Pusha’s Purge: Part 1

(Courtesy of Grailed)

Pusha T has never been one to mince words. Since 1992, the wicked wordsmith has told harrowing accounts of drug dealing, astounding tales of excess and reckoned with his own place within it all. Today, though, Pusha T is a different man. More than his lyrics, your “favorite rapper’s favorite rapper,” is emblematic of a different kind of artist—one that relies on consistency, storytelling and, above all, a signature tenacity to maintain dominance. 
With last year’s Daytona, Pusha T released his most accomplished solo album to date, leading to numerous accolades, including his first ever Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album. Much like his lyrics, his wardrobe is anything but subtle, the result of thoughtful and careful consideration. Master of the low-key flex, Pusha T has quietly taught a generation how to be impactful without being loud, and how cultivating one's image is a true art form. Prior to the 2019 Grammy awards, we sat down with Pusha T to discuss his life, music, wardrobe and, following arguably the album of his career, what we can expect next.
[I personally follow Pusha’s Wife and their dog , don’t judge me . But a couple months ago she was cleaning out their old condo and I felt like she was cleaning out a department store. He is actually selling these items and that’s dope . Giving the fans to get a walk into his closet .]

Grailed: Let’s go back to Virginia Beach. How did your neighborhood influence not only your music, but also your personal style?
Pusha: Man. Virginia Beach, I have to say, was a melting pot for all types of people. During that time, the years in which I was growing up, we had a heavy, heavy New York influence.
Virginia Beach was like the first Miami Beach. It was the first South Beach. Before there was Freaknik in Atlanta, or Memorial Day in Miami, it was Virginia Beach. We saw everything. Every rapper was talking about coming to Virginia Beach. It was in everyone's bars. You just got to see all of that energy, all of that style, all of that influence.

"Be a risk taker, number one, but also be identifiable. Have your style be identifiable and separate yourself."

Do you remember the first piece of gear that you saw as a kid where you said to yourself, "Damn I gotta have that."

I can’t necessarily say the first piece, but I will say that I had a older brother. I have two older brothers, one is my partner, Malice. I have another older brother who's older than than both of us. I remember, he used to have the shearling coats. My brother and I were born in New York, but we were raised in Virginia, but he was born in Virginia and raised in New York. I would see him with the long shearling coats for the winter time, with the hoodie under it, and I would think that was the freshest thing ever. I'd walk around the house with it on, but of course I couldn't fit in it. He has to be 15 years older than me.
Then having my brother Malice, who is five years older than me and was my partner at the time, in Clipse. I remember him having airbrushed Shirt Kings T-shirts from The Mighty Shirt Kings. I remember I was like, "Oh my God, I gotta have that." This is on top of things that was going on in rap. You can go back to adidas and Run DMC, the Snow Beach, the Wu-Tang videos where Raekwon would be draped in all the illest shit. Those are some of the highlights of my younger years.

At 14 you met Pharrell. What impression did he make on you as a teenager? Was his style something that you took cues from or tried to emulate?
What people don't know is, Pharrell has always been fashion-forward. When I met him, he was local. He wasn't in the game, he wasn't making money. We were riding our bikes through the streets type shit. Still, he was always fashion forward. 
When we started playing with the idea of doing music, I was just learning from him. He always said, "Man, be a risk taker, number one, but also be identifiable. Have your style be identifiable and separate yourself.
I used to look at him and say, "Wow, this guy is way out there. What can I do to be just as noticed, but just make it my own?" He taught me balance, and he taught me how to determine what was hot, because I wasn't worried about being forward, necessarily.
Pharrell wasn’t competing with anyone. I just wanted to come back outside, and be like, "Oh, you ain't got these," and make them be like, "I want it." Pharrell didn't care who was seeing it on the street wanted it or not, he was just like, "This is what it is, you guys will catch up later."

"I knew that once I got to G.O.O.D. Music, I had to upgrade my style. I knew that I had to step it up."

For your own style, you have said you don't really necessarily care about designers, or even about fashion, per se. But you also mentioned being identifiable — having a signature. How has the Pusha-T signature changed?
I think now it's definitely about being functional and comfortable. Definitely starting my solo career was around joggers, sweats—making it look leisure, but making it look luxury at the same time. We did it with all the shoes and Balenciaga arenas that were downstairs. So much so actually, they gave us our own color.
At the time, we were spending so much. There was one weird green colorway that they made. They were like, "This is just showing off. Y'all done broke us down so much." Whatever you see in this collection, imagine at least two more people with that same collection. 
Did those consumption habits ever taper off, or have you always been buying in doubles? 
I don’t know. I think during that time, we just had the look nailed down so strong. It was sweats, Balenciaga Arenas, and that's what I just wanted to wear. I've always been trying to make a uniform for myself. I don't just shop just to shop.
Looking back, you rocked the uniform with those Ale et Ange hats with the crazy patterns. Was there some method to the madness?
Yeah, just how we styled things. Looking back at old photos, it’s just like, "Damn, I can't believe I stepped out like that."

You don't have to play yourself, though.

I'd probably rethink those leather sweats. They're just so impractical if you do anything physical as a rapper.

When you went solo, you essentially made this transition from one production legend (Pharrell) to another (Kanye). Was there a similar kind of mindset that you adapted from Ye as from Pharrell?

Well, no, but I will say this: I knew that once I got to G.O.O.D. Music, I had to upgrade my style. I knew that I had to step it up.

"Rocky has a heavy influence on trends. There’s always Pharrell and always Kanye too; those guys are fashion gatekeepers—young and old."
Do you feel like you were slacking, prior?

No, no, no, I just knew that it was a different vibe. Walking into those doors of G.O.O.D. Music, they have a certain aesthetic. It was all things that were, I feel, derived definitely from the Pharrell Williams catalog of fly. But, Ye had his spin on it.

