Pusha T performing in July 2013
|Birth name||Terrence LeVarr Thornton|
May 13, 1977|
The Bronx, New York City, New York
|Origin||Virginia Beach, Virginia|
Terrence LeVarr Thornton (born May 13, 1977), better known by his stage name Pusha T, is an American rapper and record executive. He initially gained major recognition as half of hip hop duo Clipse, alongside his brother Gene "No Malice" Thornton, with whom he founded Re-Up Records. In September 2010, Thornton announced his signing to Kanye West's GOOD Music imprint, under the aegis of Def Jam Recordings. In March 2011, he released his first solo project, a mixtape titled Fear of God. Thornton released his debut solo album, My Name Is My Name, in October 2013. In November 2015, Kanye West appointed Pusha T to take over his role as president of GOOD Music.
Pusha T was born Terrence LeVarr Thornton on May 13, 1977, in The Bronx borough of New York City, though the family soon relocated to Virginia Beach, Virginia, where he and his brother, Gene Thornton grew up. As teenagers, the brothers both sold drugs, with Gene eventually being kicked out of their parents house after they discovered what he was doing. In 1992, he and his brother began to pursue a career in hip hop, forming a group known as Clipse.
Shortly after forming Clipse, the brothers were introduced to record producer and fellow Virginian Pharrell Williams, who helped them secure a recording contract with Elektra Records in 1997. After being signed, they began working on their debut album, Exclusive Audio Footage. After recording the entire album, they released one single, "The Funeral", which was commercially unsuccessful and eventually led to the release of the album being cancelled and Clipse being dropped from the label shortly after. Despite not being signed to a major label, Pusha T made numerous appearances on other artists' songs, appearing on Kelis' 1999 single "Good Stuff" and Nivea's 2001 single "Run Away (I Wanna Be with U)", respectively.
In early 2001, Pharrell Williams signed the duo to Arista Records through his recently established Star Trak imprint. Clipse released their commercial debut album Lord Willin' on August 20, 2002. The album debuted at #1 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-hop Album chart and #4 on the Billboard Hot 200, fueled by the strength of the 1st two singles, "Grindin'" and "When the Last Time", which peaked at #30 and #19 respectively on the Billboard Hot 100.
In late 2003, Clipse began recording material for their second album, Hell Hath No Fury. However, further work on the album ground to a halt in 2004, when Arista Records's urban artists were absorbed into its sister label Jive Records as part of a larger merger between Sony Music Entertainment and BMG. Due to contractual requirements, Clipse was forced to stay on Jive, while Star Trak and the rest of its roster moved to a new home at Interscope Records. While Clipse resumed work on the album, and eventually finished its recording, the duo became increasingly frustrated with Jive, as the label overlooked it in favor of the more pop-oriented acts on its roster, which caused numerous delays in the release of Hell Hath No Fury. As delays continued, the group asked for a formal release from its contract. When Jive refused to grant this request, the duo sued the label.
On May 9, 2006, Clipse finally reached an agreement with Jive Records to release the album through Re-Up, along with Jive. Hell Hath No Fury was finally released on November 28, 2006. It spawned two singles: "Mr. Me Too" with Pharrell Williams and "Wamp Wamp (What It Do)" with Slim Thug. While the album received a great deal of critical acclaim, its sales were modest, at 78,000 in the first week. The hip hop magazine XXL gave the album a "XXL" rating, marking it as a five-star album. At the time only five albums had previously received that honor. In a May 19, 2007 interview with Eye Weekly, Clipse revealed that the group had been officially released from its recording contract with Jive. After this, the duo began discussions with several record labels, eventually signing with Columbia Records on October 26, 2007. The follow-up to Hell Hath No Fury, titled Til the Casket Drops, was released on December 8, 2009 via Columbia Records. In a departure from the group's previous works, which only featured production from the Neptunes, the album features production from Sean "Diddy" Combs' production team The Hitmen, and DJ Khalil among others. The album did not fare as well commercially as the group's first two albums, peaking at No. 41 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
2010–11: Solo career; GOOD Music signing
Following his signing with GOOD Music in September 2010, Thornton was featured on a number of fellow label mates' projects such as Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy appearing on his hit "Runaway" and premiering the song with him at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards on September 12, 2010. He was also featured on several tracks from West's GOOD Fridays series and made other appearances on Swizz Beatz's Monster Mondays series, Lloyd Banks' H.F.M. 2 (Hunger for More 2) and tabi Bonney's Fresh, respectively. On the week of December 16, 2010, Thornton signed exclusively with NUE Agency. On February 11, 2011, Funkmaster Flex debuted Thornton's first solo offering on New York City's Hot 97. The track, titled "My God", was produced by Hit-Boy and was generally well received by the public. Soon after, the song leaked onto the internet, however was not officially released through iTunes and Amazon until August 24, 2011.
