“Fuck Pusha T and anybody that love him,” opener Saudi Money (formerly known as Asaad) exclaimed on stage to a crowd of hundreds. ‘Twas a windy night in Philadelphia at Union Transfer, a venue that could hold the weight of a great audience and a stage that could fit the catalog of Virginia Beach native Pusha T. A thick college crowd who came out for both acts were left both confused and distraught at the diss, but the show seemed to drift along. An energetic short set from King Mez seemed to kill a bit of the lingering tension.
When the G.O.O.D. music emcee finally did come out, the energy of his lyrics seemed to be more defined now that Asaad publicly dissed him. His on-wax strawmen now had a face, whether designed to be Saudi Money or not. “I’ve been in North Philly all got damn day,” Pusha said, nudging off the previous shot.
Whether it’s the speculation that Asaad’s done some ghostwriting (i.e. “New God Flow”) for Pusha T or a friendship that’s just gone awry is up for speculation, Pusha’s keeping it moving. His latest mixtape, Wrath Of Caine, which features tracks like “Blocka” with Travis Scott, and “Millions” with Rick Ross, finds him exploring a new sound template — the same production that he obliterated toward the latter part of 2012 with tracks like “Mercy,” and “Don’t Like (Remix).” Fans don’t seem to be too worried with the sound switch though, Pusha’s still as lyrically driven as he’s always been. After his explosive set in Philly, at Union Transfer we spoke about his history with Philadelphia, his album, and where he draws his inspiration.
Based on the drama that is tonight, I want to speak to you on your history with Philly.
Aww man, my Philly history really dates back to bout ‘97 and I met Gillie Da Kid and Ab Liva when they were dealing with Suave House and Tony Draper. At that same year I met Philly’s Most Wanted and Roscoe P. Coldchain. We were all young trying to get into the game, and from there it translated to Philly being the first place that embraced the Clipse and “Grindin’” as a record. People know that “Grindin’” was a great record, and it was, but people don’t know that it took 9 months to build that record, and Philly was just on it. It spoke to the Philly streets so quickly. It just spoke to them guys. Philly is a very extreme place, so just for that time and a record of that sound, that was saying those things, Philly really gravitated towards it.
On your track “Revolutions” off the Wrath Of Caine mixtape you speak about your history in the game and your friend Tony who’s still locked up now. You also spoke about rappers that have a ’90s aesthetic but lack the lyrical capabilities of those emcees. Speak on some of the rappers that influence you from that era.
It’s so funny because I was just talking about that today. From a rap level, I only feel like i’m taking from ’96, ’97, ‘98 and ’99. Not even 2000. I think it’s Hard Knock Life Hov, Big’s Life After Death and The Lox mixtapes.
I fuck with Hard Knock Life Hov.
That’s not even the best Hov, but that’s just where I am right now. I listen to Reasonable Doubt when I’m reflecting and just riding around. That was a time where you watched your favorite, who was the underdog, come up.
I know you’ve been influenced by Big Daddy Kane. Do you feel like he’s influenced your set?
Not really because I haven’t even perfected my set. We’re working on that now.
Who are you looking to help with developing that?
Music directors, man, and lighting people. We’re working on the set. It’s really designed for the clubs and vibing with people — Kane I was going to say, when you said who influenced me. My fashion is more influenced by ’80s and ’90s more so than things like that.
How do you keep your longevity? Do you think twice about getting on trap beats?
The key to longevity for me is just being lyrical and lyric driven. I hear people that talk about they don’t like hearing me on trap beats and things like that, but people don’t understand that I’m a person. I’m of the people.
When we talk about me on trap music — I’m on trap beats because I’m outside and I know how to find Future. I go out. I’m in the club every weekend. Whether it’s a booking or no booking I’m in the mix of the party. If that’s going on you can appreciate it. That ain’t the first time I’ve appreciated music, and people were like, “How’s he like that?” I was gone into the hyphy era and I went there to see it.
So, you weren’t hesitant to get into that?
Nah, not at all. When you see women really feeling it, when they feeling the music like that, you gotta buy it. That’s always been the fun part of my greats. When I think of Big and “Notorious Thugs” or a “Big Pimpin’” Hov.
That’s a great analogy.
That’s the fun part of what we do. It’s cool to witness someone go out of their lane. That’s just the lane today. When you hear My Name Is My Name you gon’ hear it all. You’re going to hear gospel, you’re going to hear trap, and you’re going to hear it all. You’re going to hear a bunch of variations of flows.
Who’s on production?
You’ve got Kanye West, Don Cannon, Nottz, Sham. The-Dream, who’s very key. The Dream is a teacher. You got Rico Beats, Swizz, Pharrell.
Does is still sound cohesive? These producers provide a lot of bang .
Definitely. Ah, man, that’s what I want. I want a rap album. When it comes to the album I looked at Hard Knock Life, Life After Death and Harlem World and Cuban Links.
Is that you’re favorite Biggie album? A lot of people still try to say Ready to Die was the best.
Ah, for sure. They’re lying. They’re liars. They’re all lying. [Laughs]
What’s the status of the Re-up Gang?
The Re-Up Gang is forever. It’s a crew. It’s more than just rap. It’s my brother. It’s Liva. It’s just how we see shit, and you could have all of us on three-way on Sunday morning talking about a rap battle we saw.
Philly is about that shit.
Yeah man, hell yeah. Philly is great for it. I love this place.
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