Ye put me on to brands that I wasn't as knowledgeable about, brands like Phillip Lim; he definitely put me on Dries Van Noten. I always felt like an oddball out at G.O.O.D. That's when I found Marcus, my stylist. I found Marcus and Brennan, they were a duo at the time. We were bumping into each other in spots like Miami, and I’d have on all BAPE everything. They'd be like, "How'd you do that?"

Ironically, I saw them later at the Agenda conference in Vegas. I was like, "Man, you two. Yes! I need help. I'm about to do some things. I just wanna do something different. I need you guys to help me with that." They're like, "Oh, for sure."

We were already just familiar with each other, style-wise, in passing, but that’s that came together. Once I got over to G.O.O.D. Music, I was ready. I was like, "What do I have to do?" I felt like the oddball

Oddball in what sense?

I was the “dope boy” here next to more conscious, backpack rappers. It’s like, “how do I dope boy this high fashion?” That was my take on it, and that's always been my take on it.

I used to be like, "Man, I have to get into my Slick Rick bag." Slick Rick would have on Louis cardigans and Gucci things with the gun in it. I thought "Oh, nah. Let's play. Let's look at that."

Do you feel like those changes helped you mesh with the G.O.O.D. Music camp?

Yeah. Well, I felt musically, we were all eye-to-eye. I'm a fan of what they do, musically. They're a fan of what I do. It's just not the same subgenre of hip-hop. But I felt like I just never wanted to come into the fold and be lacking.

Mind you, they're taking the Paris photo, and they're doing things that had me like, "Oh, nah, I'm not messing with that, but I'm gonna do my shit my way." They were just very hip though; I was put on to numerous things via Ye and Don C, especially.

"I think a lot of people get shit fucked up, because they always wanna be the man, when really everybody's the man."

You've always said that your style evolves with the times. Who or what, in your opinion, dictates these kinds of cultural shifts?

Hip-hop. It's the music. The music and the gatekeepers who mesh fashion and music together. I feel like, on the younger tier, Rocky has a heavy influence on trends. There’s always Pharrell and always Kanye too; those guys are fashion gatekeepers — young and old

Even different regions around the world spread their influence. You look at everybody now with the cross-body satchels on. I'm in Japan all the time, and they've been rocking that forever! I can just see where things get taken from, even on Instagram.

Speaking of Instagram, I saw a photo of you and Gully Guy Leo on his account. These young kids have so much power.

Pusha: That's my guy, and he's fly super fly. He's cursing me out on what I'm doing right now! He's like, "Why you doing this? Why you doing that? Why?" I gotta answer to Gully Guy Leo. You guys hear that?

"We made Daytona together, but this is mine. This is Grammy nominated. This is my shit."

For years the press has called you "Your favorite rapper's favorite rapper.” How did you become the man behind the man? How did you master the subtle flex?

I have always believed in a team and playing your role. That came from a whole street mentality—having a gang mentality of how shit works. Nobody was ever more important than anybody else.

I think a lot of people get shit fucked up, because they always wanna be the man, when really everybody's the man. Everybody plays their particular role. Everybody's so important. It's always just about the team.

People are like, "Wow, you've been out for a long time. You've been out as long as Ye, how could you be the president of G.O.O.D. Music?" I'm like, "Well, I was more focused on the artist shit, he was more into his label and artistry." He just felt like I could do the job. Being a role player, if you feel I can do it and you’re going to give me opportunity, I'm going to do it for the team—let's do it.

It's always been like that with me. When I say that I wouldn't want to make a pop record like Ye, I'm not saying nothing bad about it, I'm just saying that ain't my role. My role is over on something different. We made Daytona together, but this is mine. This is Grammy nominated. This is my shit.

Did you ever feel that commercial music was your lane?
No. Not if it didn't happen organically. For instance, I don't think an artist like Halsey sings on my hood. She's great, but I don't think she does music that represents me or my fan base. What I try to do is make music for my fan base, and hopefully I make it good enough that it reaches out to other people. To me, that's the best way.

You mentioned The Grammys. Your most recent record Daytona is nominated for Rap Album of the Year (your first nod for the award). Considering the occasion, how are you approaching the Grammys red carpet?

Man! I'm thinking about it. We're all thinking about it, now. It's a big deal to me, because I personally don't know anybody has made a variation of an album like Daytona that went on to be nominated for a Grammy. I don't think there's ever been a more street album nominated for a Grammy. I don't think that the content and the rawness of a Daytona has ever seen a Grammy stage.

There are artists who have been nominated for Grammys who have had those points in their career, I just don't think it's happened with that particular project. Ultimately, they had to make the pop record to get nominated.

"I think rap-wise, nobody rapped better than me in 2018."

So with that being said, it's such a victory within itself to me. I don't know if I'm going to go full tuxedo with tails and shit—a top hat! Maybe I’d come through super corner boy; I couldn't tell you. We’re trying to figure out right now what's more of the statement — I want to celebrate.

I think it’s really good too because The Grammy's has switched how they do the rap categories. There's a new way of voting, nominations, everything. I remember watching the Grammy's and feeling like, "Oh, no, this isn't even it." Now I'm looking at my category, and I'm like, "Wow. I have definitely co-signed everybody in my category at least once.” I haven't seen it this good. So, there’s so many things to celebrate that I don't know how to come to the Grammy's right now.

What are your thoughts towards the artists you are up against?

I think they're all great in their respective places. I just don't think any of them have made a better album than me. I've liked all of them, I've played all of them. I just feel like they didn't do a better version of them, than I did of me. That's just it. I think rap-wise, nobody rapped better than me in 2018.

To check out the items from Pusha's closet -

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