8 Takeaways From Pusha-T's Charlamagne tha God Interview
With new album 'It's Almost Dry' on the way, Pusha-T sat down with Charlamagne to go deep on a variety of topics, including legacy and grief.
As previously noted in recent Pusha-T coverage, fans of the consistently compelling DAYTONA crafter are very much currently in full-blown feast mode.
The It’s Almost Dry era has already given us “Diet Coke” (complete with a video co-starring the artist formerly known as Kanye West), the Jay-Z collab “Neck & Wrist,” a snow-assisted Late Show experience, an appearance on Hot Ones, and much more.
On Monday, a new interview with King Push—conducted by noted It’s Almost Dry enthusiast Charlamagne tha God—was released to immediate consumption.
Below, we’ve rounded up eight takeaways from the interview. For the full thing, which clocks in at just under 55 minutes, hit the video up top.
Time stamps: 1:29, 2:30
Both Pharrell Williams and the artist formerly known as Kanye West have been well-represented in the lead-up to It’s Almost Dry’s release. “Diet Coke,” for example, boasts production from Ye and 88-Keys, while “Neck & Wrist” was produced by Pharrell.
Asked in the new interview with Charlamagne if he could “confidently say” this album—featuring equal contributions from Ye and P—represents his “best body of work,” Push agreed that he could.
“I think so…I feel like, you know, I had the best of both worlds in regards to production and in regards to two people that actually understand who I am and they like two different things from me that I feel are both really great,” he said. “Just from that aspect, I just feel like, man, this body of work is untouchable because it doesn’t lean too heavy on either side. It’s like, you get the whole spectrum. Probably my most well-rounded body of work.”
As for why such an approach wasn’t utilized sooner, Pusha-T explained that it all came down to having the time, something the pandemic afforded him.
Time stamps: 4:52, 6:32, 8:26
A highlight of the Dry cycle has been the previously disclosed feedback Pusha-T says he received from Pharrell that, in his words, “devastated” him. As we reported here, Push received the feedback in question—namely that he sounded like “a mixtape rapper”—after hearing the I Know NIGO! track “Hear Me Clearly.”
Speaking with Charlamagne, Push said the feedback “impacted [the album] a lot” in certain ways, although—as he clarified later on—the “album’s been the album.” Pharrell, Push explained, is focused on compositional matters when working on music. “He wants steroids in every part of that composition,” he said.
From there, CTG and Pusha-T traded thoughts on how mixtape moments can have a massive impact, ultimately resulting in a “What’s wrong with being a mixtape rapper?” inquiry from the former.
“For me, it’s nothing. For Pharrell, I feel like he’s always trying to knock things out of the stratosphere,” Push said, adding later that P is “only going for what’s the biggest and the best” when in the studio.
Time stamps: 11:52, 12:57
Revered filmmaker Martin Scorsese has received some mentions amid the Dry press cycle, as well, with Pusha-T recently saying in an Interview magazine feature that he’s “trying to become the Martin Scorsese of street rap.” In Monday’s interview, Charlamagne brought up the comparison, asking if this meant that what he writes also “isn’t real” due to the fact that Scorsese largely operates in a fictional space.
“No, not at all,” Push answered. “And what I’m doing right now, I feel like, is trying to tap into more of the creativity of that. All of it comes from a real place but not everything is one for one. And I feel like we’ve gotta, as rap artists, we have to sort of get out of that too. Because I’m here to actually entertain you. I’m here to entertain you. … I want you to, like, say that I said the freshest shit ever.”
The Scorsese declaration was eventually revisited, with the aim of “gratuitous greatness” being brought into the discussion.
“You know, Scorsese does make fiction but some of it comes from a real place and some of it is just gratuitous greatness,” he explained. “I wanna be that. I’m really not here to be the realest n***a in the room right now, I mean, as far as music goes. I’m not here for that.”
Time stamps: 14:17, 18:39
Featured on the new album is a particularly personal record, tentatively titled “Brambleton,” which sees Pusha-T addressing topics close to his heart. Asked about the song on Monday, Pusha-T referenced (without naming him) a widely publicized DJ Vlad interview with former Clipse manager Anthony “Geezy” Gonzalez.
“I was hurt. I was hurt watching that,” Push said. “Like, I was hurt for a couple different reasons. I was hurt because I’m looking at somebody that I admired, you know, have, like, their name written across they hat … their at-name or whatever written across their hat. And I knew at that point like, ‘Oh, man. I don’t know who this person is no more because that’s not what we from.’ Then I was hurt because I felt like, you know, I know him very well and I know that he’s not a good speaker, he’s not a good talker, and he knows that about himself and I personally think that he didn’t even mean to put it the way that he did.”
