Earlier this week, The Griffin played host to Play Cloths fifth anniversary party. As expected, sets from DJ Wonder and DJ ENVY spun audio homages to everything Virginia: Pharrell, Neptunes, Clipse; even a splash of Timbo’s beats filled the dimly lit night club in New York City’s Meat Packing district.
A crowd of fans, bloggers and industry notables hit the scene, even with NYC facing it’s second major blizzard of the winter. It’s fitting that those who love what Pusha T is about ventured out to celebrate him, and his second-act as a solo artist, did so on a night blinded by snow. When Terrence and brother Gene “No Malice” Thornton hit the streets behind Grindin on Lord Willin’, they did so with a fresh, feathery, whiteout flow about powder pushing that only Shaun White and Tony Montana can relate to.
By midnight the venue was packed and pumped off the D’USSE. King Push watched over the crowd with his street-regal aura atop a blacked out balcony. Still nodding his head to every song with excitement like the first time he heard the beats of his classics, Push made his way down to greet the crowd like the people’s champion of rap. But before The G.O.O.D. Music Golden Child posed for pics so they could upload, he talked to us about new inspirations for Play Cloths, the reality behind his lyrics and gave his Super Bowl predictions.—Terrence Watson (@LowerEastScribe)
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VIBE: Push man, what’s good? My name’s Terrence too.
Pusha T: Haha, dope
We’re here for Play Cloths fifth anniversary party and, not that anyone does anything with failure in mind but, there are other artists who have tried to delve into fashion and it doesn’t always work. What about Play Cloths as a brand keeps it, not only relevant but, fresh and exclusive?
Pusha T: Ahh man, you know. I think people know that myself and Play Cloths is sort of an organic situation. They know my background, I come from the streetwear background of A Bathing Ape, BBC, Original Fake. I was embraced by, I have to say, the streetwear gods early in my career. So me doing Play Cloths is not far fetched. I think some people, some artists come out like ‘man, Imma start this clothing line,’ and they’re not really…
They don’t know what they’re doing (laughs)
Pusha T: (laughs) Yeah, they don’t know what they’re doing or they’ve never been really checked for for clothes and that type of situation. But just in my coming up in the industry, people have always known me to be affiliated and associated with exclusive pieces or Japanese streetwear and things like that. So, you know, it makes a little bit more sense for me.
There was a clear inspiration from what I want to call like African Excellence and kingship in the most recent pieces.
(Nods in agreement) Yeah.
My personal favorite was the Giza designed tee and the Nefertiti sweatshirt, they were crazy. That was obviously the inspiration, but what can we look forward to for the new pieces?
I think the new line, the new seasons coming up are a bit more daring. Even in the graphics, it gets a little dark at times. You might get the angry clowns and things like that, and it’s really graphic but really beautiful. It’s like a mean beauty that’s coming across in the clothes in the upcoming seasons.
I feel that. The darker presence is what’s kinda hot right now but you’re giving your own take on it.
Oh, for sure.
I wanna talk a little bit about rap. Obviously you have classic bars, but I feel like you elevated yourself to another level on Cruel Summer. You reached new heights on Mercy and New God Flow, it took you from a 10 to a 12. You think that set the tone for your solo debut
I think so. I think I was really ready for my solo debut and I felt like… I treated it like [I was] a new artist. That’s why you got the Fear of God mixtape, Wraith of Cane, Fear of God Pt. II. Luckily there was a platform for me to be on the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album. Then the Cruel Summer platform and the G.O.O.D. Friday platform, so it was sort of set up for me and I think the people were ready for it.
I know you’ve said that 40 Acres was your favorite joint off the album, but what was your favorite song other than that?
Other than that it’s so much. I mean, it’s King Push, Numbers [On The Boards] and Nosetalgia. They have a real (pauses in thought)… Numbers came out a very controversial time. It was dropped on the heels, I think of like (Jay Z’s) Open Letter or something from Hov and Timbaland. It wasn’t necessarily time for Numbers to come out but, sometimes (when you) see somebody with the caliber of production of Timbaland and Jay Z putting out a record that people are gunna feel is true to hip hop. I feel like I’m making true hip hop too with Kanye West. So it’s like, sometimes you have to put things out prematurely so that you’ll even be in the conversation. I feel like that Numbers On The Board was the conversation starter for people to be like, ‘Wait a minute, he could have album of the year.’
Other than Numbers On The Board, I felt like S.N.I.T.C.H and King Push we so hard. Those two and Pain.
Pain was a very personal record, I love that record a lot. I think people can sort of tell even in the way we were putting out these records, we were just exciting when did them. When we did them, it was like ‘man, this is banging’ (makes flying motion with his hand) and it was gone. We want people to digest and live with the music and we weren’t scared of letting people hear it.
I cover sports for VIBE, so I want to ask a few football questions. Season’s almost coming to an end, so can we get your Super Bowl champion predictions?
I predicted the Seattle Seahawks at the beginning of the season and I’m still riding with them.
Speaking of the Seahawks, what do you think of the hate Richard Sherman’s getting?
Oh for his rant? That’s the type of energy I want to see. He’s a competitor to me. This is a trash talk game and we don’t know what’s being said on that field. The better man won that day.
I liken you to Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in the sense that he’s taking on the youngin’ Russell Wilson, as arguably the best at what he does and is always over prepared to play, where your bars are heavily about drugs and you always deliver without sounding stale as opposed to some rappers, especially new ones, who talk about the same subject but can’t do it like you can. Can you relate to that?
Yeah man, there’s a big difference between me and a lot of rappers out there when it comes to the street culture because I give a 360-degree perspective of it that I don’t even think people know how to give. You have to remember, I mean, I wrote S.N.I.T.C.H. I think the rappers today are too busy being real, live kingpins instead of telling the true story. Sometimes, somebody you love and really care about does turn. It happens. No one ever says that, no one ever talks like that.
But at the same time, I don’t know if they’ve ever really been through it. It’s sort of hard to talk about what you haven’t been through. You can’t vividly detail that. Your imagination has to be reeaalllly, really, good. You can have an imaginative mind and make up creative bars, but to do a creative story and deliver it so intricately, where emotions hit is hard. You’ve got to sort of live it—a little bit. People sort of know that.
Even the acronym for the song itself was deep.
Oh yeah, Pharrell’s dope for that. He’s got the acronym of the year for that. And he got the acronym from our conversation. I told him the real conversation and he called me back two weeks later. I had a conversation with someone I was close to and they were, basically, telling me this is the last time we would ever speak again. And he was saying that because he was gunna turn over.
I got off the phone [with him] and I had to call Pharrell, somebody who knows us both, you know what I’m saying? He knows who I’m talking about, he knows everything. He just confirmed it for me because I was like ‘is this what I’m hearing?’ and he was like “yeah, for sure.” He was like, “man, that’s a good song” and I was like ‘nah, that’s a terrible song. I don’t wanna do that song.’
So would you say that makes it the most heartfelt song on the album?
I mean all of them are, but I feel like that and 40 Acres, umm…(pauses to think) Hold On, like it’s a lot of heartfelt records up there man. Those bars come from something, all of them do. I find pain in a lot of those lyrics, even in Pain. You know?