Daytona was a genuine masterpiece. After over 20 years, it was unexpected for Pusha T to find a way to move an already legendary discography to the next level. Somehow though, he took his craft to an unseen level. Daytona featured consistently flawless and biting lyricism from rap’s King of Coke. All set to the tune of beautifully grimy Kanye production. It quickly became a classic and you would be hard-pressed to find a single rap listener who doesn’t like Daytona.
Attempting to follow up on a recording as beautiful as Daytona is quite a tall task. While It’s Almost Dry is not nearly as prolific as Daytona, it’s a more-than-serviceable effort. On the subject matter, it’s still the drug-fueled rap that Push has built his career off of, but it delves into his upbringing more often than we’ve seen in the past.
After being absent as a producer for most of Pusha’s recent work, Pharrell returns to produce nearly half of the album. He often draws from early Neptunes and Clipse collabs with the same fun and experimentative style that catapulted the duo to fame. It’s Kanye West that picks up the rest of the album. This album’s Kanye-produced tracks are, unsurprisingly so, mostly soul-sample-based. Having two producers with different styles exchanging credits on one album could be dangerous but they mesh well to make this album flow.
The album opens up with the Pharrell-produced “Brambleton” and “Let the Smokers Shine the Coupes”. “Brambleton” serves as a diss to former Clipse manager Anthony ‘Geezy’ Gonzalez. After Geezy’s revealing Vlad TV interview, it was somewhat expected that the author of one of the greatest disses of all time (see “Story of Adidon”) would make his rounds to a former friend.
“Let the Smokers Shine”, reportedly inspired by Raekwon’s “Glaciers of Ice”, is the most abrasive and frenzied track on the album. As one of Push’s more lyrically-thin songs, the enveloping production takes the spotlight.
Kanye’s first track on the album, and my personal favorite, “Dreamin’ of the Past” comes up next. Initially featured on early Donda tracklists, Pusha told Charlamagne Tha God in an interview that he begged Kanye to let him put it on It’s Almost Dry instead. Set to a sample of soul legend Donny Hathaway, “Dreamin’ of the Past” is a reflection by both rappers on their current high-end lifestyles and the ambition of their past selves to reach the point they’re at now. Pusha delivers some of the best verses of his career and Kanye gives us a short but clever verse to end the track.
The heavily teased Jay-Z and Pharrell featured “Neck & Wrist” follows. The two former dealers reunite for the first time since “Drug Dealers Anonymous” and deliver comparatively underwhelming verses. It’s Pharrell that yet again delivers as the addictive chorus is the star of the show.
On “Just So You Remember” and “Diet Coke”, Pusha showcases his technical prowess on sample-based Kanye production. Push rides both beats to near perfection with ingenious wordplay like “My workers compensated so they don’t strike” (referring to both a labor strike and a strike on the criminal records of his underlings). He performs similarly on Pharrell produced “Call my Bluff” and “Open Air”.
“Rock N’ Roll” has become the most newsworthy track as it features the last collaboration between Kid Cudi and Kanye West. After a recent falling out, fans were initially hopeful that this track signaled that their beef was over. Cudi put that rumors to bed as he quickly clarified that it was recorded before their falling out.
Hey! So I know some of you heard about the song I got w Pusha. I did this song a year ago when I was still cool w Kanye. I am not cool w that man. He’s not my friend and I only cleared the song for Pusha cuz thats my guy. This is the last song u will hear me on w Kanye -Scott
— The Chosen One : I 💖 YOU FRESHIE 4EVER (@KidCudi) April 19, 2022
Looking on the positive side, “Rock N’ Roll” will function as a great parting gift as both Cudi and Kanye offered up wonderful melodic features.
“Scrape It Off” features Lil Uzi Vert and Don Toliver. The far younger artists keep up well with Push as Don Toliver gives us a great chorus and Uzi a great verse.
“Hear me Clearly” is a song that we heard very recently on Nigo’s album “I Know NIGO!“. While it is rare to have the same song used on two albums that are released only a month apart, its appearance on It’s Almost Dry is well deserved.
It’s Almost Dry closes with a grand gospel-style track in “I Pray For You”. Kanye and Labrinth produce. Labrinth, best known for his work on the Euphoria soundtrack, belts the intro where he sets the gospel tone of the track. Push reunites with cousin and Clipse partner Malice for the closing track. Pusha reflects on his storied career in an even more subdued manner than we see in the tracks before. Malice closes off the album with beautiful insight into the trauma of his time as a cocaine dealer and his newfound Christian faith.
The Final Verdict: 9/10
Pusha gives us the braggadocious coke rap that we are accustomed to and it does not disappoint. Besides that, he surprises us with more emotional tracks that reflect on his traumatic life and upbringing. Kanye more than holds his own as a producer but it is Pharrell’s that truly gives this album. Stacked with features from rap legends, It’s Almost Dry is a hell of a project.