Although he’s been in the rap game since the early '90s, Pusha T had yet to release a studio solo album. Until now. As one-half of the Clipse with his brother (now) No Malice, Push saw his popularity rise with their hit single “Grindin.”  Three albums and 16 years later, Push, real name Terrence Thornton and his brother parted ways musically to work on their solo careers. In comes Kanye West and his G.O.O.D. Music label, giving the coke-slinging rapper a home. Wearing a salmon-colored suit, Push joined his boss on stage at the 2010 MTV VMA’s in his first performance since grabbing the mic and interrupting country music’s sweetheart Taylor Swift the year before.

After a series of delays and push backs, a couple mixtapes, well turned-out bars on guest features with his G.O.O.D. music cohorts and the seemingly never-ending beef with Birdman and Lil Wayne, Pusha T drops his long-awaited, highly anticipated debut solo album. While Malice morphed into a Christian rapper, the musical Black sheep of the family continues to rap about what he knows best. My Name Is My Name is full of tales from the dope game so descriptive you wonder if Pusha T is still leading a double life.

The 12-track album opens up with the lush and triumphant horn-filled “King Push,” an anthem truly fit for rap royalty. The opening track sets the tone for the rest of MNIMN to follow. King Push is quick to claim his seat on the throne of both the rap and dope game and nobody does dope rap quite like Pusha T. On “Nosetalegia,” which features witty bars from Kendrick Lamar, Pusha T raps:

“20 plus years of selling Johnson & Johnson/ I started out as a baby-faced monster/ No wonder there’s diaper rash on my conscience/ My teething ring was numbed by the nonsense/ Gem Star razor and a dinner plate/ Arm & Hammer and a mason jar, that’s my dinner date/ Then crack the window in the kitchen, let it ventilate/ Cuz I let it sizzle on the stove like a minute steak”

Rumors of a relationship started to fly when photos surfaced of Pusha T and Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland earlier this year, and although that hasn't been confirmed, the two did hook up in the booth for “Let Me Love You.” Although he was born in the Bronx but was raised in VA, Push looked to Harlem’s Mase for inspiration and borrowed his cadence, flow and even a few lines on the bouncy shiny-suit era song:

“Hey mama, come fuck with the shotta/ With the Givenchy toppa, shoe Balenciaga/ It you act right, I can match you up proper/ If it’s about a dolla thing, big like Poppa/ Introduce your execs to my choppa/ Don’t listen to your best friend, she don’t matter/ You know she wanna be you in that vehicle/ Riding in see through V1 V2/ Chanel or Celine, however I see you/ Christians or Chloe, damn them C’s too/ You know I play fair, I’m Daddy Day Care/ I know it ain’t cheap for you to lay here”

Some of the guest features works better than others. Chris Brown provides the perfect auto-tuned voice for the soft yet deadly “Sweet Serenade.” Kings of coke Young Jeezy and Pusha T team up to trade bars on “No Regrets” with Kevin Cossom on the hook. MMG's Rick Ross helps provide hope for all those in the struggle in “Hold On.” But MNIMN falters on “Who I Am.”  Push does his best to move the song along but Big Sean and 2 Chainz both sound awkward and off-beat with their lackluster rhymes.

While Push enjoys the fruits of his labor from the dope game (“My momma brought up in the PJs/ In the club sippin P&J on the same arm as my Piaget”), he’s at his best when he delves into the darker side, like dealing with a friend turned “S.N.I.T.C.H.” in the Pharrell Williams featured song:

“Now when the phone start to click in, your words start to echo/ Say you got to hang up but the man won’t let go/ Oh, my nigga, say it ain’t so/ Now we speaking on some niggas that he say he ain’t know/ We used to steal dirt bikes, dodge raindrops/ So close niggas thought we had the same pops/ Graduated, getting money on the same blocks/ But things changed and we ain’t end up in the same box”

Pusha T declared MNIMN as the album of the year and with good reason. Kanye West handled much of the production and it shows. The dark yet lush beats provides the perfect sound for Push’s own dark and twisted fantasy. Swizz Beatz, Hudson Mohawke, No I.D., Don Cannon, 88-Keys and other producers also contributed to MNIMN, by far Pusha T’s most complete project yet. “36 years of doing dirt like it’s Earth Day” has certainly paid off for Pusha T. 

*Read all the words to My Name Is My Name at