After a series of mixtapes, the Clipse star finally releases his fiercely unrepentant solo debut. One of hip-hop’s premiere MCs, Pusha T is at the top of his game with sharply defined autobiographical tales and defiant, self-aware verses. He often dazzles with his smooth, cold-blooded flow and connects on virtually every song. On the turbulent reflection, “40 Acres,” he seethes, “unpolished/ unapologetic/ this cocaine cowboy pushed to the limit.” These songs are more varied than Clipse’s claustrophobic meditations on coke dealing, but just as combustible. The disc is packed with guests including Jeezy, Rick Ross, and Kendrick Lamar, who unsurprisingly turns in the finest spot with a personal look at coke and its collateral damage (“Nosetalgia”). Sonically, this is one of the year’s more ambitious efforts with Kanye West, Pharrell, and others providing both power and pop smarts. Pusha wittily evokes a ’90s love jam complete with a Ma$e-like flow on “Let Me Love You.” It’s a rare curve he throws amid the serious heat. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “Nosetalgia”Ken Capobianco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.