Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mixtape Review: 'Wrath of Caine' (Grade: C+)

The best word to describe Pusha T's newest 11-song mixtape is probably exactly what he intended it to be, appetizing. The last installment we received from Pusha was Fear of God II: Let us Pray from November 2011. Although the G.O.O.D Music affiliate has made his presence felt on some of the major records of last year, including "Mercy" and "I Don't Like (Remix)", Wrath of Caine emerged as the lyricist's prelude to his upcoming album My Name is My Name. This preluding appetizer delivers the same raunchy, drug-based content associated with Pusha T's accredited style, but essentially succeeds as no more than what it is meant to be, an appetizer.

Wrath of Caine begins with an unrelenting intro where Pusha begins, "the dead has arisen", establishing his perceived wrath with a beastly proclamation of his return. That mentality presses on with "Millions", co-produced by Kanye and featuring Rick Ross, perhaps the most trap-friendly song on the mixtape, causing Pusha to ask, "this shit sound like God don't it?" We get a hard-nosed potential anthem from "Doesn't Matter", produced by The Renegades and caressed by French Montana with a seemingly appropriate auto-tuned hook. "Blocka" is blessed by producer Young Chop as the only competition for "Millions" as the trap anthem for Wrath of Caine. With help from jamaican dancehall artist Popcaan and Travis Scott, this thumping record is best classified as Jamaican trap, with typical bars from Pusha about cocaine and guns. Needless to say, the first portion of this mixtape represents it's most notable high points.

Aside from the aforementioned records, Wrath of Caine could just as easily be considered an underachievement. "Road Runner" doesn't nearly do Harry Fraud justice with a lifeless chorus from Troy Ave and two concise verses from Pusha. I was confused by "Trust You" more than anything else, mainly because the feature artist Kevin Gates at best sounds like the auto-tuned benchwarmer for Future. The record's concept is based on Pusha trusting a girl with his drugs and money, an admirable attempt, but clearly mistaken. "Take My Life" is another questionable endeavor with two solid verses from Pusha that don't necessarily emphasize his incomparable lyrical prowess.

I'm not willing to go all the way to disappointment for Wrath of Caine because of how I've come to accept it. This was clearly not Pusha's attempt at putting out material that would have listeners begging for more, but rather to hold them over. It is worth noting that "Revolution" gives a minute-and-a-half of familiar Neptunes production behind Pusha's more genuine lyricism about his drug dealing past and struggling rise in the music industry. It is also worth noting that "Only You Can Tell It" is one of the more satisfying, thought-provoking listens on Wrath of Caine, and provides a verse from Wale that surprisingly matches that of Pusha's. But a lack of thorough consistency, including "Re-Up Gang Motivation" which Pusha doesn't even rap on, earns this appetizer it's deserving grade as we anxiously await the main course.

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