Photo Credit: Victor Boyko
5 Takeaways From Pusha T’s New Album ‘It’s Almost Dry’
The Dr. Seuss of Dope gives rap fans much to ingest on his masterpiece fourth album
You couldn’t escape the hype train around Pusha T’s fourth album, It’s Almost Dry, released on April 22. Few artists have the power to make click-and-scrollers slow down long enough to give a new release the attention it deserves.
But the Picasso of the Pyrex, King Push, has an effect on hip-hop unlike anyone before him or to come after.
As one-half of the rap duo the Clipse, he and No Malice set the standard for how "coke raps" were delivered from state to state. Push then upped the ante as a solo artist and president of Ye’s G.O.O.D. Music imprint, servicing audiophiles and rap fiends with vivid, luxe-infused bars that had internet sleuths searching for the origins of his Lanvin-laced lyrics.
Few rappers are operating at a competitive level this far into their careers, placing Pusha T — already one of the game’s most legendary wordsmiths — into rarefied air. Authentic in the streets and history-making when it comes to pop culture and the charts, Pusha T gets the GRAMMY.com examination, as we dive into the key takeaways from It’s Almost Dry.
1. The Holy Triumvirate of Pusha-Ye-Pharrell Is a Full Circle Moment
There may be no other artist outside of Jay Z that connects with Pharrell Williams and Kanye West quite like Pusha T. After hearing him on Nigo’s "Hear Me Clearly" record, Virginia P famously challenged Push to "not become a mixtape rapper for the rest of his life." The gauntlet was officially thrown down between the two megaproducers.
Armed with the clout (and a decades-long history of collaboration), Pusha T convinced Pharrell and Kanye to produce an entire album for him. The resulting It’s Almost Dry highlights the best, and varied, things each beatsmith wanted from Push.
"[Kanye] only wants bars, all day, all night — he wants a thousand of them," Push explained in a sit-down with High Snobiety. "Pharrell wants to sit there with me. He uses the term ‘composition’ a lot [...] and it made for such a colorful, well-rounded album because I took both of them and did what they asked of me. And it just works."
The energy between the three parties fuels It’s Almost Dry to go further than they’ve ever gone before, possibly making one of the best rap albums of the year.
2. There’s No ‘Yuugh!’ Anywhere
Adlibs have been a staple in rap, but the last decade has seen them turn into a calling card from those who reign in the upper echelon of hip-hop. Pusha T's "yuugh" has been something that, whenever dropped on a track, signifies that he meant that s</em><em>t. Audiences have come to love and appreciate his signature yuugh, but will be surprised to learn that it doesn’t appear anywhere on It’s Almost Dry.
You can only say the type of s<em></em>t Pusha T says when you’ve achieved a certain level of success. King Push, he’s more than earned the right to deliver the product how he best sees fit, yuugh!
3. Ye Continues To Explore Family Issues
Listening to It’s Almost Dry can put someone in a fever dream, yet thankfully, Ye (the artist formerly known as Kanye West) tempers the barbiturate bars with some sobering thoughts. For example, "Dreamin Of The Past" — which takes its title from John Lennon’s "Jealous Guy," by way of a sample of Donny Hathaway's version of the song — finds Yeezy in reflection mode, closing the track with some family-centered ponderings.
"Born in the manger, the son of a stranger/When daddy’s not home, the family’s in danger," he raps. On "Rock N Roll" (which also marks the final collaboration between Ye and Kid Cudi), the former references his late mother, Donda West ("Love my mama but sometimes dad was right/Take his hand, hold on with all of your might"), not wanting to argue with his ex-wife and wanting a Bel-Air-styled mansion ("I used to watch the ‘Fresh Prince’ and pray the house would be mine/Could have bought it but I ain’t like the way the kitchen [was] designed").
Ye has remained publicly silent after being suspended from Instagram, so getting this brief look at what's on his mind through It’s Almost Dry is interesting.
4. "Neck & Wrist" Finds Jay-Z In Take-On-All-Comers Mode
Who else but Hov should you call when you want to talk that ultra-braggart talk? On "Neck & Wrist," the second collaboration between Pusha T and Jay Z, the latter is in his bag and talking spicy towards any enemigo — real or imaginary. The Pharrell-laced beat finds Marcy Jay opening the verse by addressing comedian Faizon Love and the comments he made on Vlad TV.
"The phase I’m on, love, I wouldn’t believe it either/I’d be like, ‘Jay-Z’s a cheat,’ I wouldn’t listen to reason either," he raps. Jay Z goes into his bag for this clever homophone of sorts, turning the joke onto the jokester while emphasizing how his real life is far from fiction.
