A Short Convo With… Pusha T: ‘It Only Makes Sense For [Clipse] To Do Solo Projects’

A song featuring the Clipse and Young Jeezy probably should have been recorded a long time ago. Nearly five years after the rap world first coined the phrase “coke rap” to describe the powdery white subgenre of hip-hop music made popular by the Virginia Beach duo and the Atlanta rapper, it’s crazy to think they had never actually collaborated together on record—until now. On Jeezy’s long-awaited mixtape, Trap or Die II: By Any Means Necessary, they finally got their acts together on the Amadeus-produced “Ill’in.” The result? Something that’s pretty much as addictive as you’d expect.

VIBE.com caught up with Pusha T, one-half of the Clipse, to talk about laying down a verse for Mr. 103’s mixtape, upcoming Clipse solo albums, and his surprising pick in VIBE’s Greatest Producer of All Time tournament. —Chris Yuscavage

VIBE.com: Despite all the comparisons between the Clipse and Young Jeezy over the years, you’ve never worked together before recording “Ill’in.” What made now the right time?
Pusha T: Jeezy actually reached out to us earlier this year to talk about getting it done. We both work out of South Beach Studios in Miami now. He had some studio time over there and wanted to get something done. He had the hook finished when he sent it over and he was like, ‘Yo, the floodgates is open. Do what you want to do!’ [Laughs] He works really late at night, from what I understand, so I went to the studio one day while he wasn’t there and laid my verse and then Malice did the same.

Did you actually end up spending any time together in the studio—or did you basically just record the song and leave? 
After I laid my verse, he ended up coming to the studio and we talked. I heard a lot of what he was working on for the album and the mixtape. It was dope just sitting in there with him. At the end, he said, ‘Yo, I want to make an impact up in your area and you should come down to Atlanta and make an impact in mine. I’ll run through the city with you and then when I come up to VA, you run through the city with me.’ You know, just to show people the connection.

“There’s an emotional side of Pusha that people need to see”

Were you upset the song only landed on the TOD2 mixtape as opposed to the Thug Motivation 103 album? It’s a good look either way, but…
To me, it never really mattered what it was on because I knew people were gonna hear it and gravitate towards it either way. At the end of the day, if Jeezy drops a mixtape or an album, it doesn’t really matter. Either way, the demographic and his fan base hears it.

Judging from the response on the Internet, the one line from the song that plenty of people heard is, “Tell Hova don’t pass the crown so soon, Unless he got a crown for every writer in the room/There’s too many spirits on these ghostwritten tunes, So you can’t crown the heir until you séance the room.” Can you clarify exactly what you meant by that? 
I actually wrote my verse [around the time] “D.O.A.” dropped. I just feel like there are a lot of new artists in the game that still have to prove themselves. You hear so much talk about who’s next and who’s up next and who’s the man and so on and so forth. In all fairness, I feel like Jay-Z is still relevant. He’s still
the rapper. He’s the crown-holder right now. But, you know, he cosigns plenty of artists all the time, so I just wanted to tell him not to pass the crown too soon because we don’t know enough about these artists yet. We need to do checks on them first and see what they’re all about. Obviously, ghostwriting is a very big thing going on, too. So we gotta see who the man is behind all of these joints if that’s what’s going on.