VIBE Interview: Pusha T Digital Cover Story 'My Name Is My Name'

Pusha T doesn’t have any time to waste. He knows all too well that none of this lasts forever. Though he’s been resurrected as a solo artist by the G.O.O.D. Music family, P has lost a lot along the way. He’s enjoying the fruits of his labor, yes, but at what cost? He started out chasing the hip-hop dream with a cast of friends and of course his brother. These days, his day-to-day support system comes mostly from phone calls.

“When it’s over, it’s over, and we can look at each other like, 'We had a run!’ But I ain’t going to cut the run short if we eating off me right now,” Pusha tells VIBE about his current success. “When it’s all over, we can just give ourselves a round of applause and have no regrets.”

The Virginia hustler only plays the game on his own terms, but to those that know the real Pusha T, his attitude is why he’s loved in the streets. “Terrence really be out here. You might see him in pictures with Kanye in Paris on Monday, but he’ll be in Virginia on Tuesday,” DJ Punisha explains while showing VIBE around the tiny downtown area of Norfolk. Pun has his finger on the pulse in the V.A. club scene and occasionally spins for Pusha during local shows.

We drive by the projects where the Clipse shot their “Grindin'” video, Mac Arthur Mall—where P owns a streetwear boutique Cream—and an infamous, now-closed nightclub formerly owned by the Clipse's former manager Anthony “Geezy” Gonzales who's serving time on drug charges. It takes no more than 15 minutes. “Geezy was a real good dude… I met him from working in his club, through a promoter friend of mine. That's really all I knew him for,” DJ Punisha tells VIBE.

Pusha’s ties to his old stomping grounds run deep. Liked an aged oak tree, his roots are fused into the dirt of Virginia. No one complains when he arrives an hour late to set. It’s all business for No Malice’s younger sibling. He comes straight from the baptism pool to sit down for the interview, still soaking wet. “You want to change first?” I ask him. “Nah, let’s just do this. I’ll just change when I get home. I don’t live far,” he replies. P isn’t capable of forgetting where he came from. He never left.

VIBE: Witnessing the baptism scene was powerful, man. What did you think think when we first pitched the idea to you?
Pusha T: When it comes to my brother and the church, I just know it’s something he’s truly passionate about, so I don’t question it. I just see him growing in so many ways. I’m definitely seeing another step in his life. When it comes to the music, we’ve always called him “the voice of reason.” His mentality has always been from a consequential, conscious, Christian way of thinking. He’s the one who speaks with common sense, principals and morals. From the very beginning, it’s always been there. To me, it’s been a gradual progression, but a true fan shouldn’t be shocked.

Were you baptized as a kid?
Yea, of course.

Even with your brother on a different path in life, I know you still get asked every day about the next Clipse album.
I hear it all the time. When it comes… if it comes… it’s going to be right, and that takes time. I’m not going to rush the process. That brand means too much. We aren’t going to compromise anything.

Here’s a story to just let you know how serious it is. The 10th anniversary of Lord Willin' was last year and we had 20 shows lined up in every major market. $20,000 a show, The Clipse haven’t had an album out since 2009. Right before it was time to head out, Malice told me he didn’t want to do it. It was like a week or two before. We talking 20 days tops to make $400,000

How did you feel about that?
I just let it go. This isn’t something I’m ever going to debate with him. Coachella, I asked him to come out and do some records with me. And he was like ‘Man, alright, but which ones?’ And to me for that big of a crowd, records like “Keys Open Doors” must set off life [Laughs], and he chose not to do it, but I don’t worry about it. I just respect it and take it in stride. It’s just where he is right now, and as long as he’s at peace, than I can’t be upset. This is my brother, I would never want him to not be at peace, especially on my account. It’s the music game and I don’t particularly love it. When it comes to his beliefs and morals, I’m not going to say anything. You could just hear it in the music on Til The Casket Drops, “Life Changes.” I wasn’t shocked or anything at all. The strength that he has is what’s shocking.

So, I know your solo album is pretty much done.
The album is done. Right now, I’ve just been making revisions here and there. It’s just a production thing. Some of the records haven’t been through Kanye’s full process. That’s what I’m waiting on. He actually took my hard drive and all my files.

At any point did you think about moving your date up to June 18 to drop with Kanye?.
I wasn’t really worried about him and June 18. I look at it like Ye does exactly what he wants to do in regards to his music. He’s taking major risks on this album. You can hear the brashness. It’s aimed on a worldly, political, cooperate level. But my album by far is the best hip-hop album of the year.

