As the irreverent devil on the shoulder of The Clipse, Pusha T’s blizzard cold street narratives always raised susupicions what he would do without his brother Malice present as his conscience. Earlier this year, the world received the younger Thornton’s first missive with his first solo outing, the mixtape Fear Of God. A mix of We Got It For Cheap free-for-alls and more refined attempts at establishing himself as a viable solo entity, the first iteration of Fear Of God was proof that Neighborhood P was not playing and the rest of the world should be afraid.
On his officially released Fear Of God II: Let Us Pray
EP LP, he inches closer to his true potential as a soloist by adding brand new original tracks to the fiend-satiating favorites from the original package. The standouts from the first mixtape (“My God,” “I Still Wanna,” “Alone In Vegas”) are here, and remain as strong as they were on the first listen. However, while mostly potent, the new additions don’t always stand up to the Blow test.
Starting off with a strong note, the declarative “Changing of the Guard” shows Pusha Ton is at his sinister best. Complete with a vintage Bad Boy-era Diddy rant, the album is worth a purchase, if only to hear Puff attempt to do Pusha’s trademark “Egyuck!” adlib). Shawty Redd is on the track for the Kanye and Jeezy collaboration, “Amen.” The G.O.O.D. music throne occupier and The Snowman both make strong contributions, but P still manages to stand out. Lines like “Front that shit you put a flame on/My niggas locked in a cage for/They keep telling me to go hard/#1 spot you was made for” echo a recurrent theme that shows up throughout the sermon: Pusha lamenting losing most of his crew to the prison system.
The raucous and unrepentant ode to greed “What Dreams Are Made Of” and the Pharrell-produced subgenre mash-up “Trouble On My Mind” (featuring a scene-stealing verse from Tyler, The Creator of Odd Future fame) both ramp up the album’s intensity. However, the momentum slows with the southern-tinged posse cut, “Body Work” (featuring Meek Millz, Juicy J and French Montana).” The synth-horn laced beat and Juicy J hook seem completely out of place, and throw off the album’s cohesiveness. French Montana pops up again with a whiny hook on “Everything That Glitters.” In his best attempt to pay homage to his incarcerated comrade Max B so beloved, Frenchy’s campy tone runs contrary to the seriousness of the song’s subject matter.
Pusha T is almost as well known for his subject matter as he is his lyrical prowess. He has a lot to overcome in terms of perception, to become a great solo artist. And while Fear Of God Part II: Let Us Pray is not going to push him over the top, but it does put him in prime position to stake his claim among the elite when he makes his proper debut. While there are some missteps, Pusha has proven that he can hold his own and create a cohesive body of work. The question remains can he live up to the high standards set by his group and new creative cohorts.
Label: G.O.O.D. Music/Decon/Re-Up | Producers: The Neptunes, Shawty Redd, Bangladesh, Tha Bizness, Hit-Boy, Nottz, Deezy, Lee Major (of The Inkredibles), Rico Beats, A-Traxx, The VIPs