By Nadeska Alexis with reporting by Rahman Dukes
Pusha T's solo debut is finally set to drop later this year, and while it seemed obvious that the G.O.O.D. Music rapper would be working closely with Kanye West on the project, he also took a surprising turn, linking up with The-Dream for some guidance on crafting the perfect tracks.
Over the weekend, MTV News caught up with Pusha in Atlanta, where he was in the studio working closely with The-Dream. The two first linked up when producer RicoBeats sent one of Push's tracks to Dream for a feature and eventually collaborated on a few more things. In addition to lending his vocals to the album, The-Dream has been guiding Pusha through the recording process, helping him take his work to a new level.
"It really started with this beat [from] Rico. We were like, 'Yo, Dream would just sound amazing on the record, period.' So we sent it out and it came back so quick. Dream was like, 'Man this is one of the ones,' " Pusha recalled. "Personally, I never thought the record was going to come back that quickly. I was in New Orleans somewhere and Rico was like, 'Aye! Dream did it — he on the phone!" I thought, "OK, wait a minute this might really be something."
Pusha wouldn't reveal exactly how many tracks the two had banked together, but he explained why the R&B singer/producer is the perfect fit for this album.
"Musicality, to me in general, is missing, but [Dream] is a musician, he's a fundamentalist. I've really taken on the student role," Pusha continued. "I feel like I'm in with the best of the best. You've got Dream on one end, you've got Kanye on another end, and you can learn so much. I really look at myself as just a rapper's rapper, but I've learned so much about song structure from Dream.
'This is the most I've ever rewritten," he added. "I wrote the 'Automatic' record, sent it to Dream, and he was like, 'Aye, you rapping too damn much,' and I'm like, 'OK.' How [would you not] listen to the writer of everything? How [would you not] listen to the producer of everything?"
The-Dream was just as enthusiastic about working with Pusha on the album. "I always personally felt like he was one of the best at what he did, period," Dream said. [There's] lots of guys that are great from a rap standpoint, but in songs they're not as great. Sometimes [you need to say], 'Hey, move this part here and this is your hook,' or 'Let's write about this, or let's tap that emotion and let's not rap past the emotion of where it is.' "
For the producer, who has banked countless hits for stars like Rihanna and Beyoncé, it all comes down to focus on proper songwriting and structure. "Compare it to great people, whether it's the B.I.G., whether it's Tupac," Dream explained. "I remember in '96 ... when 'All Eyez on Me' dropped, I wanted to see the credits, and I seen DeVante [Swing's] name — I seen this R&B guy do it. If you really notice, R&B guys actually did always make the best rap records."
Luckily for Pusha, he's got the R&B maestro on his side.
"It's a lot of pressure now, I think, for Pusha to do exactly what I knew he was gonna do, which is write a song," Dream said. "Like write it as a song, not as, 'I have to battle you guys. I'm going to say the hottest line next.' "
Pusha's album is sure to make a splash when it finally drops. On Wednesday, he released the RicoBeats-produced "Exodus 23:1," which seemed to take some subliminal shots at YMCMB. Lil Wayne tweeted one simple message after hearing the song: "F--- pusha t and anybody that love em."
Are you excited to hear what Pusha T's album will sound like? Tell us in the comments!