Pusha T Talks GOOD Music Album and His 'Dark, Cinematic' Solo Debut
Pusha's official solo album is expected to hit stores in October.
Although "Cruel Summer," the compilation album from Kanye West's GOOD Music label, is less than a month away from hitting stores on Aug. 7, little is known of the blockbuster hip-hop project. An official track list, music video release and any sort of performance opportunities have yet to surface -- but don't feel bad, says Pusha T, since most of the GOOD Music crew isn't aware of West's master rollout plan either.
"I'm in the dark just as much as you guys," Pusha T, who is featured on both singles released from the album, "Mercy" and "New God Flow," tells Billboard.com. "Nothing is conventional with these guys. It's to the point now, and it's so bad, because [West]'s been so unconventional… that people won't even accept conventional shit from him. I know we're not gonna start now."
A prime example of West's secrecy? GOOD Music's performance at the 2012 BET Awards on July 1, which featured a giant fake Lamborghini onstage. "I'm like, 'Yo, what are we gonna do for the BET Awards?' He goes, 'Oh, I got something.' I walk out, it's like a fucking 50-foot fucking Lamborghini!'" Pusha exclaims. "You know what he tells us? He tells us things like what color to wear. 'Hey, bring white or black.' 'Okay, what are we doing?' 'Bring white or black.'"
One thing that Pusha T is clued into, however, is the quality of the album, which will feature GOOD Music mainstays and West orchestrating the ensemble. Pusha says that a lot of the album was recorded separately, with intermittent meet-ups between all the rappers to determine which submitted verses would coalesce into songs, and which rhymes were tight enough to make the finished cut.
"I felt like nothing was forced -- things were experimental at times, and I think you're gonna see that," says Pusha. "You're gonna see the experimentation in guys like Common, who is looked at in a certain way. And it was so great to be on a record that may have a bit of a different flow than what you would know Common for… He's in there like 'This shit is hot, this shit is good, I'm getting on this!' It's so funny, because we're sitting there, dying laughing, and then it kicks in that Common is really writing his verse. Then he lays the verse. And then you realize his verse is sustained and better than yours! It's things like that that happen during those processes. It was so fun in that sense, because it was just all type of fun and surprises."
But "Cruel Summer" isn't the only meticulously planned album that Pusha T is readying. Last week, the MC put his entire debut solo album onto a physical CD for the first time since he began working on the project. It was a watershed moment for Pusha -- but it doesn't mean that the long-awaited, still-untitled album is finally complete.
"Now I'm about to take it apart, in terms of what lines are strong or not strong," says the former Clipse rapper, who released his "Fear of God" mixtape and "Fear of God II: Let Us Pray" EP last year. Although Pusha T's debut solo album is expected to be released in October, the rapper isn't speaking on any specific dates. "I have a release date in my mind that everyone knows within the label, and we're just trying to reach that," he says.
The forthcoming solo effort was executive-produced by The-Dream (who recently tapped Pusha T for his own single "Dope Bitch"), but West also played a big part in the makeup of his debut album. Pusha says that he worked on the disc with Yeezy in Paris and London, mostly in hotel rooms. "There's no such thing as a studio any longer," he says. Working with West has also opened up a new world of "opportunities and amenities" to Pusha; after all, when West calls an artist for a guest feature, that artist takes the call. "We had a conversation about artists and who I think is hot and what they could possibly bring to my project," says Pusha. "And we're starting at 12:00, and [those artists] are at the studio by 8:00! And they flew in from such and such, and so and so. I don't know if I could've made that call myself."
Aside from the guest features, Pusha T's debut full-length will include the same brooding street rap -- and intimate glances into his personal life -- that have fascinated fans since 2002's "Lord Willin'." It even, according to Pusha, is a bit similar to a certain 1997 drama starring Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino.
"It's cinematic in the sense that I wanted to make a dark album," says Pusha. "I see music in colors and try to put it in a physical perspective at times, and I saw it as like, if I had to name a movie, 'The Devil's Advocate.' You know, 'Devil's Advocate' was a very dark movie. It dealt with very dark themes, but to the naked eye, it was total beauty. You have total beauty and total greatness. You have the wizardry of Al Pacino, the beauty of Charlize Theron, at the time the go-to guy of Keanu, and at the same time it dealt with like this demonic man in [the field of] law. You would see a beautiful woman changing in front of Charlize and you'd look at her and she'd be beautiful and then there'd be a monster under her. I feel like that's what my album is."