The national presidential race is heating up and now more than ever candidates are being vetted of their past while their qualifications are being evaluated. Every move made by the top runners is under the magnifying glass. Polls are analyzed weekly, even daily, and if you’re a political junkie like me you live for this.
Something similar happened in the hip hop world–and no, we’re not talking about Kanye 2020 — but we are talking about his label. On Monday, Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music artist Pusha T was named president of the label to the shock of many, including myself.
I was a little surprised when the announcement came. Of course, unlike the race for the White House, there was no national vote, public debate series or even wide prior knowledge before the news broke. According to Pusha, it all started from a phone call, one even he wasn’t anticipating.
“Actually, I was flying home and I had just got into my car at the airport,” he told Billboard, who broke the story. “Ye had called me and he was like, 'Tell me something. What do you think about being the president of G.O.O.D. Music?' And I was like, 'Well, what are the things that you’re looking for?' And he was basically just like, to manicure the label, make it profitable and be very business-oriented about it going forward in a manicured type of way.”
Artists becoming presidents of labels isn’t something without precedent and if anyone has shown how to remain relevant for a long time, it’s King Push. It’s just like, why? We know Ye’s always had a fondness for him and has gone out of his way for Pusha perhaps more than anyone, even compared to other artists on the label. So the “I get it” factor is there. But actually, I don’t get it.
Kanye is the king of making decisions or manufacturing output we all question initially but then look back and say, damn dude’s Steve Jobs with this music s**t. Could this be one of those times?
Beyond whether this works out, I’ll always be a Pusha T fan. His consistency is unparalleled when it comes to quality and to say I’m excited for King Push would be an enormous understatement. But let’s look at why his presidency makes sense.
Pusha does have a business acumen. He and No Malice created Play Clothes, a streetwear brand that has seen success in an overcrowded market. In fact, PC is one of the premier labels when it comes to rap artist generated streetwear brands. Since 2010, Play Clothes has grossed more than $4 million in sales, which is more than Pusha earned doing music during that stretch. He also created his own label in 2004 with Re-Up Records and subsequently created the Re-Up Gang.
Even when it comes to his music Pusha T is above average at marketing. He made waves in 2013 when he boasted about his then forthcoming album My Name Is My Name. Now I know a lot of rappers do that, and yes it’s annoying, but the way he did it made you believe it. He had past credibility in creating quality work. In interview after interview he wouldn’t just say his LP would be the year’s best, he’d say it was the best to come “by far.” Even in comparison to Kanye, who dropped Yeezus just months earlier, he flaunted rational as to why he was the man to beat.
“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,” he told Vibe in June of 2014. “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 seventh 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.”
It’s this kind of branding that shows a little of what Pusha brings to the board room. Confidence also plays a big role when it comes to being a head honcho, and the two most important people in making this decision are tops in that.
“Artistically, me and Kanye have the same vision,” he continued during the Billboard interview. “He just notices me and him don’t ever have that type of pressure, tension, producer-artist relationship. I think he respects that a lot and not to mention, ever since I’ve been on G.O.O.D. Music, there’s been a host of artists that I’ve brought to the table, tried to sign, brought to his attention in trying to sign, whether something was super hot or I called it, it’s not going to stand the test of time, it’s wack. I been pretty right in a few regards. Those are the things he keys on as far as I go and just as far as being a part of the culture.”
It seems the two have convinced themselves that Pusha T is the man for the job and who am I to refute their decision? Actually, who are any of us to really question who should run G.O.O.D.? In today’s hip hop collectives are everything. The Rich Gangs, Young Moneys and Maybach Music Groups of the world make millions off of their imprint. As time moves on even G.O.O.D. Music finds itself in a rut. Why not shake things up and give the reins to someone who has been down since day one and shown preliminary steps of success in the field? Perhaps President Pusha could be the best thing for Kanye’s label as artists under the imprint are gearing up for another slate of releases.
Actually, I do get it now.
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(Photos from left: Larry Busacca/Getty Images, Cindy Ord/Getty Images for BET)
Watch: 106 & Rewind! Pusha T on Working With Kendrick Lamar in the video below.
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