Saturday, September 7th, 2019

Pusha T ft. Ms. Lauryn Hill – Coming Home

When it all falls down, just pick it back up again…


Will Rivitz: People who clamor for the “old Kanye” will be thrilled about the conceptual meat behind this (Lauryn Hill! Chop Up the Soul Kanye! Chop Up the Beats Kanye!), but the, er, political developments of the past few years have left the trenchant political observations of The College Dropout in a tenuous place, and even if Pusha T is the one delivering these observations, the sound is so indelibly Kanye that their ruthless honesty feels wrong. That the beat itself sounds like it should have been scrapped fifteen years ago also doesn’t help.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: A triptych in critical leeway: Pusha T, the ostensible star of the track, has reclaimed his status as critic-bait superstar rapper of the moment three decades into his career. He could drop anything with a metallic beat and a coke pun and someone would call it the song of the year. Kanye West, its producer, is in a rapid and unending decline in prestige. Everything he does is subject to extreme scrutiny — scrutiny far beyond the half-baked material he’s putting out. And the esteemed Ms. Lauryn Hill, handling hook duty, is so far beyond the cycles of critical boom and bust that her presence on its own is noteworthy. “Coming Home” is a song about loss and redemption and struggling to survive, and the positioning of its performers in the pop pantheon shapes how it must be read. Every soul-tinged beat of Kanye’s production is nostalgic, both for the times Pusha T talks about and for the times the beatmaker himself was better loved. Each glorious bar Pusha T puts out isn’t just about what he’s always rapped about — the dopeboy’s triumph — but about his own, possibly temporary, triumph over the vicissitudes of the industry. And when Ms. Hill raps about “setting captives free” it’s all the more powerful — she is the only truly free person in all the industry. Yet even if we disregard the metatextual elements that make “Coming Home” so interesting, it’s still a wonder of a song. It’s soul-tinged and nostalgic without being chintzy, hard-edged without falling into grimness. But it’s impossible to abandon the context, even as you’re listening to it. The song gives itself away. The staccato beeps of the beat and the slaps of the drums are not new to me — they were repurposed, a year after this song was recorded, for a 2016 Sia promo single. Even in its own microhistory, “Coming Home” is a masterwork on how to survive and persist.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Coasts on the legacies of its artists and producers, feeling like serviceable nostalgia-bait for fans of everyone involved. Pusha raps like vintage Kanye, which doesn’t play to his strengths as a rapper or lyricist — he’s only a degree or two removed from “I’m Lovin’ It” here. It’s nice to hear Lauryn Hill’s voice, though.

Thomas Inskeep: Push sounds great (as always), the production rat-a-tat-tats (literally), and Hill’s presence is a reminder of her past glories. That said, I’m a creature of habit: I prefer Pusha T when he’s delivering coke raps.

Alfred Soto: Pusha’s crisp enunciation is his weakness too: he wants us to notice the obvious lines, the too clever rhymes — he’s the Carly Simon of rappers. Like any sentimentalist, his reminiscences are vaguer than he thinks, a bit like Lauryn Hill’s part.

Oliver Maier: Pusha T can deliver a solid verse in his sleep and Lauryn Hill’s voice still packs the same benevolent magic, elevating the uninspired lyrics and so-so melody of the hook into a miracle. It’s Kanye and his boys on production duty who let the track down, contributing a dreadful Old Kanye™ pastiche that fared just fine as an #inspirational backdrop for Sia but stifles Pusha’s insights on race and wealth under its saccharine bombast. 

Reader average: [4] (1 vote)

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3 Responses to “Pusha T ft. Ms. Lauryn Hill – Coming Home”

  1. wonderful little blurb from soto

  2. Thanks, Joshua!

  3. Is this the leader for controversy this year? Would another 7+ score have gotten it there?

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