Pusha T Albums: Ranked

It seems like every year we’re met with the same discussion that questions the significance of hip-hop’s generation surfer, Pusha T. The king of Virginia Beach’s underworld has wielded a star-studded career outside of the limelight since his emergence as one-half of the infamous street-rap duo, the Clipse, terrorizing his peers with his raw dopeboy tales. However, it wouldn’t be until his resurgence following the group’s break up where Pusha T would gain notoriety as a solo act, expanding his clientele from street corner legends to art world connoisseurs.

At a time where the masses emphasizes the glamorous lifestyle of stardom, Push was reporting from the other side of the picket fence, detailing the colossal impact of the crack era on inner-city neighborhoods. While the discussions are never light on the ear, Push has been delivering candid commentary with examples from his past as an enabler. Nearly thirty years in the industry with no signs of slowing down anytime soon, today we’re sorting through the solo catalog of Pusha T, as well as the combined efforts as one-half of the Clipse in attempt to rank his best bodies of work from worst to best.

9. Til The Casket Drops (2009)

The final studio album under the Clipse name didn’t necessarily close out the combined career of the dynamic duo in a smooth manner. With [No] Malice shifting his vision away from music, Pusha was dealt with the task to fill in the gaps, at times even forcing his brother to fulfill his rap obligations. No Malice’s forgiving content heavily contrasts the dope-dealing rhymes that Push constantly wields, creating a weird dynamic within the pair’s performance throughout the record. The two just didn’t really click, which doesn’t help with minor radio reaches sprinkled in. Though it wasn’t the send-off album that we had hoped for, the production assisted with the precursor tape [Road to Til The Casket Drops] helped lay the blueprint for what would be the new generation of internet-driven artists.

Best tracks: “Popular Demand (Popeyes)”, “I’m Good”, “Kinda Like a Big Deal”

8. Fear of God II: Let Us Pray (2011)

The first sample of Pusha’s palette as a solo artist would come in the form of a righteous record concept titled Fear of God, littering the tape with a mixture of original songs and freestyles. The follow-up to his stepping stone of a mixtape would build upon the established songs and add-on a new batch of fresh tracks to continue the momentum. There were no doubts that Pusha T was a great emcee when he was rhyming alongside his lethal lyrical partner, No Malice, but this mixtape proved that Push was able to hold his own weight as solo act, tapping into another side of his sinister songwriting with hooks and structure. While it sits low on the list, Fear of God II is a great display of what a freshly independent member of a group was able to accomplish on his own.

Best tracks: “Alone in Vegas”, “Trouble on My Mind”, “What Dreams Are Made Of”

7. Wraith of Caine (2013)

The forerunner to the highly anticipated Pusha T solo album was a raw display of coke rap in its purest form. At this point, Pusha was about half a decade into his solo career; though he pledged himself to the then-highly-esteemed GOOD Music, not much of Pusha T’s independent work from the label was circulating the blogs. Wraith of Caine was his first true offering since the Fear of God compilations, but would serve as a sample leading fans into the highly anticipated My Name Is My Name debut. The coke-coveted mixtape wasn’t designed with longevity in mind, but continued to make waves as it helped keep festival stages filled with its up-tempo ensemble of production. To sum it up, the mixtape is literal audio dope.

Best tracks: “Millions”, “Take My Life”, “I Am Forgiven”

6. King Push — Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude (2015)

The newly-appointed GOOD Music president would announce his new beginnings alongside his claim to the throne. The fans championed rap’s underdog to where “King Push” chants developed into the coke rapper’s infamous mantra, repping it in any way he could. To keep the momentum flowing, Push would plan to name his next series of records after his main war cry, immediately ascending himself towards the top of hip-hop’s food chain. This prelude record would serve as his coming-out party, solidifying himself as a main piece in the GOOD Music lineage; and what better way to roll out such news with an album of his own.

Darkest Before Dawn is fine wine in album form, basking in the beauty of the moment, while dabbling in the darker side of entertainment. The soundscape is murky and rugged, tailored perfectly to Push’s drug dealing tales. A late-minute release never deals well with the end-of-year industrial fatigue, but those who go back are going to be met with a good surprise in this album.

Best tracks: “Untouchable”, “M.P.A.”, “Sunshine”, “Keep Dealing”

5. It’s Almost Dry (2022)

Following a four-year hiatus where Pusha would go on the best press run along with a series of shattering tours, the Virginia Beach vet would finally return with the follow-up to his 2018 masterpiece. Its Almost Dry adds an extra flair to the luxury coke bars that Push wields, further exploring the grandeur of the modern-day landscape. With mixed production from Kanye West and The Neptunes, the coke lines sheathe in the coating of luxury brands, adding a tang to the braggadocious bars. The album was met with immediate praise from the mainstream as they finally received the first digestible piece of street-level content wrapped up nicely with a charismatic bow on top.

