[The Chopping Block] Pusha-T & Ye Cookup Cohesive Crack on DAYTONA

In the chopping block by Cizzurp1 Comment

Welcome to [istandard] and welcome to [The Chopping Block], where we respond and react to music from the creator point of view. In the tradition of our classic Track-By-Track series, we get into the beats, bpms, mix, arrangement, penmanship, vocal production, panning, low-passing, mixing, mastering and more. Respect the creators!

In the midst of the Ye tweet storm on the day of J Cole's album release a few weeks ago, one release stood out for me.

As an OG Clipse fan, before most people knew who the Clipse were (Philly's Most Wanted - Street Niggas ) I was living in Norfolk in 2001. Lord Willin was my soundtrack. Their affiliation with Philly rappers only solidified it for me.

Album after album on Star Trek, I rode out with my favorite coke rappers. The Re-Up Gang came and went. Pusha-T signed with Good Music. A slew of posse joints were released. A couple sick mixtapes were dropped. Fast forward to 2013 and finally an album came. That album spurred a few of my favorite Push joints ever, Nosestalgia and Numbers on the Board. Malice wrote a book, went on tour with us and became No-Malice. The Clipse were put on ice. A few mixtapes and some features here and there were all we got from the President of GOOD Music. When the announcement was made, I was hyped for his latest album entitled "DAYTONA", which is a reference to the Rolex Daytona. which Pusha told Ebro, is his favorite watch. It starts in the 17K range if you're in the market for one.

Enough about watches. Its Pusha-T time. 7 Tracks all mainly produced by Kanye West. You can check the official credits here.  This review would have been done days ago, but the internet shit storm of Duppy and The Story of Adidon hijacked my ears. In order to really digest the music I decided to step back and give my ears a rest for a bit. Let's get into it.


Track 1 - If You Know You Know

Pusha-T (the hyphen is back) has mastered the art of the intro. Kanye gives him room to get a few flame bars in before dropping the fire. We get what feels like a 1/10 hi-hat and a bell. Kanye has mastered the art of vocal stabs. He tends to get them from multiple sources for one track. Feels like Reggae.

At about 36 seconds the slowed down sample loop drops and boy is it a good one. Twelve O’Clock Satanial by Air, a progressive rock band based out of Ypsilanti, MI. How did Ye find this record? Who knows, but that beautifully bright lead organ synth (Hammond B3 perhaps? Shout to Heron DeMarco) backed by a thumping kick and a nicely tucked snare is instant neck brace material. Hip-hop drums y'all.

The pocket is lovely and Push does what Push does. Ye brings in more vocal samples here and there to accentuate the artist. I can imagine this session in my head. I can feel the producer and the engineer and the artist carving this out. These ain't emailed records fam. The drops let Push puff out his chest and talk extra shit.

The beat is simple. A beautifully lifted lead from an ill sample. Dope drums and hats, expert drops and vocal stabs expertly DJ'd from the Ye drive. It's a perfect marriage between MC and Producer.

Track 2 - The Games We Play

This is MPC music right here. Find that break, chop that break, kill that break. The lead guitar break is courtesy of Booker T. Averheart - Heart N' Soul. I just feel Ye tapping pads although I know the same feat can be accomplished digitally. Some of the chops are so naturally not quantized. Sounds like a breakbeat drum loop as well. Bassline doing its job well. The stutter is so 90s. I feel all the influences in this jawn. Dilla, Pete, Large P, etc.

I just love when a beat has a bop to it, with a natural swing and an open pocket for real MC's to go in. I need the instrumental asaptually. Let's go in on a cypher. 

Shout to that Hov line too. Politics As Usual. If you know you know....

Track 3 - Hard Piano ft. Rick Ross

Heads might be familiar with this sample from Gangstarr or Pete Rock or Madlib but its a 9 minute plus record with a lot of ill sections yet unexplored. Hard Piano samples Charles Wright & Watts 103rd Rhythm Band - High As Apple Pie Slice II and that is indeed a hard ass piano. I appreciate Ye focusing on it. Its ugly and excited and soulful and frantic and hard. Pause.

The lift is clean. Feels like there is a slight filter on sample that further highlights the piano. A simple hat combo, kick and hip-hop snare accompany the lead. A minor piano lays under the verse section. The title should be Hard Pianos ft. Rick Ross and Pianos. Ross comes thru with a signature verse and we get a few Maybach vocals for the cause.  Who doesn't love her voice?

My only issue with this track is the transition into the hook. It felt rushed and it didn't really fuse the two the way I'd like it to have to. It was like a pause in the energy, but not enough to achieve the climax xit deserved. I love the pianos played over the sample. We get a few rising 808s. The vocals on the hook were cool . I understand the vibe they were going for but it wasn't executed to my liking. Overall, a solid record. Well-produced and tailored to the artists.

