Pusha T has spent a significant amount of time over the past year working on Cruel Summer, the forthcoming album Kanye West is putting together with the stable of artists signed to his G.O.O.D.
Music label. The Clipse MC describes the tracks he's rhymed on as "emotional hip-hop mixed with trap music," but he admits that despite all the work he's done on the album, he can only guess what it will ultimately sound like.
"I've done about 20 verses, but the album's still a mystery to me because I don't know what's made it and what hasn't," he tells Rolling Stone. G.O.O.D. artists Kid Cudi, Big Sean, CyHi, Common, Q-Tip, John Legend and 2 Chainz have all contributed vocals, as have a few artists not signed to the label, but the only one who knows what the final product will include is West, who has sworn off interviews ever since a tense Today Show tete-a-tete with Matt Lauer in 2010.
"It wouldn't be right if the element of surprise wasn't there for everybody involved except Kanye," says Pusha. "That's his magic, man."
The album originated as a companion piece to a surreal, grandiose 30-minute film that West debuted as a seven-screen experience at the Cannes Film Festival in May. So far two singles ("Mercy" and "New God Flow") have been released, and West previewed a few other songs, including "Way Too Cold" and another, possibly titled "Perfect Bitch," during an unannounced visit to a New York City club at about 1:30 a.m. on August 5th. Rumors have swirled about various producers on the project.
"There is some guest production," confirms Pusha. "But I've never heard anyone say in an interview who else is up there production-wise, so I don't want to be the one to spoil it."
All the secrecy is nothing new for West. Pusha first noticed it during the sessions for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
"In the studio there would be sheets of paper that said, 'No tweeting, no talking, no emailing, no anything. Do not talk to anybody outside of this studio room.' Then there happened to be a leak, and I remember Kanye ranting and raving, like, 'Fuck this! We're not going to ever work there again! We're going to work in hotel rooms!'"
West was true to his word. Pusha says Cruel Summer was recorded entirely in hotels. West also refused to email files to his collaborators.
"'Ye would call me and be like, 'Yo, I've got this ill beat,'" explains Pusha. "I'd be like, 'All right, send it to me.' And he'd say, 'No, I'm not emailing it.'" Instead Pusha's manager would have to fly out to pick it up.
If such behavior seems a tad paranoid, it may not be entirely unwarranted. According to Pusha, the email addresses of West and most of his G.O.O.D. Music family have been hacked repeatedly.
"We get bogus emails from each other, from hackers," he says. "I don't even open my emails. If [West's tour manager] Don C. emails me something, before I touch it, I call Don and say, 'Don, did you email me?' So with that being said, I understand keeping things quiet."
Cruel Summer is due out September 4th.
- Cruel Summer