Two and a half years later, it’s finally here. I’m assuming this is what King Push was supposed to be. As a fan, it’s hard not to be let down that after so much time, the album is only seven tracks, but I also expect nothing but the best from Pusha. We all know what we’re here for, Push’s style of rapping isn’t for the faint-hearted, so in the usual fashion, one listens, let’s hear it. DAYTONA.
Track 1 – If You Know You Know
The title screams classic Pusha to me. He starts off rapping over just a tick of a hi-hat, like a calm version of his verse on Don’t Like. I’m so ready for the bars coming my way when this beat drops, the anticipation is killing me but also wonderful. WELCOME BACK MR. WEST, the beat just dropped and Kanye absolutely murdered this production. Pusha is calmly just floating over the beat, controlling the chaos of it. This is what three years of waiting to make a great album sounds like, take notes, rappers who drop albums every six months. Bars are coming in from every angle imaginable, with a subtle, ‘if ya know you know’ by Push. Great intro.
Track 2 – The Games We Play
The beat starts off like a Sergio Leone western. I’m hooked. Is there such thing as a perfect instrumental? Push is gonna fit like a glove on this one. Again, he comes in so smooth but so hard at the same time. He’s not holding back, this is the official re-welcoming into his world. The chorus is so simple but very effective and provides a little breathing room to process before he beats you over the head with subtle references in his second verse. After every bar he gives, I find myself thinking, ‘true’ and, ‘yeah he’s right about that.’ The song is doing a perfect job at making me experience the instrumental but not distracting me from Pusha’s lyrical onslaught. It’s mixed to at. ‘Ain’t no stoppin this champagne from poppin,’ how in the world has no one said that line before? Another winner.
Track 3 – Hard Piano (feat. Rick Ross)
Who would’ve guessed it? A piano. Sounds a lot more suited to Rick Ross than Pusha. Pusha really has that Jay-Z in him, every syllable sounds like it’s the most important thing you’ll ever hear in your life. There’s a certain weight to his tone of voice and the words he’s saying. The beat is getting really repetitive though, I’m not sure how much I’ll be listening to this one again. Rick Ross, eh. Come on man, I’ve heard you do way better. Do not say you ‘keep the coldest flows’ while flowing with one of the blandest flows I’ve ever heard. Alright track. Next.
Track 4 – Come Back Baby
Oh man, this is dangerous. Starting off a song with a sample like that means Pusha is about to go off. Wait for it… Beat drop. Oh no, Push is talking like that cool uncle that you only see at family reunions because your mom doesn’t let you see him the rest of the year. The beat and flow are so simple but they just work. It’s gritty and straight to the point. The chorus just came in and made this a Sunday morning jam on the way to church. Beautiful sampling. Now back to bars. Gosh, this beat hits for being just a couple of distorted sounds. The sample comes in again for the chorus and is just as soulful as the first time. The double message behind this song demands another listen and the sample fits in perfectly with the messaging.
Track 5 – Santeria
I don’t think anyone was ready for that beat switch, and gosh, this song is moving. The first verse is just lyrical excellence, it’s like he’s having a competition with himself to see what the most fire line he can spit is. I’m gonna have to google what the refrain means, but I trust that it’s chalked full of drug references in another language. He’s just rapping over another bassline now, no drums, no nothing, just King Push telling a story. OHHHHH MAN the drums just came in and this is the riding out music to any bank heist ever. The build-up took its time and paid off. What a way to finish a track!
Track 6 – What Would Meek Do? (feat. Kanye West)
I feel like I’ve heard this sample before but I can’t pinpoint where. Building up to be one of the scariest beat drops of all time. Push entered with so much energy and momentum and has me standing by the second line. This beat is nastier than a Kyrie Irving crossover, sheesh Ye. Love the ‘devil on my shoulder what would Meek do?’ This is the official ‘for the whip’ song on the album. Okay Kanye, your turn. HAHAHAHA the scoops and whoops will never stop, that’s great, no entrance to a rap song has ever made me laugh harder. Kanye also comes in with momentum too, this is a lot better than his verse on Watch. He’s flowing perfectly over this, sounding like a villain, like the Joker just broke out of Arkham Asylum. Great Kanye verse. Welcome back.
Track 7 – Infrared
This is a lot like Sunshine, the outro to Darkest Before The Dawn. Uh oh, he’s going at someone, a couple pen bars, goes at Trump, uh oh. He went for Drake, is anyone ever going to forgive Drake for the ghostwriter stuff? I don’t think it should define his career, the diss feels a little late and overblown too. Push better be ready for some smoke though, this could be the beef hip-hop fans deserve. He just intentionally left Drake out of the Cole and Kendrick line. Is there going to be an album this year without some type of Drizzy influence on it in one way or another? Anyways, does Tom Brady ever scramble? I’m questioning the validity of that bar. Lyrically this track is awesome, but I’m not really with the beat, there’s not enough momentum or interest to make it a great lyrical track, something like Family Feud. Solid closer to a great album.
For a seven-track album, there is plenty to digest in DAYTONA. King Push is at his best lyrically and floats over beats with his commanding flow. That being said, it is only seven tracks, leaving much to be desired, but as I can only make a verdict on what is presented here, I’m thoroughly satisfied. Songs like The Games We Play and Come Back Baby are going to be ringing through my ears all summer, the whole album is demanding multiple re-listens.