did it. No one is better than Michael Vick. He’s awesome, and he is the success story of a lifetime. They will never, ever in a trillion, quadrillion, cajillion years put anyone above him in the National Football League, or in any league, or anything representative of Virginia. Period. AllHipHop.com: [hilarious laughter] That was a GREAT endorsement, but now back to my actual question! Me personally, my family is in Virginia. I grew up as a kid knowing about dog fighting, but never giving it a second thought because it was just a part of the culture in that area. I think I know the answer, but do you think Michael Vick was unjustly crucified and used as a scapegoat? Pusha T: Of course he was! He was definitely unjustly crucified, and I feel like it’s horrible. I feel like he was made an example out of, and I don’t think we should ever make examples out of people. I think we should deal with them accordingly, and definitely make sure that…I mean you have to weigh the good with the bad. I mean, damn, he definitely did what he did, but I think he probably could have done more good free for those two years than he did by being locked up. AllHipHop.com: Well, like you said, he’s had a hell of a redemption story over the past year. Pusha T: Oh, for sure. Because he’s a champion, he’s a Titan. He’s like just amazing. AllHipHop.com: I think it’s safe to say we have a Vick fan in the house. [laughter]. The next one is “Raid.” You said, “…I made a power move and it’s everything it seems / before ‘Ye signed me I was getting out my dreams / standing on the shoulders of 20,000 fiends…” By 20,000 fiends, do you mean people who have gotten product from you or through people who got it from you? Meaning like drug fiends? Pusha T: I would like to say, uhhh…hmmm. I don’t know how, or if I really want to answer that. AllHipHop.com: OK, put another way, do those 20,000 fiends keep you awake at night, or do you use those experiences simply for creative fodder now? Pusha T: The thoughts of those 20,000 fiends doesn’t keep me up at night. No nights. It’s plenty of other things that and other happenings and situations from just that life that keep me up at night. But I’m just being honest, you know, just being honest. AllHipHop.com: “Speakers Going Hammer” – you mentioned that one already with Soulja Boy on it. That beat is simply vicious...a knocker. Who produced the beat? Pusha T: I don’t know who actually produced the track. I just know that the beat was crazy. And “Speakers Going Hammer”…it was just fun. Some beats just evoke…I remember like when I heard the beat, it just made me feel a certain way. That was truly like I heard the beat and said man, let me get a pen and pad to this. It was real quick. I probably could have wrote two more verses, honestly, because it really moves like that. And like I said the beat moves, and I saw it; I saw the reaction on people, and that gets you a whole ‘nother motivation. AllHipHop.com: The next one is a freestyle, “Alone In Vegas.” You say, ““…I let you into my diary to admire me / the make-up of a man, and I let you see the higher me / the self-righteous drug dealer dichotomy / I’m drawn from both sides; I am Siamese…” That sounds like a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde thing going on. What are the two sides of Pusha T? Pusha T: I mean, in a nutshell, it’s the knowing of right, and the just committing wrong acts. In a nutshell, I just feel like I know damn well what’s right and what’s wrong. And I can tell why it’s right and why it’s wrong backwards and forward. I can’t tell you all the time why some decisions get made. “Alone In Vegas” was a bit introspective. I felt like people sometimes skim through the music, and when you just skim through the music, you can only get what’s at the surface of it. You know what I’m saying? A lot of times people don’t see me for the deeper, more poignant lyrics. I talk about everything…it’s really not just drugs. It’s life.
AllHipHop.com: So, if it’s not “coke rap,” what kind of rap is it? Life rap? Pusha T: Yeah, I think it’s very much so life…100 percent. AllHipHop.com: Finally, we usually ask most of the people we interview for their Top 5 MCs, so who are Pusha T’s Top 5 MCs Dead or Alive? Pusha T: OK, in no particular order: BIG, Big Daddy Kane, Jay-Z. Uhhh.. AllHipHop.com: I know…it’s hard for everyone… Pusha T: I don’t know, man. I’m KRS-One, Rakim, Chuck D, and I’m ‘Pac in there, too, so you know…[laughter] I’m all of that. All of those guys are like all in the mix! AllHipHop.com: OK, there we have Pusha T’s Top 7, in no particular. [laughter] Thanks for your time, and best of luck with G.O.O.D. Music and everything. Oh wait, where can people find the mixtape? Pusha T: Oh right! Definitely go to www.grooveshark.com/fearofgod to download the mixtape. I want everybody to go there because a lot of people like ripped, and they put the long version in lower quality. I just want eveybody to get good quality – it’s free whereever you get it – but just get good quality. Thanks for all of the support to everyone who downloaded it. You can get an actual hard copy at any store that sells my clothing line, Play Cloths (clothes, but without the ‘e’).