Track 4 - Come Back Baby

If you didn't know there were two different records sampled here, you'd probably never know, unless of course, you Googled it lol. The ability to take two completely different records with the same vocal tone is impressive. The intro comes from The Mighty Hannibal's The Truth Shall Make You Free" Now follow me through the mind of Kanye West for a second and remember that title.

The verse section is a very simple lead bass synth, kick, snare, hat combo. We're sticking to the theme of room to rap. The samples here are used more to set the tone and paint the picture than they are to make the beat.

The hook samples George Jackson's "I Can't Do Without You" and we get the title Come Back Baby looped in rhythm and time. You feel that soulful voice.

The really interesting part of Ye's choice of sample usage is that the first sampled record from The Mighty Hannibal actually includes several references to drugs and even says pusha. Ye had to have been tempted to use some of that for a vocal chop at least, but he was clearly on a particular wavelength already. The beauty of sampling is that there is so much potential meat in a good record. There are so many breaks and instruments and sounds to lift. Producers can use the same records and make completely different joints. We see that at our Sample Flip Saturday events all the time.

Ye wanted Push to be the star of the show, not the beats. He laid the table and played his part on this one. Another winner in my book.

Track 5 - Santeria (070 Shake Uncredited)

As soon as this joint came on I started singing "Drugs". Damn Ma, I love you like the lahhhhh. Funny enough, Re-Up went in over the instrumental on We Got It For Cheap Vol. 2. ("Get Familiar"). The OG Sample is from "Bumpy's Lament" by Soul Mann and the Brothers off the Shaft Soundtrack. It's one of hiphop's favorite records to sample. You may have heard of a song called "The Next Episode" from a producer named Dr. Dre.

The sample is warped a bit, slowed a bit but otherwise its instantly recognizable. Familiarity usually wins. The bouncy 808 kick slides under the sample with a simple snare and the now customary rolling hi-hats. Boom bappy, but current.

We got a drop and then a spanish ballad? What just happened? Kanye happened. The 808s are gone. We're left with a nice melody of some demure chords and a frantic drumline snare roll to accompany 070 Shake's vocals. You're leaving in the morning. The angels will wait. So let's talk about the picture being painted with the production. Push is lamenting the loss of his homie on this joint, Day Day, his former road manager who was killed in Philly a few years ago.

And the beat switches up again. The live cymbal crashes and live bass vibe feels like we went from a rap concert to a spanish funeral to an 8 bar rock concert and back to the funeral. That was a ride. Cedar Point for sure.

Track 6 - What Would Meek Do? Ft. Kanye West

Push said it's going to be a surgical summer. Ye was definitely surgical with the chops. The lead melody is lifted from "Yes"by Heart of Sunrise. Its pitched down and warped to achieve a nice eerie sound that lives throughout the entire record accompanied by some dark piano stabs, bassline, bass kick and snare with hi-hats shakin like a salt shaker.  That snare is boss. I love an unapologetically punchy snare. That's a fuck you snare.

Pillow Pocket Push. He feels extra comfortable on this joint. Ye's flow is also pretty comfortable on this joint. He's been hit or miss in that department since Yeezus for me but it works here.

Track 7 - Infrared

The 24-Carat Black is another favorite go to for crate diggers since the 90's. Ye grabs a loop from "I Want To Make Up", from their 1975 Album,  Gone: The Promises of Yesterday released in 2009 by Numero Uno. In the loop,the male vocal speaking throughout the record actually says infrared or something that sounds just like it (remember Breathe?).

I don't know their process, but the sample has the title and the subject so I'll assume this was made from scratch, cooked up in some odd location in Utah or Idaho or wherever they go to hide from civilization to make albums these days.

The Sample is looped throughout with additional instrumentation added. The lead is a bass synth accompanied by a deep bassline. The counter is a chime-like percussion tucked in slightly in the back. We get a drum, distorted snare combo to take it home. The arrangements are excellent. Every addition, drop, chord progression, etc on time and done around the vocalist.

I've heard lots of varying opinions on the production on DAYTONA. I've mainly heard criticism from other producers and beat makers. I've had the chance to live with this album for a week now and digest every sound, buildup, drop, cadence, vocal inflections, etc

Kanye West produced the fu*k out of this project. His ability to paint the pictures without painting over the vocals is something missing in a lot of music today. As a rapper, I appreciate vocal friendly beats. Yu can also clearly tell these records were baked fresh from scratch. The cohesiveness is apparent. Ten years from now, these records will still be dope and the sonic stylings of Mr. West have a lot to do with that. Maybe 7 was a good idea. Its a quick listen minus the constant repeating I did to catch nuances. Hopefully we get to hear some of the other material Push had soon, but for me DAYTONA works and it works well.


I hate the cover. I find it tacky and disrespectful. Push should have fought for that. It adds zero artistic value to the project.


Chief Operating Officer of {istandard} producers. Fake music snob. Anime x Soccer aficionado. All things Philly.