Pusha T – Coming of Age
For Pusha T, music has been a family affair. Whether be it with his brother Malice, the Re-Up Gang or Kanye West and the G.O.O.D. Music collective, the world has never really got to know the private side of Terrence Thornton. The rapper has been on a solo path lately with his much-celebrated Fear of God mixtape and the sophomore EP effort Fear Of God II: Let Us Pray. We sat down with the Virginia native and took a closer look at his solo endeavor while talking about his album, the G.O.O.D. Music album, the fall of Jive Records, and more.
You just released Fear Of God II: Let Us Pray. Where do you see its conceptual difference compared to the Fear of God mixtape?
Conceptually it's not really that much of a difference. It's more of an extension of the first Fear Of God, which was released as a mixtape. Basically, the progression of the music and everything that comes with it lead to the creation of FOG II – an all out project really.
You referred to the piece as your "coming of age" party. Could you expand a little bit on that?
I feel like, when I said "coming of age," I meant me coming through alone as a solo artist. Having been in a group, all of the duties were split between my brother and I. I was always the more brash and arrogant one, whereas he had always played the more introspective, more thought-provoking role. This go round, it's me showcasing my take on everything, my perspective and me carrying the entire load.
Could you tell us a little bit about the featured artists on your project and the producers? How did these collaborations come about?
Ahhh man, I've got Ab Liva and Ross on a record. So many great names that are featured on here. People like Kanye, Jeezy, Tyler, the Creator, 50, Kevin Cossom, Pharrell, Juicy J, Meek Mill and French Montana. As far as the production is concerned, I've got people like Tha Bizness, Hit-Boy, The Neptunes, Nottz, Lee Major of The Inkredibles, and Bangladesh among others. I did the features because it was something I never really did with a Clipse project. We never did a lot of features. I figured with me coming out solo, the fans need to know I too have alliances and that I can pull together the greats and relevant alike and put them all on my project. I feel the fans also need to know that some of their favorites have mutual respects for one another.
How closely have you worked with the G.O.O.D. Music team (artist, promotional team, engineers etc.) on this one? Is it more of a family effort?
On both FOG and FOG II, I got contributions from 'Ye (of course on "Amen"). Some of the records were actually done in Abu Dhabi while working on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. So yeah, the G.O.O.D Music engineers were used as well. On some records, you can hear me shout out those who were included in various parts of the process. The FOG projects reflect my thoughts and realize my visions. I A&R'ed this entire thing along with Ab Liva. This is more street music, it wasn't really a traditional G.O.O.D Music project per se.
What can the world expect from the announced G.O.O.D. Music album?
Ahhh man, it's crazy because I still get excited from working with the whole G.O.O.D Music gang. People are going to hear all of the best raps they've heard all year. We are really having fun with this, but everything's not finished yet. I've done four records thus far, hoping to do more. But as of now, it's still early, so I'm not sure of what's being kept to be honest. Everyone from CyHi to 'Ye to Sean to Cudi to Common and so forth, we're all just focused on bringing our "A" game to the table and really constructing a collaborative masterpiece.
Any words/thoughts for your former label Jive that has been shut down recently? And how would you comment their development?
Me and Malice's situation with Jive was a definite low point in my career. However, I think people get it a little confused and they take it a little overboard. In regards to them closing, well, just because they shut down doesn't mean it's the end of it all. These label closings/mergers happen all the time and then they're appear. Looking at that particular aspect, it's really not a big deal nowadays, not to me. But these are still people's jobs, people's lives that are affected. It's really nothing for me to smile about. Realistically, any label can succumb to such circumstances. We watch it happen all the time.
Definitely agreed on that. The Re-Up Gang is comprised of yourself, Malice and Ab-Liva. Since you and your brother are bringing forth respective solo albums, when will Ab-Liva release his next projects? Is there also another official Re-Up Gang compilation on the horizon?
Of course. Collectively we're currently working on Long Live the 'Caine, sticking true to the Re-Up Gang mixture, sticking to the formula. We're really trying to make sure Liva remains true to everything he brings to the table, which is really lyric-driven hip-hop. This is for the fine wine of people who love rap. It just has to be put together properly. You've heard freestyles from him like "She Will," etc. It's just us prepping the world. He'll definitely be dropping his own tape soon though. You can count on the true essence of hip-hop when it comes to him and it's really street too.
Since you are on a solo path, how has the dynamics of the relationship between you and Malice changed? When is the Clipse reunion taking place?
We talk about that a lot actually and how we're going to do it. There will definitely be another LP. The dynamic of our relationship hasn't changed, other than us physically being together. In fact, he hit me up this morning, reminding me of how blessed I am, and how he liked my spot on How to Make it in America. But when I'm home, we work out together at the same gym, so not much has really changed. He's incredibly busy himself, promoting his book entitled Wretched, Pitiful, Poor, Blind and Naked.
You recently relaunched your own website. What can your fans expect from this platform?
It's just an informative site in regards to everything I have going on now. When it's all said and done it'll be a one-stop shop in regards to Pusha T, Re-Up Gang and all Re-Up affiliated artists, etc. I want to organize it up for the fans. That was a problem for them at times, finding the music. So this is a platform where everything can be arranged properly, and archived – from music to videos to interviews, etc. I want everyone to be able to stamp this time in my career.
You recently did a freestyle over A$AP Rocky's "Peso." The industry would more than embrace a collaboration between you guys. Any chances that this will happen one day?
I talked to A$AP last week and we're supposed to put some things together. I love the "Pesos" record and what he's doing right now. I feel like when I do these freestyles, it's one of those things where you're so much of a fan of the record you want people to see that you're in the know. I'm more so paying homage to a great situation and a great song. Personally with me, its not about taking, flipping and taking over a song.
Could you give us an update on the current status of your fashion brand Play Cloths? It has seemed that it enjoyed a fair amount of love among fans and critics likewise. Any hints of what we can expect from the upcoming collection?
Yeah, Play Cloths is in its third year. Our third anniversary is this December so everything is going great! You have to remember, this is a brand that started from just an idea, brainstorming with my partner Doug and just so happened that a local fashion house allowed us to build with their designer(s). Now we're three years in, and looking to be around for 30 more, becoming a household name.
Fear of God II: Let Us Pray is out now via G.O.O.D. Music/Decon/Re-Up Gang.
Photography: Corey Kamenoff/Hypetrak, Mike Coppola/Getty Images