That’s a big statement.
Nah, it’s a real statement. I posed to Kanye ‘If you don’t make the date, we should definitely drop on the same date.’ And his campaign being ‘I’m only competing with myself. I’ve reincarnated myself for the 7th time, Yeezus.’ Everybody can’t be a part of this conversation. I was recording my album at the same time in Paris so I felt what he was doing the whole time.

What do you say to the critics that want to hear you rap about different subject matter on this album from what we’re accustomed to from Pusha T?
I think that’s what the title of my album is about. By now, you should know what you’re getting with Pusha T. I’ve been in this game since 2002, and my name says it all. You know I’m only moved by a certain style of rap. Not that many other styles move me. You have to really be a rapper’s rapper for me to like it.

There was a time when you couldn’t shake the coke rap title, and then you kind of embraced it.
Coke rap is such a pigeon-holy title. If that’s all you take it for, you’ll forget the parallels in the verses to regular life. Now, Trap rap is the biggest thing going on. With the Clipse gave you all the elements and fundamentals of hip-hop with the theme that everyone is embracing now. We did it much better.

The Re-Up Gang mixtapes are going down in history, man. I still listen to them in my car, and the Hell Hath No Fury album. I tell people all the time that I’ll never make another album like that one again. Never! If I can make another Hell HathNo Fury, I would be going to jail. I don’t even want to be able to that. If I was able to write like that again, I’d have to be in the space where I’m going away… I’m guaranteed to be out of here. That’s one of the best albums ever made to me.

Better than My Name Is My Name?
Listen, let’s get off all this street shit and everything else. A great rapper has a curated album by one of the greatest producers right now, period. My album is one of the greatest… I put my album up against anybody’s.

From any time period?
Well, I’m such a fan, so my album isn’t as good as Life After Death. Purple Tape, I ain’t got one of those either. This ain’t Reasonable Doubt yet, but I’m a get one of those. I’m getting there. But I took a lot of those influences from all those great albums. I was the best student that I could be to give you the best album with My Name Is My Name. This album is everything that is missing in rap right now. And, I actually think rap is good right now. It’s better than it’s been in a while.


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Don Cheadle as Mo in 'Black Monday,' Episode 4 ("295")
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'Black Monday' Recap: Mo Feels The Weight Of Playing God

Another week, another dive into Black Monday. In this week's episode, “295,” Mo tries to salvage his plan to get the Georgina company’s shares after Blair and Tiffany Georgina’s surprise breakup in the previous episode threw a wrench in that plan. By the end of this week’s episode, Mo gets what he wants but it doesn’t go as planned. Don Cheadle told VIBE that Black Monday was “ a good way,” and this episode shows just that, starting with Mo’s God complex.

Stop Trying To Be God

You need a certain cocktail of self-aggrandization and delusions of grandeur to walk around with a God complex. Mo has that cocktail coursing through his veins. The entire episode revolves around Mo’s attempt to control the actions of humans by placing them in certain situations he is sure will yield his desired results. Only someone blinded by their obsession with being right wouldn’t see having to fix a “foolproof” plan makes him a fool.

The writing expertly showed that when you play God your creation is your reflection, especially in the tense scene at Mo’s dining room table with Blair and Dawn. He turned Blair into a cocaine-addicted party animal to show him how empty life is without having someone you love. Then, in one scene, Dawn exposed how all Mo did was build Blair in his image without realizing that part of his plan was to inadvertently show Blair just how miserable Mo really lives.

Even ostensibly innocuous details carry a huge emotional weight thanks to Black Monday’s writing and Cheadle’s consistently engaging performance. The writers literally had Mo on the outside looking in at forces out of his control at the end of the episode when he’s looking into the bar. It’s at this climactic moment of the show that Mo realizes his own mortality by getting what he wants but missing out on what he knows he needs.

It’s also at this moment that the show’s most boring lead character grew into someone worth watching.

Blair Is Here

For the first three episodes, Blair was as interesting as paint on the wall; always in front of your face but in the back of your mind. Before a single character utters a word in this episode, Blair is chain-smoking cigarettes, snorting coke and dressed like a Saturday Night Fever extra. He died “for a song and a half” and was electroshocked back to life, all in the first minute of the new episode. Blair has finally joined the Black Monday party and the show is better for it.

Mo molding Blair into his image allowed Blair to tap into a new level of confidence.  Blair’s exchange with Dawn about the implicit racism and sexism in 1980s films like Teen Wolf was rewind-worthy hilarious and ends with Blair remarking, “My favorite line from the movie is, ‘I’m not a f*g, I’m a werewolf. Oh, Michael J,” easily one of the funniest 1980s critiques on a show full of them.

