Album Review : Pusha T - Daytona (2018)
There is more to this new Pusha T record than just a Pusha T record. Daytona marks the long-awaited return to music of his producer Kanye West, who had been laying low since a very public meltdown in 2016. West has been turning the internet upside down with inflammatory statements since last April, so there was tremendous pressure on Daytona (and every other record West has scheduled for release in June) to be good. Well, rest assured. Daytona's not good, it's fucking great. It's the Pusha T album every fan's been waiting for... or almost.
Daytona is only twenty minutes long. It's an EP masquerading as a full-length album, but it doesn't feel rushed or cheap in any way. There isn't a single bad song on it. It's just banger over banger and it starts with the iconic If you know you know, which has one of the most infectious hooks on the entire thing. Kanye's throwback beat will bring you back somewhere between nineties hip-hop and the College Dropout/Graduation era; and Pusha T's lyrics about being "in the life" have the makings of an instant classic.
And If you know you know doesn't even have the best beat on the record. On The Games We Play, Pusha raps over this scorching blues guitar. The lyrics are more forgettable and lifestyle driven, but the aggressive rawness of the beat will stick with you. Same recipe for the following song Hard Piano, which is one of my favorite moments on Daytona. It's another lifestyle song, but one that focuses on accomplishments and setting high standards for yourself. And it has memorable bars such as: I won't let you ruin my dream or Harvey Weinstein the kid and such a killllleeerrr hook, it's bound to become a piece of anthology, too.
And the very best of Daytona is yet to come. Come Back Baby and especially Santeria and What Would Meek Do? are some of the best rap songs released in the last couple years alongside Kendrick Lamar and Vince Staples' material. Santeria is perhaps the crown jewel of that fire record that is Daytona. Kanye's beat is an absolute killer that turns upon its head halfway into the song and bars like: The Lord is my shepherd, I am not sheep/I am just a short stone's throw from the streets/I bring my offering, I will not preach/Awaken my demons, you can hear that man screaming would give goosebumps to just anybody seeking a bit of motivation.
I didn't even get into Pusha T's beef with Drake that Daytona's closer Infrared has reignited. While it's entertaining as hell, the album doesn't even need that extra bit of controversy in order to be memorable. Right now, if Pusha T would stop making music, it would be the project he's remembered by. This is straight out the best new rap album I've listened to since Vince Staples' Big Fish, last year. Dope beats, inspired lyrics, an absolute gangsta vibe, it doesn't get better than this in 2018. Even if this is technically Pusha T's achievement, score that as a win for Kanye West to have participated in such a sincerely brilliant project.