"40 Acres": Pusha T ft. The-Dream
Production: Rico Beats & The-Dream
Album: My Name is My Name
You can't mention Pusha T without mentioning "The Story of Adidon" these days, and whilst that infamous diss track elevated his mainstream standing, it has left some of his pre-Daytona output in the dust, neglected in favor of his more recent releases. The bravado of 'Adidon' might be unparalleled, but many of the themes dealt with in the track - dark-skinned racism, parental discord and reclaimed stereotype - are treated more subtly and comprehensively in his 2014 solo debut My Name is My Name.
"40 Acres" stands out immediately on the album. Whereas much of the project features the brash, aggressive production of a post-Yeezus Kanye, "40 Acres" involves layers of harmonies sung by The-Dream, whose soft vocals set the tone for a more vulnerable Push. His snarly flow may grate against the beat on its entrance - 'Unpolished, unapologetic' - but soon Push is opening up first about his relationship with his brother Malice - 'My better half chose the better path applaud him/Younger brother me a spoiled child I fought him'. This familial theme is continued in the second verse as Push references his parents' split - 'Thirty-five years of marriage and my momma left it'.
Given the song's title, it seems appropriate to treat these lines within a racial context. Throughout his opus, Push has dealt with the pressures of black stereotype, and it is this theme that he flips in regards to Drake on 'Adidon'. The path of the 'cocaine cowboy' is a complex one. Through the references to his family, Push is depicting the path that was laid out for him - he is a product of his environment, a dark-skinned member of the Ronald Reagan era whose brother was kicked out the house for selling to survive. He mocks Drake's anxiety over not being 'black enough', but more crucially he mocks Drake for trying to deny his own blackness, as the stereotype will always catch up with him. Push has never blushed around his lifestyle, he celebrates his position on "40 Acres" as the 'tar baby transcending genres'. He has played the game and won. His final act in the song is characteristically defiant - he has earned back his reparations by emerging victorious from systems of racial oppression, and his choice is to throw it in their face - "We growin' poppy seeds on my 40 acres". Yugh.