On March 21, 2011, Thornton released his first solo project, a mixtape titled Fear of God, which included "My God" and featured freestyles and other original songs. Soon after he began working on his debut extended play (EP) Fear of God II: Let Us Pray, which initially included four songs from the mixtape and five new songs. On August 31, 2011, it was announced Thornton signed a solo record deal with Def Jam. The EP was originally set to be released on June 21, 2011; it was pushed back to August 23, and for a while September 27, 2011, was believed to be the date; however, on October 6, 2011, Thornton announced the EP was set to drop November 8, 2011. In addition it was revealed he added four more songs to the EP making it 12 tracks rather than just the nine tracks that were previously announced.
The first single from Fear of God II: Let Us Pray was leaked onto the Internet on July 8, 2011. The song, titled "Trouble on My Mind", features Odd Future frontman Tyler, The Creator. The EP's second single, "Amen", was released September 13, 2011. The song, originally meant for Young Jeezy, was produced by Shawty Redd and features verses from Kanye West and Young Jeezy, respectively. After the EP's release on November 8, the project debuted at number 66 on the Billboard 200 with 8,900 copies sold in its first week released. It also entered at number ten on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, at number eight on Billboard's Top Rap Albums, and at number 25 on its Digital Albums chart.
In 2011, Thornton appeared on the second season of the HBO series How to Make It in America. He played the role of a henchman for Urban Caribbean League. After the release of his EP, Pusha T started working on solo debut studio album, which would be executive produced by Kanye West. Thornton has stated that after his solo album and the Re-Up Gang mixtape, Long Live the Cane, he and his brother No Malice, would reunite and release another album. In late 2011, English pop singer Pixie Lott released "What Do You Take Me For?", the second single from her second studio album Young Foolish Happy which featured Pusha T. The song was a hit single in the UK, peaking at number ten on the charts.
2012–14: My Name Is My Name
On October 19, 2011, Kanye West announced via Twitter plans for a Spring 2012 GOOD Music album release. On April 6, 2012, "Mercy", the lead single from the GOOD Music compilation album Cruel Summer was released. The song, produced by newly signed in-house producer Lifted, features Pusha T along with Kanye West, Big Sean and southern rapper 2 Chainz. On May 24, 2012, Pusha T released a song titled "Exodus 23:1" featuring The-Dream. It is speculated that the song is a diss track aimed at Young Money rappers Drake and Lil Wayne. This resulted in a diss-song by Lil Wayne, which Thornton did not respond to, but called "horrible" in an interview. He was featured alongside West on the third single for Cruel Summer - "New God Flow". In October 2012, Pusha T made an appearance on the soundtrack to the film The Man with the Iron Fists on a track titled "Tick Tock" alongside fellow American rappers Raekwon, Joell Ortiz and Danny Brown.
