WRAP UP!

Pusha T dis­cusses his Grammy nom­i­na­tion, Drake’s omis­sion from the best rap cat­e­gory, West’s re­cent tweets and more

The Gulf Today - Time Out - - MUSIC - With Mes­fin Fekadu

In a year where rap eas­ily dom­i­nated as mu­sic’s top genre, Pusha T’s 21-minute, seven-track “Day­tona” al­bum moved the nee­dle and be­came one of the most suc­cess­ful hip-hop projects of the year, he won his rap beef with Drake and he earned a Grammy nom­i­na­tion for best rap al­bum. As the rap star re­flects on the year, he says: “I re­ally can look back at 2018 and re­ally look at it as a to­tal win.” “I didn’t start ‘Day­tona’ to let any­body down and I feel like we deinitely ac­com­plished the mis­sion,” he added. ”‘Day­tona’ is rap al­bum of the year. No one rapped bet­ter than me in 2018.’”

Pusha T, 41, has been mak­ing bold state­ments like those since he emerged on the mu­sic scene as one-half of the duo Clipse two decades ago, earn­ing praise for his raw lyri­cal con­tent and de­liv­ery.

He reached new heights this year when he ex­posed Drake on “The Story of Adi­don” (Drake never re­sponded to the burn­ing diss track). The Kanye West­pro­duced “Day­tona” soon fol­lowed, de­but­ing at No. 3 on the pop charts and land­ing on sev­eral crit­ics’ year-end lists.

The al­bum earned a Grammy nom­i­na­tion for best rap al­bum in a highly com­pet­i­tive year, pit­ting Pusha T against Cardi B, Travis Scott, Nipsey Hus­sle and the late Mac Miller, and gar­ner­ing a nod over acts like Drake, Lil Wayne, Eminem, J. Cole, Nas, Mi­gos, DJ Khaled, Nicki Minaj and even West.

Pusha T said when the Record­ing Academy added a nom­i­na­tion re­view com­mit­tee to the rap cat­e­gory last year to serve as an ad­di­tional layer of checks and bal­ances, he felt like he had a stronger chance of get­ting a nom­i­na­tion.

“Maybe not never in my life had I ever thought about get­ting a Grammy, but I re­mem­ber hear­ing about it and say­ing, ‘Damn, man, that’s pretty dope. I can’t wait to see how that turns out,’” he said. “I was re­ally im­pressed with the ef­fort of the Grammy com­mit­tee and how they were try­ing to change the way of do­ing things. Now when I look at the nom­i­nees, man, we got a tough cat­e­gory, and all of those al­bums are al­bums that I rock with.”

In an in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press, Pusha T dis­cusses his Grammy nom­i­na­tion, Drake’s omis­sion from the best rap cat­e­gory, West’s re­cent tweets and more.

WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO SEE “DAY­TONA” UP FOR BEST RAP AL­BUM?

Man, for me the Grammy nom­i­na­tion is just the ic­ing on the cake . ... I re­mem­ber, like, be­ing young, su­per-young and look­ing at the Gram­mys, I used to never see my fa­vorite rap­pers up there... As I got older, and my fa­vorite rap­pers were be­ing nom­i­nated, they went through a whole boy­cott pe­riod. I re­mem­ber rap­pers boy­cotting the Gram­mys. Then, ul­ti­mately, time moves on and I got to see some great ones — Jay-Z, Kanye West — re­ceive a Grammy. To be nom­i­nated for what it is that I do, and what I’ve done — I’ve been very con­sis­tent for what I’ve done in the rap game — it’s amaz­ing. I don’t know if there’s ever been any rap­per who has em­bod­ied the streets so much and with this level of con­tent and this level of pure artistry (that’s been nom­i­nated for a Grammy). I don’t know. This is re­ally just the streets talk­ing right here.

WAS IT SUR­PRIS­ING TO GET A NOM­I­NA­TION BE­CAUSE THE AL­BUM IS SHORTER THAN MOST?

Some­times you have to change the sil­hou­ette. I feel like that’s what we did, we changed the sil­hou­ette. And I guess seven tracks isn’t... time-wise, it does say it’s el­i­gi­ble. I don’t think any­body left feel­ing un­fulilled. As I look at all these top 100 lists, top 50 lists, like, “Damn, ‘Day­tona’ is al­ways in the top 3, top 5, 1, here and there.” I feel like ev­ery­body was fulilled.

WHAT WERE SOME OF YOUR OTHER FAVOURITE RAP AL­BUMS THAT WERE NOT NOM­I­NATED?

I ac­tu­ally liked Jay Rock’s al­bum a lot. I prob­a­bly was on record with that one, too. He’s prob­a­bly one of the ones that I felt like re­ally put to­gether a re­ally strong pro­ject, rap-wise.

WERE YOU SUR­PRISED THAT NONE OF THE OTHER KANYE WEST-PRO­DUCED PROJECTS WERE NOM­I­NATED?

I felt like Kanye get­ting a pro­ducer of the year Grammy nom­i­na­tion is due in part to his out­put and how he had to turn into a chameleon to do all these al­bums. I deinitely felt like Teyana (Tay­lor)’s al­bum was su­per-strong and could have deinitely de­served a Grammy.

In be­ing fair, I do feel like my al­bum was the most dialed-in, and just laserdi­rect for a cat­e­gory. I feel like my al­bum re­ally hit the rap cat­e­gory di­rectly. If you look at the (Kid) Cudi pro­ject, Cudi and ‘Ye pro­ject “Kids See Ghost,” or the ’Ye (solo) pro­ject, I don’t know ex­actly. I think those two projects could have danced in a few dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories.

WERE YOU SUR­PRISED TO NOT SEE DRAKE’S AL­BUM IN BEST RAP AL­BUM?

No. I wasn’t sur­prised. I think ev­ery­body needs to stay in their re­spec­tive cat­e­gory. I don’t think me and him are in the same cat­e­gory.

WHEN YOU RE­LEASED “THE STORY OF ADI­DON,” WERE YOU AFRAID THAT IT WOULD OVER­SHADOW THE “DAY­TONA” AL­BUM?

That was a con­cern dur­ing that whole time. That was a con­cern. I al­ways felt that I had rap al­bum of the year. I al­ways knew it. That was a bit of dis­trac­tion in re­gards to me be­ing able to cam­paign that from the day that I put out the al­bum up un­til some­thing like the Gram­mys. That was a bit of a dis­trac­tion. We were sort of strate­gic about that. Very strate­gic on how we dis­cussed it and what we talked about, be­cause that wasn’t part of the al­bum. That was ex­tra credit.

HAVE YOU BEEN WORK­ING ON NEW MU­SIC?

Yeah, for sure.

HOW’S THAT GO­ING?

We’ll see in 2019.

ARE YOU WORK­ING WITH KANYE AGAIN?

For sure.

HAVE YOU TALKED TO HIM SINCE HE SENT THOSE TWEETS LAST WEEK, REIGNIT­ING HIS FEUD WITH DRAKE?

Yeah, I talked to him.

IS EV­ERY­THING COOL?

Ev­ery­thing’s beau­ti­ful.

WHEN HE SAID DRAKE BOUGHT THE FIRST TWO ROWS OF YOUR CON­CERT — WAS THAT TRUE?

Cer­tain things I’m just not go­ing to speak on be­cause that’s not part of my DNA. But, hey, Kanye’s fine, man. He’s fine. He was just talk­ing on Twit­ter, do­ing what he does.

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