The episode also entangled Blair in the show’s first love triangle, ensuring that Blair’s character growth is probably not done. With Blair now being compelling, following Dawn and Keith’s character-defining performances in the previous episode, Black Monday has set up its four most accomplished actors to be able to carry entire story arcs without relying on each other. But, the Black Monday world got bigger than those four in this week’s episode.

The Wall Street Mythology

There’s not enough time in a 30-minute episode to flesh out every character’s backstory and fully formed personality. The most surprisingly funny part of episode “295” was the story arc of Jammer Group traders Keith and Yassir (Yassir Lester) trying to stop Wayne (Horatio Sanz) from completing a “The LaGuardia Spread”. The arc showed that Black Monday has an ingenious way of speeding up character development: mythologize Wall Street.

On Black Monday, “The LaGuardia Spread” is when a trader takes a huge position on a stock, goes to LaGuardia Airport and waits to see if they made a huge profit or debilitating loss. If you guess right, you come home. If you guess wrong, “you don’t come home ever. You get on a plane and you f**king disappear,” according to a frantic Keith. Wayne was nothing more than a bumbling joke punchline of a trader before this episode. In only a few minutes of screentime we find out Wayne slept with his wife’s sister, has some weird dislike for The Howard Stern Show’s weekly guest Jackie Martling, and is so money hungry that he’d be giddy at the news of a mad cows disease epidemic and it’s positive effect on his “LaGuardia Spread” trade.

A similar result happened before on Black Monday. In the series premiere, the Lehman twins (Ken Marino) laid out the Georgina Play, the foundation of Mo’s plans to get all the shares from the Georgina company from Blair after he marries Tiffany. That Wall Street myth led to their grandfather setting himself on fire. That myth also showed that at any moment any person you see on screen become valuable because of what they about know how this fictionalized world works. As long as Black Monday continues to use the inherent absurdity of Wall Street as a machine for character development, this show could begin entering the conversation for one of the best ensemble casts on television.

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Cardi B Says Jussie Smollett May Have "F**ked Up Black History Month"

Many people are split on the alleged attack on Jussie Smollett. The Empire actor claims he was attacked by two MAGA supporters in late-January, who doused him in an unidentified liquid while shouting racial and homophobic slurs at him.

Cardi B, who is often vocal about issues in society on her social media platforms, spoke out against the reports that Smollett potentially orchestrated the attack.

"I'm really disappointed in him," she said in an Instagram Live video. "I feel like he f**ked up Black History Month, bro. Like, damn. I'm not gonna say, yet. Until he say it out his mouth that it was fake and the sh*t was staged, I don't want to completely blame him, because somebody I was talking to they said police in Chicago are racists..."

She continues by stating that there's a possibility that the police may be trying to frame the actor, who maintains his innocence amidst damning reports. However, she said that it's "f**ked up" if he is indeed lying to the public.

"Then you gave Donald Trump immunity to f**kin' laugh at n***as and sh*t. Make mothaf**kas look bad," she concluded.

Watch her comments.

Cardi B gave her opinion on the Jussie Smollett case on Instagram live. (1/2)

— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) February 18, 2019

Cardi B gave her opinion on the Jussie Smollett case on Instagram live. (2/2)

— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) February 18, 2019

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Reports Emerge Claiming Jussie Smollett "Rehearsed" Alleged Attack

TMZ reports that Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who claimed in late-January that he was attacked by MAGA supporters, reportedly rehearsed the alleged assault with the two men involved. According to prosecutors, his alleged racial and homophobic attack will be headed to a grand jury next week.

Per the site, "Abel and Ola Osundairo told cops they got in a car with Jussie and scouted a location, settling on the one right outside the actor's apartment. The brothers said Jussie chose the spot because he believed a camera would have captured the action."

The sources close the the situation said that Jussie reportedly wanted to make the attack a "physical thing," but did not want to be seriously injured. While Jussie left the scene with just a scratch, the brothers- who are Nigerian, and not white- did not know they left a mark on him, as that's not what they had rehearsed.

"On the night Jussie says he was attacked, the brothers claim they showed up at the scene but were extremely nervous because, just as they played out the scene, a car drove by and they were worried they'd be ID'd," the site continues.

Smollett released a statement through representatives vehemently denying the allegations that he orchestrated the attack, maintaining his original story.


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