On October 8, 2012, Thornton released "Pain" featuring southern rapper Future, the first single from his debut album. That same day Spin magazine reported that Pusha T's debut album had been pushed back until 2013. While performing in Vancouver, Canada, it was reported that Pusha T announced he would be releasing a mixtape entitled Wrath of Cain preceding the release of his debut studio album. Later in November, Thornton announced the title of his debut studio album to be, My Name Is My Name. On December 5, 2012 Thornton released "Blocka" the first offering from his Wrath of Caine mixtape. The song features Travis Scott and Popcaan. The music video for the song was released on December 11, 2012. The mixtape was released on January 28, 2013 along with his album coming at the end of the first quarter of 2013. In January 2013 it was announced that Pusha would be performing at the 2013 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
My Name Is My Name was scheduled to be released on July 16, 2013, but was pushed back to October 2013. It received universal acclaim from critics. My Name Is My Name debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200, selling 74,000 copies in its first week of release. The album includes production from Kanye West, The Neptunes, The-Dream, Just Blaze, No I.D., Nottz, Don Cannon and Swizz Beatz, among others. In an April 2013 interview with AskMen, Thornton revealed that shortly after his debut album is released, he would finish working on his second album, titled King Push. In 2013, Pusha T provided guest vocals over a Vice remix of "I'll Be Gone" for the remix album, Recharged, by American rock band Linkin Park.
2014–present: King Push – Darkest Before Dawn and Daytona
In a July 2014 interview with XXL, when asked about his plans for his next album, King Push, Thornton said: "This next album is like a heavy proclamation to me. I told people last year I had the 'Album Of the Year'. And I felt that I did. I really feel that King Push has to live up to that same hip-hop expectation... My goal is always to have 'hip-hop Album Of the Year'." On November 19, 2014, Thornton released a single titled "Lunch Money", produced by Kanye West.
In December 2014, Thornton announced his second solo album King Push, for a Spring 2015 release. In May 2015, he had announced his second album would be released in June. On November 9, 2015, Thornton revealed to Billboard that he had been appointed president of GOOD Music.
On November 12, 2015, Thornton released a single titled "Untouchable", produced by Timbaland. On November 23, 2015, it was announced that Pusha T would release a new album Darkest Before Dawn before the aforementioned King Push album. It was released on December 18, 2015 and has been described as "a prelude" to the King Push album. Darkest Before Dawn has hit over 17 million streams in its first week. On May 31, 2016, Pusha T released the lead single off his upcoming King Push album called "Drug Dealers Anonymous" featuring Jay Z, on the streaming service Tidal.
In a June 2016 interview, former record executive Steve Stoute revealed that Thornton had written the McDonald's "I'm lovin' it" jingle. Thornton later confirmed the news on Twitter. However, this claim has been disputed by advertising executives who created the campaign, and a McDonald's marketing executive. Neither Stoute nor Thornton have commented on the dispute.
In 2017, he collaborated once again with Linkin Park on the song "Good Goodbye" off the band's seventh studio album One More Light. In the same year, Pusha T collaborated with the virtual band Gorillaz on the song "Let Me Out" from their studio album Humanz.
On April 19, 2018, Kanye West announced on his Twitter page that Pusha T's King Push album would be released on May 25, 2018. On May 23, 2018, Pusha T announced on his Twitter page that he changed the album title from King Push to Daytona. The album garnered controversy when West spent $85,000 to acquire the cover art: a photo of Whitney Houston's drug-filled bathroom. Not only did the content of the album cover cause outside controversy, but Pusha T claims to not have agreed with the price West paid for the photo.