Elsewhere, it was suggested the interview in question—which saw Geezy reflecting on a falling out with Push—was done for “attention.” Furthermore, Push explained, it was “painful to see him act like that and do that.”
As for the tentatively titled “Brambleton,” the name is taken from the street on which Pusha-T’s mother worked as a pharmacy tech.
Time stamps: 22:24, 23:33, 25:45
Featured on It’s Almost Dry is a Donny Hathaway-sampling track which Pusha-T says started out as a beat he “begged” to receive. This revelation also spurred some insight on Ye’s process when it comes to beat distribution, with Push ultimately coming to the conclusion that he could secure what later became the tentatively titled “Dreaming in the Past” by also urging Ye to add vocals of his own.
“I begged for the beat. That happens a lot,” he explained. “You know, Ye’ll have a beat and he’ll have a folder of beats and, you know, he’ll divvy out the folder accordingly. … It was just one of those ones that I just kept going back to and I was like, ‘Listen man, I need this. I need this record.’”
As for getting Ye to also be featured on the track in a performer capacity, Push revealed this took some coaxing. And more generally, while later addressing the larger process behind the album as a whole, he reflected on being “scared to death” earlier on in the pandemic while simultaneously honing in on these new songs.
Time stamps: 26:47, 27:27
After some comments from Charlamagne on how, from his perspective, younger artists may have taken a “life imitates art” approach as opposed to the other way around, Pusha-T shared his take on the key differences among different generations.
“The younger generation looks at the business as a hustle and I respect the hustle,” he said, specifically mentioning virality and other of-the-moment metrics used by many on their rise. Later, Push pointed to the fact that a large amount of younger artists are often simultaneously engaged in a variety of different mediums.
“They have so many other mediums and means to make money and be successful that we didn’t have so it’s like, you know, I don’t expect them to be as passionate. … They can do 20 things, don’t have to be masters at it, and it can work out for them,” he said. “So I respect it, I get it.”
Time stamps: 28:17, 29:14, 25:45, 30:05, 31:30, 33:04, 34:32, 36:03
Reflecting on how he’s dealt with the grief of recently losing both of his parents four months apart, Pusha-T spoke candidly and movingly about “never” being ready for that type of loss.
“I think the one thing that’s helped me deal with grief right now—my parents passed four months apart…I just know I was good with my parents, both of them, like really good,” he said. “Like, so, I grieve selfishly. I’m grieving now. But, man, it’s, um, they alright. I know it.”
When asked if his parents’ deaths changed his idea of legacy, Pusha-T confirmed they did.
“Legacy is everything right now for me,” the father of almost-2-year-old Nigel Brixx Thornton told Charlamagne after a brief pause. “Because I understand that, in their passing, you know, I have so many great things to reference and, you know, with a tainted legacy you don’t have that. I think about my son and he’s, like, he’s gonna be able to look at the legacy of his dad and be like, ‘Oh man, he was amazing.’ Because that’s my goal. Because [my parents] were amazing.”
Losing a parent, Push added, is the same as losing a superhero. “I don’t care how old they are, how sick they are. You’re never ready,” he said, later pointing out he received the news when he was on the way to record with Ye at Elon Musk’s house.
He ultimately decided not to attend on the originally scheduled date but still later spoke with Ye, who noted Push’s mother’s death aligned with the anniversary of the passing of Donda West.
Time stamps: 43:44, 53:36
Naturally, Charlamagne also had to get in some mentions of Pusha-T and No Malice’s sustaining Clipse legacy. As Push explained, his brother “is the reason I rap.” And in recent years, he’s come to realize some things about what Clipse means to people.
“I realize what I miss with him, I realize what the fan misses, I realize that there is more to the brothers when he’s next to me versus when I’m just by myself,” Push said.
Toward the end of the interview, Charlamagne hit Pusha-T with a forward-thinking question about looking ahead at making an even more personal album in the coming years. This is indeed something Push has given thought to, be it in a solo capacity or alongside No Malice, with whom he reunited in 2019 on Kanye’s Jesus Is King track “Use This Gospel.”
“Listen, I’m always shooting for a masterpiece in whichever album it would be,” he said. “I would love to do a Clipse album. … I can’t say [No Malice] is in that space. He done gave me a couple good offerings though, I will say that.”