For the intermediate hip-hop fan, this record is ground-breaking content, but those who dedicate their life to craft saw the cracks as Its Almost Dry attempted to fill the hefty shoes of its perfect successor and did so in a way that catered more towards the masses.

Best tracks: “Diet Coke”, “Hear Me Clearly”, “Dreamin of the Past”, “Just So You Remember”

4. My Name Is My Name (2013)

The official solo debut album in Pusha T’s catalog was swept under the rug instantaneously. Four years with no album, a barrage of mixtapes and a slew of featured verses, fans of the ex-Clipse emcee had an idea of what an unaccompanied Pusha T record would sound like ever since the gritty duo hit the scene. With a GOOD Music tenure and Kanye West partnership introducing him towards the more abstract ideals of the music world, Pusha T dove into the unknown territory that Kanye’s Yeezus attempted to conquer. Opting for an industrial-influenced taste for production, Push went in, giving up anything he could offer, from sheer rapping to sneaky chart campers to Re-Up Gang throwbacks.

While the album was well received and shook up festival stages for a few summers, it still rarely receives mentions when discussing what Push’s best project is. Clipse content and the deadliest Kendrick feature on any record to the side, Pusha T made an absolute gem with My Name Is My Name. There’s a debate to be made with how well the production has aged, but it doesn’t matter when getting to the nitty gritty of the lyrical masterclasses embedded in the record.

Best tracks: “Nosetalgia”, “Numbers on the Board”, “S.N.I.T.C.H.”, “King Push”

3. Lord Willin’ (2002)

The record that started it all – or so we think. Following a failed deal with Elektra Records in which the official debut record of the Clipse, Exclusive Audio Footage, was shelved, the duo would eventually run it back as they received their second wind, courtesy of Pharrell’s Star Trak Entertainment and Arista Records. The Neptunes would help their childhood friends carve out a sound that separated them from anything out at the time for their chance at redemption. It took a while to marinate but once Lord Willin’ caught on to the masses, it hit store shelves like the hard they was whippin’.

Virginia Beach had finally found their answer to represent the gritter parts of town, finding beauty in the murky minimalistic beats. Pusha T put on a great performance but his elder brother, Malice, would be the star of the show, effortlessly flexing his seasoned skills on the mic while his younger brother followed suit. Push, Malice and The Neptunes would craft an absolute classic with Lord Willin’, expanding the limitless talent that the Virginia Beach waters wielded.

Best tracks: “Grindin'”, “I’m Not You”, “Gangsta Lean”, “When the Last Time”, “Cot Damn”

2. DAYTONA (2018)

When Kanye announced a series of 7-track EPs to rollout as the summer rang, many doubted whether the quantity of the records would be enough. With Pusha T up at the bat first, his test run would hit it out of the park as the two delivered an eloquent display of high quality street rap. From the controversial cover to the gloomy atmosphere, Push and Ye left no room for comfort – a space where Push thrives the most. The main takeaway for many were the strings of Wayne and Drake disses, but the remaining quart of the record was Push at his lyrical best, penning anthems and affirmations simultaneously. Kanye’s experiment worked well as they two delivered a satisfying amount of content in just seven tracks.

It’s a shame that the entire Drake debacle and Kanye comments shrouded this album’s rollout but DAYTONA is easily one of the best records released over the last decade.

Best tracks: “The Games We Play”, “Come Back Baby”, “If You Know You Know”, “Infrared”, “Santeria”

1. Hell Hath No Fury (2006)

When “Grindin'” finally resonated throughout the streets, Clipse became immediate favorites, haunting lunch tables all over the nation with its contagious beat. Though the Clipse found much success with release of Lord Willin’, it was the only piece in their catalog for quite sometime – and a majority of that shine didn’t fully reflect the past and present of the two emcees. The duo still carried a dark cloud over their heads and with the new-found outlet, the two went on to craft a wonderfully dark masterpiece for their unofficial sophomore.

Hell Hath No Fury is a raw collection of the highpoints and pitfalls of the game, the grey area that rappers were scared to touch. The two got to work immediately, etching the stomping grounds of the record with a more polished sound; The Neptunes helped gloss the group’s gritty foundation, doubling down on the debut’s strengths. Tracks like “Mr. Me Too” and “Wamp Wamp (What It Do)” delivered the flashy peaks while “Nightmares” and “Momma I’m So Sorry” brought the record back to ground level in a humanizing manner. The duality of dope boy dreams to narco-ridden nightmares is consistent throughout the record, adding an edge to the record that hits like the forbidden product.

Hell Hath No Fury was the Clipse at their artistic best all across the board; even Push himself acknowledges the sheer audacity of the record, contemplating on if he’d ever reach those heights (or lows, mentally) again.

Best tracks: “Mr. Me Too”, “Nightmares”, “Ride Around Shining”, “Wamp Wamp (What It Do)”, “Keys Open Doors”, “Momma I’m So Sorry”