There is nothing more dispiriting to an aspiring music critic than the word “Banger”. The urge to limit every song that inspires an emotional reaction to literally the simplest and most obnoxious noise it is possible to make. Bang is the sound of a garage door slamming. It’s the sound of an idiot hitting the table with a wooden spoon. It’s the worst noise.
And yet, it’s sort of true isn’t it? Usually words catch on because there’s some sort of truth behind them, and banger is no exception. It does make you sort of feel “Bang” doesn’t it? It’s maybe tied to the word “Headbang” but for me, I feel it in my chest, the head is bypassed completely.
Pusha T has written absolute bangers all the way through Daytona like malware through a teenagers first laptop.
Beats are varied and each one brings something different to the table. The electro horns on the opener “If you know you know” hits back to clubs and raves, which is mashed up with the laid back braggadocio in the lyrics. It’s an energising listen that also inspires you to kick back on your plastic throne. It makes me feel the way “Juicy” by B.I.G made me feel the first time I heard it.
But it’s here I got to remind you. I’m a thirty year old white guy who was born and will most likely die in a smallish english town. I grew a beard when everyone else grew a beard and I drink espresso coffee to try and impress the starbucks staff that, frankly, intimidate me.
So yeah, there’s probably some distance between myself and Pusha T.
Distance obviously means I almost definitely am lacking context into the world of Pusha T. But it also means Pusha T is free to create and work with conceptions, misconceptions and colour my experience completely. I will be the first to admit, I might not have the emotional connection to the places and situations Pusha T raps about, at least not all of them (but themes are universal), but I am able to appreciate the twists he puts on genre and media characterisation.
Because when Pusha T speaks about what the media has made him, or what the media has done to his community, he really is speaking to me. I am that person. The media is the arrow, but the bullseye it’s aiming for is people like me, distant, removed, and shaped not by the reality of the situation, but by our view of that reality, which is through the news cameras, hollywood films, and rap songs.
If you are willing to let him, Pusha offers a glimpse into his reality. Markedly different from the 24 hour news camera’s version of events that involves improbably smart hair cuts and soft as day old milk repartee. He shows you, look, this is us, this is me, this is my version of me, this is my real.
Does he throw down gangsta bragging like the best of them, yes, absolutely tons of it, some of it so bananas it would make the WWE blush. But it’s with a knowledge and wink to genre and often tinged with a bitter after taste. Is this what you want? Then this is what you get, is the vibe.
OK. But are the songs themselves good, as well as the kind of stuff music critics like to get introspective about?
Short answer, yeah, actually. Produced by Kanye West, and only 7 tracks long, Pusha T might not have the space to roam quite as freely as we might like (for West, this is one of his more conventional albums of late), but every track is pitch perfect and air tight. It’s quality over quantity, and you see in this album a desire to trim that, if we’re being honest, Kanye could have used recently.
The rhymes are full of long running lines and metaphors, that breathless feeling of a rapper laying track directly in front of the train, holding the audience tense as they wonder exactly if he can pull it off or if we’re all about to derail into messy instrumental breaks or bass drops.
A smarter critic would notice that at 21 minutes long, a mark of quality might be in how few of the reviews mention “value for money”. Maybe it’s a sign of our streaming times, but this album really does give you everything you could want from Pusha T, condensed, perfected, and polished. Credit to him for swerving the modern trend of dumping 400 tracks on to spotify and then leaving the play algorithm to sort the shit.
Pusha T: Daytona: 5/5.