They say the beef is over, but if Pusha T performs “Infrared” at Drai’s Nightclub Friday night, is that really true?
The track from the Virginia Beach rapper’s new Kanye West-produced album Daytona reignited the latest in a long tradition of hip-hop squabbles last month when Pusha referenced rumors about an uncredited ghostwriter crafting rhymes for Drake. The Canadian superstar retaliated with “Duppy Freestyle,” Pusha took it to the next level with the ruthless “The Story of Adidon,” and then Kanye tried to Tweet some beef suppression before it all got out of hand. Pusha told Vanity Fair last week that the war is over: “It doesn’t really distract me. I feel like everything happens for a reason. This is a part of hip-hop. … I’m ready to be back to the music for real.”
The rap battle might grab headlines and spark memes, but it can’t overshadow the brilliance of Daytona, Pusha’s first album since 2015.
“The beats ... are shadowy and cavernous,” reports The New Yorker. “Pusha-T fills them with his flawless enunciation, his serene kind of menace. His aspersions are finely and wickedly cast.” Pitchfork slipped Daytona into the Best New Music category, describing “a tightly wound record that doesn’t recapture the highs of peak Clipse, but finally makes ideal use of the now middle-aged rapper’s considerable skills.”
Born Terrence Thornton, Pusha originally broke through with his older brother as the duo Clipse, lacing tense street lyrics over skittering production from The Neptunes. Even though he has become president of West’s label G.O.O.D. Music, he’s still known best from that mid-2000s era as one of the sharpest in the game. Also from the Pitchfork review: “His writing has as much stylistic and syntactical variety as most of his peers, and few are operating at anything close to a comparable level more than two decades into their careers.”
PUSHA T AT DRAI’S June 15, 10:30 p.m., $50-$75. Cromwell, 702-777-3800.