First Impressions of Pusha-T's New Album 'It's Almost Dry'

Pusha-T's new album 'It's Almost Dry' has finally arrived. What's the best song? Biggest skip? Best & worst things about it? Here's our first impressions review

Pusha T 'It's Almost Dry' first impressions review

Image via YouTube/Pusha T

Pusha T 'It's Almost Dry' first impressions review

The last time Pusha-T dropped a full-length project, Complex named him the Best Rapper Alive, and ranked it as the No. 1 album of the year.

How do you top that? Well, Push believes he has. Last month, he told us that his follow-up, It’s Almost Dry, is even better than 2018’s DAYTONA. “It’s more well-rounded,” he argued. “It’s more colorful. I think DAYTONA was solid. It’s that thing, and I gave you that thing. I feel like this one is more well-rounded, with the same amount of greatness, but the bars are better and I push myself as a songwriter.”

So, was it all talk? Or was Push telling the truth and this album really is better than DAYTONA? Members of the Complex Music team—Andre Gee, Jessica McKinney, and Jordan Rose—shared their first impressions after giving this thing a few spins.

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Andre: “I Pray For You.” The organs give this track an urgency that had been missing for me throughout the album. Push kicked in the door, and Malice followed up with a dense, wide-ranging verse that shows he has a lot on his mind. I hope Push’s “sidestep back into the duo” line is a harbinger of new Clipse—or, excuse me—new Pusha-T and Malice music.

Jordan: It’s a tie between “Rock N Roll” and “I Pray For You.” The Beyonce “1+1” flip on “Rock N Roll” is insane, and Cudi’s verse elevates it to another level. If this is really the last time Cudi and Ye will ever work together, at least they ended on a high note. Then there’s “I Pray For You,” which is beautiful—a perfect outro to a masterclass album. 

Jessica: I keep coming back to “Brambleton,” “Let the Smokers Shine the Coupes,” and “Just So You Remember.” The first two are catchy and hypnotic, whereas Push shows more of his technical skill on “Just So You Remember.”

Andre: No skips for me. Every song is at least a strong 8/10 for me. Pusha is a 20+ year rap vet who knows who he is and what he does, and there’s no way he’s going to give clunkers on a 12-song album.

Jordan: There really aren’t any songs that I need to skip. The only track that feels a little out of place, in the context of the rest of the album, was “Scrape It Off The Top,” and only because it didn’t sound as menacing as the others. Besides that, the sequencing of It’s Almost Dry is perfect, and there are no clear outliers.

Jessica: Honestly, no skips.

Andre: I love the synergy between Pharrell, Kanye, and the other producers, in terms of providing minimalist beats that exude different moods but allow Push’s lyrics to dominate. When I think about Pusha-T music, I think about execution. He doesn’t waste a bar, and the producers match him by walking a tightrope of meshing subtle elements that give the beats character without overdoing it. I think about the damn-near industrial bass on “Just So You Remember,” or the shrieks on “Call My Bluff.” Every instrumental choice has a purpose, just like every bar pushes the verses forward. 

Jordan: It’s Almost Dry has the best combination of rapping and production on any album this year. Nothing about it sounds lazy or phoned in. Pusha-T came through with masterful brick bars, and Pharrell and Ye were really digging through crates with the wild samples they used. There are songs on here that I go back to for the beat, and then discover a new clever analogy Push used. Conversely, there are others that I return to for the rhymes, and then appreciate how hard the production is even more.

Jessica: Pharrell’s production is a major highlight. You can clearly hear his influence on the sound. Push always raps at a very high level, but Pharrell’s production really strengthened the album overall for me.

Andre: Push is really good at steely menace, playful flows, and slick talk, but I feel like he leaned on it too much here. I get the feeling he was trying to convey (that rapping is too easy for him) but I would’ve enjoyed two or three more verses with the passion of “I Pray For You.” He sounded like he was trying to prove something there. 

Jordan: I can’t find any glaring issues with this album. Even though Push is always labeled as a “coke rapper,” he’s able to keep the coke bars fresh, but also diversifies his subject matter a little. It’s Almost Dry dives into themes of legacy, revenge, reconciliation, and so much more than its clever drug references.

Jessica: Nothing sticks out. 

Andre: Malice on “I Pray For You.” His verse reminded me of Lauryn Hill on “Nobody.” He had a lot to get off his chest. Also, “I greet you with the love of God, that don’t make us friends” is gospel. Push has built himself up well as a soloist, but it’s cool to get a reminder of where he comes from. The dynamic is almost like watching a TV show about someone kicking ass, then in the season finale, his brother—equipped with a fresh, sharper sword—steps in and helps him with the final mission.

Jordan: Kanye’s verse on “Dreamin of the Past” sounds like it was pulled out of a time capsule. Everything from the sample to the flow and cadence was reminiscent of something you’d hear on one of his first three albums, and it was refreshing to know that Ye can still rap like that. 

Jessica: It’s a tie between Kid Cudi and Kanye on “Rock N Roll.” I love that both Cudi and Ye took the melodic route (you can’t go wrong with Cudi’s drawn-out hums). Ye’s singing comes as a nice contrast to the texture of Pusha-T’s raps, too. It’s a shame that Cudi will no longer be making music with Ye following their public feud, because whenever they get on a song together, it’s usually great. 

Andre: The best word to describe this album, from Push’s magisterial demeanor to the production, is exquisite. It’s like he vied to create coke raps for fashion shows and art gallery openings. Given his circle, that may be exactly it. Nothing here blew me away on first listen quite like “Games We Play,” but that’s a hard standard to reach anyway. It’s Almost Dry is another testament to knowing yourself, knowing your audience, and executing. 

What people don’t understand with their cries of redundancy is that an artist can have the same core theme over the course of a project, as long as the production is varied. Push collaborated with some genius producers to craft the soundscape he needed in order to give you different sides of the coke game. There’s the in-the-kitchen perspective, the boss perspective, the flashiness, and then the meta lyrics about where he stands in the rap game (“award shows the only way you bitches could rob me”). 

Jordan: It’s Almost Dry is the perfect successor to DAYTONA. Even though it’s five songs longer, every track was made with a purpose, and it feels equally concise. Push is the king of coke rap, but this album is so much more than just another project filled with drug bars and Tony Montana references. He also dives deep on themes of legacy and how deeply he cares about his family and inner circle. With the help of Ye and Pharrell, even the worst song on It’s Almost Dry sounds like it could be playing in the lobby of the Louvre—every beat sounds expensive and every verse toiled over in the midnight hour to the backdrop of Arthur Fleck’s maniacal laugh.

Push is not only the best at his brand of rap, he’s also inventing new and innovative ways to talk about a generally repetitive topic (“Belong on Rushmore just from chiseling the brick”). It’s Almost Dry makes it clear that Pusha-T is becoming less concerned with rap beef. There are several moments on the album where he could have slipped in a slick, specific jab at one of his rap retractors, but he chose to keep everything vague. Thus, It’s Almost Dry beautifully reflects Push’s life and his mental state right now.

Jessica: It’s still a little early, but It’s Almost Dry is at the top of my list for album of the year right now. There are still a lot of big projects on the way, but I don’t see many of them competing with this. At 12 tracks, it’s the perfect length and flows effortlessly from one to the next. The production, particularly Pharrell’s contribution, is phenomenal, and it all ties the album together really well. This is easily Pusha-T’s most accessible album, and despite its coke rap themes, there are records that will make all types of hip-hop fans happy. Push promised us greatness and delivered just that.

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