Review written by Brad W. (@Brad_C_Williams).

“’Anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.’… The Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him” (Genesis 4:15). Whether he is creatively referring to the biblical fratricidal marked man Cain or to a certain white product he pushes in bulk, the title of Pusha T’s latest offering Wrath of Caine perfectly embodies his complex position in music going into 2013. Both in his relationship with his brother No Malice and the current hiatus of The Clipse, and his bold and precarious challenges of Young Money, his solo career has never shied away from confronting those who want to impede his success. Although he did not release anything substantial in 2012, Pusha’s contributions to “Mercy” and “I Don’t Like” on Cruel Summer brought his unique street sound to the collective – the kind of sound that moves listeners to images of harrowing black hoodies and fearless Jamaican ghettos. As a prelude to his highly anticipated album, Wrath of Caine delivers a substantial body of work to prepare us for My Name is My Name.

The dready introduction hearkens to his reemergence as someone to fear, likening himself as a God of the streets when he states that he’s “too much dope dealer… too much closer to every trap… just preachin’ facts” to his adversaries. Criticizing the current proliferation of hip-hop success, Pusha’s opening verse unabashedly sets the stage for him as the intelligent but threatening dope lorThe first three tracks of the album aggressively establish Pusha’s felon intentionality with effective high-profile features. Rick Ross’s verse on the Kanye/Southside co-produced “Millions” perfectly highlights both artists in their best element, ridiculing the naysayers while restoring “the feelin’ of when n****s made a killin’/Hidin’ choppas in the closet, half a million in the ceiling.” While I have heard many complaints concerning French Montana’s contribution on the hook of “Doesn’t Matter,” his brashness paired with Pusha’s poignancy works well and helps this record be one of the best on the entire project. Furthermore, the first verse includes some of Pusha’s best metaphors: “There’s a meaning to the kissin’ of the ring/The gods don’t mingle with the mortals/Peasants ain’t sittin’ with the kings/Goliath ain’t worried ’bout your sling/And Cassius ain’t bothered by your swings.” The ensuing production from Chicago’s hottest young producer Young Chop on “Blocka” and Jamaican-esque feature from Popcaan and Travi$ Scott overshadow Pusha’s role but still succeeds as a rebellious, intimidating anthem for the streets. All three of these tracks are perfect platforms for Pusha to demonstrate his inventiveness behind the mic and as a Pyrex pro/hip-hop renegade.

The production choices on Wrath of Caine worked well with Pusha’s vocal delivery. Besides the tracks mentioned above, the sharp high hats and snares combined with a beautiful airy synth from Harry Fraud on “Road Runner” featuring Troy Ave is not something expected from Pusha, but well executed and appeasing to listen to. The slow-riding piano, horns, strings, and ride cymbals on “Revolutions” from The Neptunes perfectly assimilate with Pusha’s flow for one of the best produced track on the entire tape. The most pleasant surprise from this mixtape was  !llmind on “Liva – Re Up Gang Motivation,” closing the album with a brief but hard-hitting statement of dominance.

While, for the most part, I enjoyed Wrath of Caine, there were some weak points. I enjoy both Kevin Gates on the chorus and Pusha as separate entities, but I was not vibing with the combination of two. Likewise, I really enjoyed the concept behind “Only You Can Tell It” as well as Wale’s feature; however, the high pitch of the sample is detracting from the simplistic and poetic nature from both emcees in their verses. My criticisms are minimal, though, and are simply tailored to my personal music taste.

To judge Wrath of Caine the same as a full-length LP would not be appropriate. Furthermore, I disagree with those who say that mixtapes should be looked at as albums, because artists who have already solidified their presence in the music industry do not seem to put forth the same effort as non-proven artists. That being said, Wrath of Caine is an enjoyable listen with deep production, aggressive vocal performances, and well-executed features. It functions as a respectable preclude to what is to come later this year with My Name is My Name, building expectations for what looks to be a major year for Pusha T and the G.O.O.D. Music family.

Download Pusha T’s Wrath of Caine here on UPC. Agree or disagree, let us know what you think in the comments!