After Pusha T released "My God", the first single from his solo mixtape, his former GOOD Music label-mate Consequence took to Twitter and claimed Pusha T stole his flow and lyrics from a song of his that Pusha T was supposed to appear on, titled "The Last Supper". On July 22, 2011, Consequence released a song titled "The Plagurist Society" where he takes shots and questions Pusha T's coke-dealing raps. Towards the end of the record the Queens native promises to take aim at Kanye West next saying "You're nothing but a body shield, for that coward from the mid-west/ so yes you can bet, that your boss is next". Pusha T responded to the diss track when he appeared on Chicago's 107.5 WGCI's The Morning Riot and said nobody is looking for Consequence, as for if he would respond on a record, Pusha T went on to say "At the end of the day I am an artist and this whole rap thing is fun to me, so I can't say you won't hear nothing, but to go back and forth with him, it's not right, I won't get anything out of it." Later that day, Consequence called in to Chicago's WGCI's The Morning Riot in retaliation to the remarks Pusha T made about him. He also premiered a song titled "Everybody Told Me 2 (Straighten It Out)" where he disses West, Pusha T and GOOD Music in general. Since then Pusha T has responded to Consequence on a record. The song was the remix to Ace Hood's "Go 'N' Get It" which also featured Beanie Sigel, Busta Rhymes and Styles P. In the song Pusha raps "Consequence, nigga, talk is cheap You don't want a problem? Off the beef Before I off his ass with his awful teeth". On August 19, Consequence released Movies on Demand 3 and continued to diss his former label and Pusha T on songs such as "Career Killer" and "Mr.RapFix (Hot Water)". On September 15, 2011 Consequence appeared on MTV's Rap Fix and announced his feud with Kanye West and GOOD Music was over. While out in Chicago in October 2011, Pusha T appeared on WGCI radio for a second time, and confirmed that the "beef" was indeed over, that it had died out and they have moved on. In January 2015, the two officially ended the feud when Consequence took to his Instagram page to let the people know: "All G.O.O.D. in 2015, Pusha [T] and I deaded everything and we creatively vibed with Kanye for this new LP."
Tension between Pusha T and rapper Lil Wayne had been going on for years, beginning soon after Clipse and Birdman worked on "What Happened to That Boy", the latter's 2002 single. In 2006, Wayne felt the Clipse song "Mr. Me Too" was directed at him, and in 2012 Pusha T's "Exodus 23:1" song caused Lil Wayne to vent on Twitter, later releasing a diss track titled "Goulish", in which he says "Fuck Pusha T and anybody that love him / His head up his ass, I'mma have to head-butt him". Pusha T has called Wayne's diss track "horrible" and said he felt it did not deserve a response. Both men have downplayed the feud, with Wayne saying he is over it. However, in late November, Pusha T dissed Wayne and Birdman on a new Ludacris song titled "Mad Fo" from his "#IDGAF" mixtape. Pusha T later revealed his motivation for the verse: "Oh because it's a Swizz beat. You got to blame Swizz. See, when Wayne got a Swizz beat... with the "Ghoulish" track; he got busy, well he tried to."
After the release of Pusha T's song "Exodus 23:1" in 2012, Drake seemingly responded to Pusha on the intro to his 2013 album Nothing Was the Same, calling Pusha T a "bench player acting like a starter". The two directed subliminal disses towards each other between 2012 and 2017 with Pusha T rapping on the song "H.G.T.V", "It's too far gone when the realest ain't real / I walk amongst the clouds, so your ceilings ain't real/ These niggas Call of Duty 'cause they killings ain't real / With a questionable pen so the feeling ain't real," with Drake later responding on the diss track "Two Birds, One Stone" questioning Pusha T's drug dealing past.
Pusha T further escalated the feud on the song "Infrared" from his 2018 album Daytona, where he accused Drake of using a ghostwriter. Drake responded to the song less than one day later, releasing a track titled "Duppy Freestyle" where he insults both Pusha T and Kanye West, accusing Pusha of being a fake drug dealer and claiming that he would boost sales of Pusha T's album just by dissing him. Pusha T responded to Duppy on May 29, 2018 with the track "The Story of Adidon" which featured Pusha responding to Drake over the instrumental of Jay-Z's 2017 single "The Story of O.J." The song debuted on Hot 97 and has lines directed towards rumors Drake has a illegitimate child and his producer's multiple sclerosis. The song's cover art also attracted controversy, showing an unedited picture of Drake wearing a Jim Crow t-shirt and hoodie and blackface makeup.
Awards and nominations
|2003||"Like I Love You" (as part of Clipse, with Justin Timberlake)||Best Rap/Sung Collaboration||Nominated|
|2013||"Mercy" (with Kanye West, Big Sean and 2 Chainz)||Best Rap Song|
|Best Rap Performance|
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