Pusha T asserts self in new album

Pusha T wants you to know his power.

The VA rapper’s been shouting praises onto himself since Clipse’ breakthrough album “Lord Willin” (2003).

He’s not off – together with brother No Malice, Pusha set the standard for ‘00s coke rap with Clipse’s “Hell Hath No Fury” (2006), high-art against a rushing wave of dance crazes.

“My Name is My Name” aims to prove Pusha can deliver that same artful hip-hop on
his own.

The highs are high here.

Pusha has been rapping with an increasing passion since his solo jaunt at his former mystique, we’re left with some great performances.

“Numbers on the Board” and “Nosetalgia” featuring a shimmering-through-the-earbuds Kendrick Lamar catch Pusha at his best, spitting raw over wonky production.

Wonky beats have always been Pusha’s best friend, adding warmth and color to make his vocals sound even colder.

Old friend and producer Pharrell is responsible for the space western funk on “Suicide” and “S.N.I.T.C.H,” while “Hold On” has vitamin water synths courtesy of Hudson Mohawke.

Pusha’s long promised quality on this album.

Quality isn’t the issue, it’s ideas.

Marketing oneself as a “student of rap” is one thing, but there’s also the challenge of going against the grain.

“My Name is My Name” sounds almost too studied at times.

Songs like “Let Me Love You” and “40 Acres” hit the right notes so to speak, but lack the urgency to be memorable.

“Sweet Serenade” features a bland hook from an increasingly boring Chris Brown.
Features here are fine otherwise, although another “look at me freeform” verse from

Big Sean will earn a wince or two.

Pusha is an exceptional writer who delivers OK to good solo albums.

Perhaps he’s trying too hard to live up to predecessors instead of looking within, or maybe art director Kanye West should encourage him to be bolder.

Maybe one day Pusha will be as unhinged and striking as his album cover suggests, but meat-and-potatoes Pusha is cool, too.

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