Mixtape Review: Pusha T, Wrath of Caine

This latest effort is a solid warm up to P’s hotly anticipated solo debut.

4star
Posted: 02/15/2013 01:45 PM EST

(Photo: G.O.O.D. Music)

Years in waiting, the release of Pusha T’s solo debut album at last seems within reach. The LP, which will be titled My Name Is My Name, is slated to arrive sometime later this year. But coming off of 2012’s multi-platinum G.O.O.D. Music single "Mercy" and appearances on the crew’s Cruel Summer compilation, Ziploc P can’t just stop meeting the demand for new music while fans await his proper solo debut. His latest effort, Wrath of Caine, serves as an appetizer with several new sous chefs – many of which are seated at the production end of the table.

The prelude to Pusha’s forthcoming album begins with invigorated rhymes aimed at deflating the egos of "laptop hot" Internet rappers. Although his reputation precedes itself, the younger Thornton brother raps as if to remind newer MC’s of his place on hip hop’s present totem pole. Lines like "Vengeance is mine said the Lord / Throwing shots at n---- cause I’m bored" are a clear indication that Pusha thinks no more of dissing rappers than Tony Montana thinks of killing a communist.

The Virginia rhyme slinger then plays the pope of dope and baptizes bricks of that white in religious metaphors on "Millions." The roaring ode to drug money provides an instant rush that channels the power and paranoia that accompany suffering from success in the "snow" business. Paired with Southside and co-producer Kanye West’s musical arrangement, Push and guest Rick Ross sound at home on the booming cut. Drug dealer chic rhymes and a chorus that lives well outside the confines of the law prove effective in P’s pursuit to "restore the feeling" of flourishing in a dangerous enterprise. Deciding to break the choppas out the closet, the tape’s lead single "Millions" sees the "bricklayer" MC enforcing claims that his absence from the charts doesn’t mean that his money’s not piling high. He drives the latter point home with both conviction and panache, spitting "My records ain’t got to sell n----a/ (Woo!) Go diamond off of my cell n----a."

Refusing to breathe the same air as those in a lower income bracket, Pusha highlights the hierarchy on "Doesn’t Matter." Notoriously drowsy with his hooks, French Montana manages to pull off yet another catchy chorus even with his demeanor on the track channeling that of a panhandler crooning for loose change. Pusha’s sentiments of superiority are clearly voiced on opening bars, "There’s a meaning to the kissing of the ring / The gods don’t mingle with the mortals, the peasants ain’t sitting with the king / Goliath ain’t worried ‘bout your sling / and Cassius ain’t bothered by your swing." The Clipse MC comfortably navigates The Renegades beat like a lord who never worries, equipped with an arrogance that will have you rooting for him like a charismatic movie villain.

Producer Harry Fraud’s stock continues to rise on "Road Runner." The track casts Neighborhood Push back into his alleged transporter days alongside New York’s next up, Troy Ave, who harmonizes a dope boy’s prayer between trips. Pusha’s dope boy recollections pitched with Troy’s humanizing vocals equate to one of WOC’s most memorable cuts. Meanwhile, "Only You Can Tell It" featuring Wale also stands out, but does so in the ugly duckling sense. A throwback to the high-pitched samples popularized in The Diplomats’ heyday, the chipmunk hook and gloomy piano keys sound like a relic best left in the time capsule when played next to the rest of the mixtape. Sans a clever quip about the volume of his weed, Wale delivers unimpressive filler raps that only add to the disappointment of the tapes second collab with MMG.

Coming to a close, Pusha saves some of the best for last with the Jake One-produced "Take My Life." The Caribbean-inspired number revisits Push’s own "started from the bottom" origins with bars like, "Where was you when I was bleeding / disappointed and battling my demons?" As with much of WOC, the triumphant MC doesn’t hesitate to remind us here that even after a storied rap career, his ties to the streets remain well intact.

Running just over the half-hour mark, Wrath Of Caine serves as a solid course to precede Pusha’s forthcoming entrée, My Name Is My Name. While the rapper’s world almost never ceases to have the same "white girl" as his ball-and-chain, his ability to be tyrannical one moment and humble in another allows for WOC to avoid conceptual droughts. And so to answer the questions Pusha poses on "Millions," no, the mixtape doesn’t quite sound like it was authored by a deity, but yes, plenty of Caine does cook up hard. 

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