Whether it was highlighting how The Commission would’ve run rap had the Notorious B.I.G. survived, or serving up his famed triple-entendre references, "Neck & Wrist" is a great example of It’s Almost Dry's dynamic coke raps<em>.</em>
5. Pusha T is Hip-Hop’s Drug Dealing Larry David
To quote Rolling Stones’ Will Dukes, "Pusha T is to coke references what Larry David is to absurd social situations." Pharrell’s honest diss as a friend may have inspired Push to make It’s Almost Dry into a rap cinematic tour de force, but the 44-year-old MC has always been a lyrical Martin Scorsese.
Push consistently and creatively delivers new and interesting ways to invoke drug dealing staples. Self-described as "Cocaine’s Dr. Seuss," Push evokes humor, menace, thrills, and pathos into It’s Almost Dry and proves he’s one of the main reasons why coke rap — as a subgenre — exists in the first place.
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
DJ Khaled Brings "God Did" To Life Alongside Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, John Legend, & Fridayy | 2023 GRAMMYs
Music's Biggest Night wrapped up in star-studded fashion thanks to DJ Khaled, who joined his "GOD DID" collaborators Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, John Legend, Jay-Z and Fridayy for an epic show-closing performance.
Spilling into the street outside L.A.'s Crypto.com Arena, the assembled MCs and singers spit their verses and sang their hooks awash in purple light, with Legend seated behind a piano covered in flowers while the rest sat at an opulent, overflowing table in the style of the Last Supper.
"They didn't want us to win! So I made sure I was on the GRAMMYs stage with the biggest! This is for hip-hop!" Khaled shouted in between verses by Ross and Lil Wayne. And later, Jay-Z stole the spotlight as he testified, "These ain't songs, these is hymns 'cause I'm him/ It's the Psalm 151, this New Testament/ The book of Hov/ Jesus turned water to wine/ For Hove, it just took a stove."
The praiseworthy banger raked in three nominations at this year's awards show, including Song Of The Year, Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance. The album GOD DID was up for Best Rap Album.
The superproducer scored a sixth nomination in the Best Melodic Rap Performance category for "BEAUTIFUL," the Future and SZA-assisted album cut off GOD DID. He nabbed an additional nomination as a guest artist on Mary J. Blige's Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe), which is nominated for Album Of The Year.
Over the course of 2022, GOD DID earned Khaled his seventh career Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 thanks to lead single "Staying Alive" featuring Drake and Lil Baby. It also became his fourth chart-topping album on the Billboard 200.
Photos Courtesy of the Artists
DJ Khaled To Perform “God Did” At 2023 GRAMMYs With Musical Collaborators Fridayy, Jay-Z, John Legend, Lil Wayne, And Rick Ross
The GRAMMY-nominated performer will perform at Music’s Biggest Night broadcast live from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles Sunday, Feb. 5.
GRAMMY-nominee DJ Khaled is set to appear on the 2023 GRAMMYs telecast with his musical collaborators Fridayy, Jay-Z, John Legend, Lil Wayne, and Rick Ross to perform “God Did”, his track nominated for this year’s Song Of The Year.
DJ Khaled is nominated for six GRAMMY Awards this year, with five of those nominations for “God Did” including, Song Of The Year ("God Did"), Album Of The Year (God Did), Best Rap Song ("God Did"), Best Rap Album (God Did), Best Rap Performance (“God Did”), and Best Melodic Rap Performance ("Beautiful").
Music’s Biggest Night will be broadcast live from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles Sunday, Feb. 5 (8:00 - 11:30 PM, live ET/5:00 - 8:30 PM, live PT). It will air on the CBS Television Network, stream live and on demand on Paramount+.
Before, during and after the 2023 GRAMMYs, head to live.GRAMMY.com for exclusive, never-before-seen content, including red carpet interviews, behind-the-scenes content, the full livestream of the 2023 GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony, and much more.
Photos: (L to R): Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc; Ethan Miller/Getty Images; KMazur/WireImage; Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Songbook: How Mary J. Blige Became The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul Through Empathy, Attitude And An Open Heart
With 14 albums and nine GRAMMYs under her belt, Mary J. Blige puts no limitations on the music she creates. Explore her extensive catalog of hits, soundtrack favorites, stunning covers and impactful remixes.
Mary J. Blige’s tireless work ethic, extraordinary singing talent and soul-level relatability are the secret ingredients to her longevity as a recording artist. Her discography includes nine GRAMMY wins and 37 nominations, and the multi-hyphenate artist continues to demonstrate that there's no limit to her creativity.
Blige is nominated for six awards at the 2023 GRAMMYs, including Album Of The Year and Best R&B Album for Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe). The title track is nominated in three categories: Record Of The Year, Best Traditional R&B Performance and Best R&B Song, and "Here With Me" is up for Best R&B Performance.
