Last Friday, Pusha T released his long-awaited third studio album. Known through development as King Push and Blowbama, the album ultimately arrived as the seven-track, Kanye-produced Daytona. Defined by a swathe of bold choices - a brief runtime, an incendiary album cover and a publicly embattled producer - the record squared up against another much-awaited LP by A$AP Rocky. Unsurprisingly, the winner was hip hop itself.
Now well into the second decade of his career, Pusha has risen from a fledgling talent to a label head. Daytona is the culmination of this journey: released without singles after years of anticipation, the fleeting twenty-minute LP still proved worth the wait. Underpinned by retro soul samples and '90s hip hop interpolations, Push talks his place in the rap game, the pitfalls of success, the loss of a friend and, of course, the art of moving bricks.
Though the subsequent Drake diss and rap game theatrics quickly overshadowed the content of Pusha's album, Daytona stands as one of his most impressive and cohesive records. We've celebrated Push's long-awaited comeback by breaking down the handful of already-identified samples on the record, the first instalment of 2018's ensuing Yeezy season.
"If You Know You Know"
A bold opening, "If You Know You Know" finds Push waxing poetic before the full force of the instrumental kicks in. It helps frame Pusha's outing as uniquely his - whilst much of the hype surrounding the album has focused on Kanye's return to producing, Daytona is Pusha T through and through.
The electric guitar that bursts forth at 0:36 is taken from Air's "Twelve O' Clock Satanial." One of just two tracks recorded by Air - the other being the b-side, "Jump Back" - "Twelve O'Clock Satanial" was quietly released in 1972, when the group's three members were still in high school. The group disbanded shortly after graduation, and "If You Know You Know" marks their first sample.
"The Games We Play"
A slow, old school soul sample and an East Coast interpolation appear on "The Games We Play," another track about living large and moving weight.
The retro instrumental underpinning "The Games We Play" is built around a slowed sample of Booker T. Averheart's "Heart 'N Soul." The 1968 single is just one of four released by the artist.
"The Games We Play" marks just the second time that Booker T. Averheart has been sampled: the first was another sample of "Heart 'N Soul" by artist Oh No, a Stones Throw signee and the brother of producer Madlib.
The lyric at 1:26 - "ain't no stopping the champagne from poppin' / the drawls from droppin' / the lord from watchin'" - is lifted from "Politics As Usual," the second track on JAY's classic debut, 1995's Reasonable Doubt.
The titular "hard piano" is taken from Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band's "High As Apple Pie Slice II." It was originally included on their 1970 LP, Express Yourself.
The group are most famous for their hit title track, "Express Yourself," which was famously sampled on the N.W.A. track of the same name. How did they discover the sample? Eazy-E, known otherwise as Eric Wright, was Charles' nephew.
"Come Back Baby"
"Come Back Baby" juxtaposes an energised musical sermon with a laid-back soul tune, bridging the pair with a verse of brooding bass.
The bold, bombastic opening is sampled from King Hannibal's 1973 track, "The Truth Shall Make You Free." A single from his debut LP, the track peaked at #37 on the R&B Charts. Known as The Mighty Hannibal throughout the '60s, James Shaw released his debut album, Truth, as King Hannibal. It grappled with topics such as the Vietnam War - which he'd previously covered on his most famous hit, "Hymn No. 5" - and drug addiction, with which Shaw himself had struggled.
The old school soul track sampled at the chorus is George Jackson's "I Can't Do Without You." It was included on Don't Count Me Out. The Fame Recordings Volume 1, a 2011 compilation of Jackson's unreleased Fame Records recordings, dating from sometime in the late '60s.
Jackson's best known track remains Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll," which he co-wrote alongside Thomas E. Jones III.
Whilst the samples on "Santeria" have proven difficult to identify, the songwriting credits give important insight into the tracks and artists involved. Aside from Kanye, Pusha and producer Mike Dean, one name stands out: Stax soul legend Isaac Hayes.
Kanye's sample can be traced back to "Bumpy's Lament," the source of arguably one of hip hop's most identifiable samples. The second track on the 1971 Shaft OST, it was performed by Soul Mann & the Brothers but written and produced by Hayes himself. It would become Hayes' most successful album, though he sung on only three tracks.
The sample was most famously flipped by Dr. Dre on his 2001 track, "Xxplosive."
Hayes' contributions lead to another track with striking similarities to "Santeria" - Lil' Kim's 1996 track, "Drugs." That song also samples Hayes' "Santeria," but the similarities between the opening of "Drugs" and the opening of "Santeria" are far clearer than any connection on "Bumpy's Lament."
"What Would Meek Do?"
Undoubtedly the track that prompted the most interest on the track listing, "What Would Meek Do?" was a late call. Originally titled "How Do You Respond," it finds Push confronting his place in the rap game whilst invoking the trials of Meek Mill. It acts as a prelude to the album's final track, "Infrared," in which he contends with Drake's infamous 2015 diss track, "Two Birds One Stone." Kanye makes his only vocal appearance, his fourth pre-album release, following "Lift Yourself," "Ye vs. The People" and his verse on Travis Scott's "Watch."
The looping instrumental is taken from the opening to Yes' "Heart Of The Sunrise," the closing track on the group's 1971 record, Fragile. Their fourth record in just two years, Fragile marked the beginning of Yes' most commercially successful period. An eleven-and-a-half opus by a fittingly ambitious English prog rock outfit, the track has since become one of their most performed songs.
At 0:40, Pusha interpolates the hook from Makaveli's "Hail Mary."
Makaveli was the final pseudonym of Tupac, and his fifth and final LP, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, was the only record released under the name. It was recorded in early August 1996, a month before Pac was shot and killed. Suge Knight released the project just four months after Pac's death.
The most talked about of the tracks on Daytona, "Infrared" singlehandedly incurred the wrath of a perpetually-ready Drake. Within a single business day, Drake had responded with the "Duppy Freestyle," an outright takedown of Push and Ye. What's more, he invoiced G.O.O.D. Music for $100k, citing "promotional assistance and career reviving."
The key sample is taken from 24 Carat Black's "I Want to Make Up." An Ohio-based soul outfit, 24-Carat Black released just one album, 1973's Ghetto: Misfortune's Wealth. "I Want To Make Up" is taken from a 2009 compilation of their unreleased work, titled Gone: The Promises of Yesterday.
Matching Daytona's, Rose Gold On Us...
This won't be the last we see of Pusha T. Whether it's his ongoing rivalry with Drake or the swathe of G.O.O.D. Music albums appearing over the next month, Push seems to have a few more appearances in him yet.
Years of delays demand a project worth the wait - like Frank Ocean before him, Push has returned to the scene with a powerful, redeeming statement. Daytona finds Push at the top of the game, standing amongst emcees that inspire both fear and reverence. With any luck, more of the G.O.O.D. Music roster will join him there soon.