“DAYTONA” is the third LP from G.O.O.D Music member Pusha T. The album is only seven tracks that runs 21 minutes, and it features major names like Rick Ross and Kanye West, along with relative newcomer 070 Shake. West also produced this entire album while staying in Wyoming.
Pusha T is, to me, one of the most underrated artists working today. “Darkest Before Dawn” was a phenomenal LP that showed the intensity and grittiness that Pusha can bring to his verses, especially on tracks like “Intro” and “Untouchable”. Since that “prelude,” as Pusha described it, I have been desperately waiting for his next release, so I came in very excited for this album, as I assumed Kanye wouldn’t spend $80,000 on an album cover for something he didn’t expect to be great.
Look, before the album talk, let me just take this one paragraph to say that Pusha absolutely bodied Drake on “The Story of Adidon”. The lyrics, the investigative journalism, the album cover, just wow all across the board. Alright, now to the album.
On each of the seven songs given to us on “DAYTONA,” Pusha gives more of that dark, impressive flow that he has really mastered with his previous projects. There are clear highlights, but because this album is so tight, there really are no tracks that feel like filler, and I think that works for the project’s benefit.
Push’s flow shines the brightest on “Santeria” and “Infared,” where he switches his usual themes for deeper, even more personal issues then drug dealing. On “Santeria,” the song goes into the death of Pusha’s friend, De’Von Pickett, and the result is a brutally resonant song with fiery verses that left a major impact. The 070 Shake feature is gorgeous on the hook, and the song stands out even in an album that only features hits.
“Infared” obviously has garnered attention because it is Pusha’s less-direct attack at Drake and his ghost writing, but the song deserves all the attention it is receiving. The bars delivered here by Push are brutal and the flow is outstanding. The lyrics are clever and hard-hitting, and the track works as an excellent closer for the album.
On the reverse end, “If You Know You Know” is a great opener for the album, with Kanye bringing an insanely catchy beat, as well as a chorus by Pusha that I can’t get out of my head in all the right ways. The verses on drug dealing work well, and the song is truly one of the most infectious Pusha T has ever made.
Because such a big name in Kanye comes through with the production, Pusha could have been lost under the hype, even on his own album, but because of how strong the lyricism and the flow is on every single track, Pusha shines through the tremendous beats and finds ways to shine in every verse. “The Games We Play” is another example of Pusha bringing the explosiveness on bars describing drug deals. The beat is great, but listening to Push absolutely spit over it is what makes the track work, as he paints a descriptive picture while bringing just the right amount of emotion.
“Come Back Baby” is dark and electric with the combination of the heavy bass and Pusha’s equally demonic flow, and “What Would Meek Do?” is another solid entry, with Kanye’s flow hitting quite hard on the back half of the track.
For how tight and precise this entire project feels, it’s truly difficult to gripe on much of anything that Pusha T and Kanye bring to this project. The beats are all stunning and fit excellently with the feel of each song, and Pusha manages to dominate every song here.
Still, “Hard Piano” is the only track that had any glaring issues, even if only minor ones. The transition into this song is awkward and fails to connect, and Rick Ross’ feature in the second half of the song isn’t as strong as I would have hoped. It’s not necessarily bad, but it runs too long and never gets anywhere that exciting, and for being one of three features here, it came off as underwhelming.
Yes, at seven tracks, this LP feels like a breath of fresh air, as all the songs sound finished and ready for an album. I loved nearly every moment of “DAYTONA,” but I still think it needed to be longer. To not release anything for three years, it feels like Pusha is holding back by releasing only 21 minutes of material, especially when it is obvious that the man has immense talent.
“DAYTONA,” while definitely lacking in runtime, makes up for it with some of the most consistently great 21 minutes of music to come out in 2018. This album has 6 and a half hits and one song that is good, not great in “Hard Piano”. This is a brilliantly performed, terrifically produced album that is one of the best to be released in 2018, and it only leaves me craving more from Pusha T in the future.
Hopefully, for longer than an NBC sitcom next time.
What did you think of “DAYTONA”? Comment below with your thoughts.