Good Morning Gorgeous encapsulates the true self-love Blige felt after healing from divorce, abusive relationships and depression. As she explains on an album interlude "good morning gorgeous" is the affirmation Blige now says to herself in the mornings — and, for the first time, she believes it. And when it comes to the odds of adding to her GRAMMY wins on Feb. 5, it’s safe to wager that Blige thinks they’re sound.
"Bet on me, why not?" Blige sings in the chorus of the album’s "On Top." "Don’t act like I never left on top."
For her resonant musical messages, Blige has been crowned the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul. But she’s also an industry professional who deftly sets and iterates on trends, keeping even her earliest releases relevant and exciting.
Blige became a record label boss when she released Good Morning Gorgeous as a joint venture between Lyor Cohen’s 300 Entertainment and her own Mary Jane Productions. She’s a frequent executive producer of her albums and multimedia projects and is set to executive produce two fictional films for Lifetime in 2023 through her production company Blue Butterfly. Real Love and Strength of a Woman are both named for her songs. Real Love is described as a romantic drama set in an upstate New York college.
After more than 30 years of recording, Blige has amassed an acclaimed and extensive discography of consummate original classics, deep soundtrack cuts, scene-stealing covers and remixes. Press play on the Amazon Music playlist above and use the below guide as a diving board into a career full of the empathetic pain, healing, promise and happiness that she has shared with unflinching honesty and vulnerability.
The Queen Of Hip-Hop Soul
Blige was living in a housing project in Yonkers, N.Y. when the late Andre Harrell signed her to his Uptown Records, which released her 1992 debut album, What’s The 411? Harrell coined the nickname Queen of Hip-Hop Soul to describe the fresh way Blige's music melded rap beats with R&B hooks.
Harrell and his then-intern Sean Combs gave her a rugged style to match her music, with boots and baseball caps instead of heels and sparkles. Young women from the inner city saw themselves in Blige's aesthetic and in her rawness.
Yet admiration for Blige’s powerful vocals and unique tone grew before her name was ever recognized. Blige was first heard as a backup singer for Father MC’s 1990 hit "I'll Do 4 U" and, the following year, her own single "You Remind Me" (from the Strictly Business soundtrack) gave Blige some street buzz to lead into What’s The 411? The hip-hop swagger of "Real Love" — which samples "Top Billin'" by Audio Two, a beat highly familiar to New York City fans at the time — served as her formal introduction to the world and remains a calling card decades later.
The My Life Era (Extended Mix)
Contrary to the music industry’s sophomore slump stereotype, Blige’s second album is a seminal work. 1994's My Life became career-defining, and an album that she has subsequently reflected on to show her growth.
The album is a reflection of her volatile relationship with singer Cedric "K-Ci" Hailey, Blige explained in Mary J. Blige’s My Life, a documentary she executive produced for Amazon Studios in honor of the album’s 25th anniversary. Throughout, Blige keenly pairs heights of happiness with depths of her despair on songs like "You Bring Me Joy," "I’m Goin’ Down," "I Love You" and "Be Happy."
"The whole 'My Life' album is, 'Please love me, don’t go, I need you,'" she said in the documentary. Combs, then known as Puffy, continued: "When she made that album, she was fighting for her heart." (Combs and Harrell served as executive producers of My Life.)
Blige and Combs never collaborated quite so closely again, though they remained friends. Combs didn’t produce 2011’s My Life II… The Journey Continues (Act 1), but he appears in a telephone skit to open the album, similarly to how he did on My Life. The sequel features guest stars such as Nas, Beyoncé and Drake.
Though her earlier works hinted at the potential, My Life most firmly established Blige as a beacon for hurt hearts everywhere. In a 2021 interview with Trevor Noah, Blige described how childhood physical and mental abuse, as well as her relationship with Hailey, led to substance abuse and depression. When she used the songs on My Life as a way of saying she needed help, "four million people responded and said, ‘'We need help, too.'"
Covers, Collaborations And Remixes
Cover songs have been an acclaimed — and long-lasting — part of Blige’s career ever since she sang "Sweet Thing" by Rufus featuring Chaka Khan on What’s The 411? Blige released her hugely popular version of Rose Royce’s "I’m Goin’ Down" in 1994, which reached No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100, and she beat Beyoncé to the punch in 2000 with her take on Maze’s "Before I Let Go."
But her ascension to rock star status has a lot to do with her scene-stealing covers of songs of stadium-level acts. Blige has delivered epic versions of songs by Led Zeppelin ("Stairway To Heaven") and Sting ("Whenever I Say Your Name"), and when she collaborated with U2 on a new version of "One," there’s an audible battle with Bono as to whose song this is now.
Blige collaborates with rap, R&B, rock, country, electronic and classical artists with equal ease, and her discography includes work with late legends, including "Holdin’ On" with Aretha Franklin and a cover of Stevie Wonder’s "As" with George Michael. She won her first career GRAMMY in 1995 for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group for "I'll Be There For You / You're All I Need To Get By," a collaboration with Method Man that covers Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.
