E: Welcome to the inaugural post of Blogging Ain’t Dead. I’m Eamon.
R: I’m Roger.
E: When we’re not finding new and creative ways to disappoint our parents, Roger and I spend a disproportionate amount of time arguing with each other about music. We used to do this face to face, now we do it over iMessage. This is that, but… more bloggy.
R: I feel like most of us at the Chop Shop (Editor’s note: this was the name of our senior year housing, something we’ll undoubtedly cringe at in 3–5 years) have experience with one or more of the following — blow, Virginia, New York. So what better song to begin with than one about blow from rappers who call Virginia and New York home? Here we go.
DRUG DEALERS ANONYMOUS
by Pusha Ton featuring Jiggaman
E: Before we even got started on the track, we had to talk about how Jay Z has managed to con another friend of his into putting their music exclusively on Tidal.
How many times do we have to do this. No one uses Tidal. You’ve never been at a party where a Tidal playlist was on in the background. Your friend has never linked you a new song on Tidal. If the “streaming music wars” are indeed a thing, that would mean Apple is the Bloods, Spotify is the Crips, and Tidal is the roller-skating gang from The Warriors that gets killed off in the bathroom of Union Square station.
R: Sick film reference bruh. Love that movie.
E: All Tidal exclusivity really does is call attention to how Pusha isn’t quite as full-blown a star as G.O.O.D Music would have you think he is. I have undying respect for the guy, but…
E: With that out of the way, let’s maybe try and actually talk about the song. Right off the bat, respect to Pusha for name-dropping Valentino, a brand that no one is wearing these days but he clearly likes anyway. Pusha has a documented affinity for mixing streetwear with old-money European brands and I respect it to death. Never forget that this is a man who has rapped about Hermes throw pillows clashing with a Missoni couch (not just pillows, throw pillows).
R: Favorite part about the Missoni connection — we have a friend who’s in the Missoni family. I vividly remember telling him about Terrance’s line on Untouchable with a few friends around (“matching Missoni looks African on me”) and the young Missoni man, freshly rolled j in his mouth, giggling for a moment then saying, “yeah, that’s cool bro.” Good times. Good times.
E: Legit. But this is still more-than-respectable fashion knowledge. Apparently when no one else in the Re-up gang is looking, Pusha moonlights as your mom’s interior decorator, and still makes time in his schedule to record verses with Jay and move a few dozen bricks. 21st century renaissance man.
R: Don’t forget writing McDonald’s jingles. If the cocaine business ever goes south, Pusha’s still got that burger money to fall back on. Better investment than Tidal anyway.
E: We fucking hate Tidal.
R: But enough about Tidal. That’s it for this review. No more. Time to actually get to production notes. This song is produced by DJ Dahi, probably best known for crafting the banger that became “Worst …. REMEMBER? … MUHFUCKA?? …. REMEMBER??? WORST … NEVER LOVED US … REMEMBER???!! … Behavior” by pop-rap phenom Drizzle Drake. But I’ll always remember him as the dude who made Money Trees by Kendrick Lamar. Fuck does that song go.
E: Song was so good it made Jay Rock an actual artist for a change. “In the streets with a heater under my dun-gah-rees.” Name one other song that makes the word “dungarees” sound hard.
R: The beat is sparse, the key minor, the snare traded in for the sound of metal smacking metal in an empty cathedral — read that as work. It’s off-kilter, it’s simple; it is a stage for the main event: bars that’ll make you feel like you have two kilos in the trunk flying North on I-95 to sell white.
E: Even if you’re in your Mom’s CR-V.
R: Hustle is hustle, bruh. The beat is oppressive in its heavy repetition during Pusha T’s verse, only changing to pick up energy when the whirr of the money counter becomes palpable. Money is adrenaline for the despotic and the carrot for the burdened.
E: Are you reviewing this song from the perspective of Howard Zinn? Fuck it I guess we’re setting the tone early.
R: Then there’s that heavy ass synth that comes in right after Pusha’s yelp (“YAA!!!”) as Tomi Lahren — this Becky-ass heifer — chides Beyonce for her husband’s ye-slinging on her show “The Blaze.” Props to Dahi or whoever decided to use this clip from her show as the segue into Jigga That Nigga’s verse. I mean. Look at her. I was going to try and burn her as bad as the sun did on her right arm in this picture …
Even called in backup. Ultimately didn’t need it.
She shades herself, really.
E: Funny because not enough literal shade is responsible for that weird half-and-half tan she has going on. Like ma’am how did you even do that you look like a Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee that hasn’t been stirred and yet you still have the nerve to come at Beyonce on national television. Which is double foolish because it puts you in the crosshairs of both Black Twitter and Queer Twitter. You dun goofed.
R: Plus I was able to derail the conversation between Eamon and myself completely from music in general into compiling another list, the contents of which we’ll probably make a whole different post about later — but here’s a snippet of that convo:
E: Thanks Roger.
R: Oh I’m not done. Let me make a very concise tl;dr for y’all out there.
(h)wī • pēpō
a term used to identify the most undesirable of the caucasian race; usually of anglo-saxon descent, ignorant either of willing volition or malnourished cultural upbringing
E: With the phonetic alphabet and everything. ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED??