A dance music collaboration with London duo Disclosure called "F for You" in 2013 helped to catalyze an entire album from the Capital of England called The London Sessions. The 2014 album features a second collaboration with Disclosure ("Right Now"), a cameo from UK garage DJ/producer MJ Cole ("Nobody But You") and guest vocals from Scottish singer Emeli Sandé ("Whole Damn Year").
Blige has long understood the potency of both hip-hop and dance music remixes, which remain a part of her single roll-outs. Over the years, she created a remix album of songs from What’s The 411?, and in 2002 released club-focused reworks of songs from No More Drama, Mary and Share My World on Dance For Me.
Blige's remixes also pay homage. On her cover of First Choice’s "Let No Man Put Asunder," Blige honors singers who came before by featuring guest vocals from the group's lead singer, Rochelle Fleming.
Her Rap Alter Ego
Blige has rapped a few times on her albums, beginning with a verse in "Love," from 2001’s No More Drama. She won her first solo GRAMMY for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance in 2003 for "He Think I Don't Know" from No More Drama. By the time she rhymed on "Enough Cryin’" and "Take Me As I Am" (both from 2005’s The Breakthrough), her rap alter ego had a name: Brook Lynn.
Her cadence caught the ear of her friend Busta Rhymes, who recruited Blige for his "Touch It (Remix)" the next year. "The haters plot and they watch, lookin’ all pale/While I’m on a yacht overseas, doin’ my nails," she raps alongside Busta, Missy Elliott and Rah Digga.
Brook Lynn took a hiatus for a few years after that, but she came back blazing in 2011. "Homegirls love me and we be ridin' Phantoms/Mad chicks hate me 'cause I be writin' anthems," she rhymes on "Midnight Drive" from My Life II… The Journey Continues (Act 1).
Since "You Remind Me," her first Top 40 entry, appeared on the soundtrack to Strictly Business, Blige has written stunning original songs such as "I Can See in Color" for Precious (2009). She has also licensed other hits to dozens of movies.
After years of contributing to soundtracks, Blige created her own as executive producer and performer of the soundtrack for Think Like a Man Too (2014), which includes a cover of Shalamar’s "A Night to Remember" and guest appearances by Pharrell Williams and The-Dream.
Blige has been cast in several acting roles since she guest starred in an episode of The Jamie Foxx Show in 1998 and has played fictional characters as well as real life figures Betty Shabazz (Betty and Coretta) and Dinah Washington (Respect). She received Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song for her work on 2017 film Mudbound.
More than 30 years into her recording career, Blige appears happy, energized and ready to add more hits and heartfelt anthems to her songbook.
Press Play On GRAMMY U Mixtape: New Year, It’s Poppin'! Monthly Member Playlist
The GRAMMY U Mixtape is a monthly, genre-spanning playlist to quench your thirst for new tunes, all from student members. GRAMMY U celebrates new beginnings with fresh pop tunes that will kickstart 2023.
Did you know that among all of the students in GRAMMY U, songwriting and performance is one of the most sought after fields of study? We want to create a space to hear what these students are creating today!
The GRAMMY U Mixtape, now available for your listening pleasure, highlights the creations and fresh ideas that students are bringing to this industry directly on the Recording Academy's Spotify and Apple Music pages. Our goal is to celebrate GRAMMY U members, as well as the time and effort they put into making original music — from the songwriting process to the final production of the track.
Each month, we accept submissions and feature 20 to 25 songs that match that month’s theme. This month we're ringing in 2023 with our New Year, It's Poppin'! playlist, which features fresh pop songs that bring new year, new you vibes. Showcasing talented members from our various chapters, we felt these songs represented the positivity and hopefulness that GRAMMY U members embody as they tackle this upcoming year of exciting possibilities.
So, what’s stopping you? Press play on GRAMMY U’s Mixtape and listen now on Spotify below and Apple Music.
Want to be featured on the next playlist? Submit your songs today! We are currently accepting submissions for songs of all genres for consideration for our February playlist. Whether you write pop, rock, hip hop, jazz, or classical, we want to hear from you. Music must be written and/or produced by the student member (an original song) and you must be able to submit a Spotify and/or Apple Music link to the song. Students must be a GRAMMY U member to submit.
About GRAMMY U:
GRAMMY U is a program that connects college students with the industry's brightest and most talented minds and provides those aspiring professionals with the tools and opportunities necessary to start a career in music.
Throughout each semester, events and special programs touch on all facets of the industry, including the business, technology, and the creative process.
As part of the Recording Academy's mission to ensure the recorded arts remain a thriving part of our shared cultural heritage, GRAMMY U establishes the necessary foundation for music’s next generation to flourish.
Not a member, but want to submit to our playlist? Apply for GRAMMY U Membership here.