R: Anyway we have that Becky skit then Jay Z (no hyphen, not anymore) starts in on the Italian artists, something he and Pusha probably vibe on when they have brunch in Carroll Gardens or crab cakes in the Chesapeake or whatever the fuck rich ass, hustling niggas do on they jet skis while koi fish swim under they feet in the foyer (pronounced foy — yay) and convince they friends to sign to they respective labels and sports teams or whatever.
E: I maintain that Jay likes to namedrop artists because in about mid-2011 he started realizing Kanye was out-arting him and he started to try and play catchup. Remember when he rapped a song about Picasso 100 times at the Guggenheim with Maria Abramovic in the audience? Christ, just look at that sentence, that’s a semester of Contemporary Art 101 vocab.
R: So … anytime I see (featuring Jay Z) on a song these days, I immediately feel myself shift uncomfortably in my seat. Who’s gonna show up? Which Jay are we getting today? Is it the mean mugging, indignant hustler that we all fell in love with on Reasonable Doubt? The cocky self-made rap juggernaut on Blueprint? The laid back, two-stepping seasoned vet on a Neptunes track? If only. That Jay Z is as rare as a pre-release Raichu card.
E: And you give me shit for obscure references?
R: Who among us hasn’t played Pokemon?? Anyway, the best you get nowadays is the Monster verse — good, but not good enough — or my personal fav, the pure level of idgafuckery that is his verse on the first version of Pop Style by Drake. Nigga had 3 bars bruh.
E: Two! Two bars! But you’re right. We’re living in the era of undercooked Jay Z. Most memorable thing he’s done in recent memory is the verse on Drunk in Love… which even then was pretty mids. So while this isn’t anywhere near early-to-mid period Jay… or even as good as a late period song like Brooklyn We Go Hard… it’s still the best Jay Z we’ve heard in a very long time.
R: Real talk though, other than the fact that he’s sounding his oldest and most out of touch on parts of this record (damn son, multiple Google references? did you just find out about this shit like yesterday?) this is the hardest I’ve heard Jay Z go in recent memory. Best verse in at least the last four years. AND HE HAD BARS. Dude’s verse eats up over two minutes of a four minute song that has a fifteen second intro and thirty second outro (fav line: life made me ambidextrous / countin’ with my right, whippin’ white with my left wrist). DDDAAAAAAMMMNNN DDAAANNNNIIEEELLLLL.
I forgot to talk about Pusha’s verse. It’s good. Like what do you want from me. It is exactly what I expect from a person whose moniker is Pusha fucking Ton. It’s coke, money, coke money, vices, and overcoming the odds. And what I expect from Pusha is exactly what I want.
E: But it’s getting a little bit predictable, isn’t it? I mean, I’m always going to respect Pusha T for never rapping about anything other than coke, coke money, and coke money-related problems, but I feel like he’s running out of material now that he’s what, 15 years deep in the game?
R: Don’t give a fuck personally. Keep it up Terrance.
E: Yeah, but in every song, you have:
- Reference to an old-ass European fashion house (matching Missoni/Valentino/Hermes)
- Reminder that he’s just using rap music to hide his coke profits (I go diamond on my blocka/platinum on the block)
- Reference to expensive car, followed by reference to a less expensive car used to transport cocaine while avoiding attention from the feds
- Newly-crafted title about being king of the cocaine game (Legend in two games like I’m Pee Wee Kirkland/Grand Wizard of the Almighty Blizzard/L. Ron Hubbard of the Cupboard)
- Superfluous verse from Ab-Liva
- Money counter/gun noise
- White celebrity’s name used as coke euphemism (too many to count)
My point is at this point you could literally play Pusha T cliche bingo. In fact, I’m making that as soon as I can find a decent crack of Photoshop.
R: Make it by the time King Push comes out. We can hold a raffle (I’d win). Also let’s go ahead and pretend that “L. Ron Hubbard of the Cupboard” isn’t one of the most FUCKINNG FUEGO 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 LINES you’ve ever heard about moving dope.
E: No, no doubt. I LOVE watching what he can do with the subject matter. I will always have time for him (and No Malice, whenever he wants to get this reunion tour going) and anything he puts out. But let’s wrap this up before this turns into a novel.
R: Aight. Wanna explain the scoring system?
E: Yup. We’re going zero to five on this blog, because thumbs up thumbs down is too general and Fantano has a lock on the 0–10 scale. And Pitchfork has always been kidding itself by thinking that you can hear an objective difference between an album rated 7.2 and an album rated 7.3.
Five means you should pay cash money for whatever we’re reviewing.
Four means you should definitely listen to it, ideally on a platform where the artist might see some $ for their efforts. Highly recommended.
Three means torrent that shit… but only if you feel inclined.
Two means we really think you should miss this one.
One is some sort of visceral objection to the album/song. This shit sucks.
Zero is irredeemable trash with no good qualities that we could imagine anyone enjoying.
R: So what you think a four on this is?
E: Uh, a four would be… the last Chance the Rapper record. Really great, but with enough caveats that I could see why someone could argue against liking it.
R: Good thing that shit is free.
E: Alright, shit example, but you get it.
R: I want to say this is a four but I can’t really recommend you get Tidal for this. This isn’t Lemonade or anything.
E: Agreed. Sort of a soft four. Listen to it, but save your money for when the album drops. I’m gonna sleep.
R: And that’s that.
4 / 5
next review? suggestions? message us on FB. or don’t. whatever.