Pusha T drops in to Cuse for “A Conversation with Greatness”

Pusha T drops in to Cuse for “A Conversation with Greatness”

The hip hop mogul sat down to discuss his path to success during an event hosted by Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.
Published: November 4, 2019
Hip-hop artist Pusha T speaks at Goldstein Auditorium on Nov. 1, 2019.
Throughout the event, Pusha T touched on a variety of topics, including his initial ventures into the music industry as well as his efforts to help communities through the "Third Strike Campaign."

Friday night, King Push stopped by the Goldstein Auditorium for an intimate conversation with students. During the conversation, the rapper and G.O.O.D. Music president talked about everything from his favorite artists and travel destinations to his role as a record label executive and his Adidas shoe collaborations. He clued students in with some useful advice while telling his story on what it took to get where he is today.

For Terrance Thornton, aka Pusha T, it didn’t start with a love for music. There wasn’t even an understanding of what it took to be a good rapper, delivering messages that people could really relate to. T was into his schoolwork. Writing music was something his brother Gene liked to do, but Pusha T’s mind was on business. He liked to watch public television, mapping out his life based on the different jobs he saw on TV, and steal his brother’s rhyme books in his free time.

Even in reading the things his brother wrote, T still didn’t understand why Gene wrote them. He didn’t get why music was so important. He didn’t understand half of what his brother was talking about. To him, this job was “for the guys on TV.”

Then, his brother became his mentor, really taking time to educate him on hip hop. To show his appreciation for the attention he received from his brother, T took time to learn the things Gene was passionate about. Eventually, those became his passions too.

“He taught me everything there is to know about rap. He taught me the criteria of like, what is the taste level that you should be at. He taught me like, ‘that’s a get-over line, don’t just say that, you gotta go better than that,’” said T.

Growing up with a lyrically-gifted older brother and his musically-inclined friends like Timbaland, Pharell, and Chad Hugo, T’s career as an artist was inevitable. Today, the love and admiration for the guys who molded Terrance Thornton into Pusha T runs deep and can be heard in how he speaks about them.

“It was him as far writing goes, and then the Neptunes as far as production and marrying the beat and actually being animated and just understanding where to take a song, even formulating a song. I didn’t know anything about bars, how many was that? I’ma just rap til I’m done. I credit those guys for all of that. Definitely my brother for instilling in me, just the criteria for the pen.”

For Pusha T, the biggest key to being successful and carrying out your dreams is “staying focused and being very realistic about your passions.” However, his background story really spoke on what it means to be grind your way to success. It took focus to buckle down and get serious about his talents. Having staunch determination led to a record deal. Operating with an open mind and stepping outside of his comfort zone led to working with producers like Flume and Skrillex. Being curious and having a passion for growth is what brought a collaboration with Adidas and Call of Duty. The keys for greatness can be found in Pusha T’s story. He surrounded himself with like-minded individuals and never quit, allowing his rejections to propel his career forward.

Hip-hop artist Pusha T speaks at Goldstein Auditorium on Nov. 1, 2019.
Pusha T shares his story with students at Goldstein Auditorium.

Today, Pusha T is one the most influential voices in hip hop. Although he’s the president of Kanye West’s music label, he’s still an artist, now with the luxury of being able to put his attention into his different passions. One of his biggest passions is fighting to see change in his community. His latest project is the formation of the “Third Strike Coming Home” campaign. T partnered with the “Third Strike Campaign” and lawyers MiAngel Cody and Brittany Barnett to fight for the freedom of people serving life sentences for drug charges. For him, this fight isn’t about doing what’s cool or popular at the moment,

“I’ve always been into criminal justice reform at all levels,” the rapper said. “I’ve seen it happen so much. Many of my friends have ended up in federal prison, first-time offenders with 34 years, 32 years, nothing to do with murder, all nonviolent, all drugs. I just feel like it’s a bit unfair.”

His fight is part of what T believes people should do with the platforms they are given. He realizes he’s able to do more so he strives to do more. His ultimate goal in life is to build up his community to be self-sustaining and self-governing.

“As we grow, we have to do something else that shows where we at with it and what we’re trying to do to change.”

The night couldn’t end before Pusha T shared who his favorite hip hop artists are.

“One is Gunna and the second one is Tierra Wack. Tierra Wack is underground but she’s coming. You watch it. She’s NIIICE!”

He continued to praise the up and coming hip hop artist by likening her “quirky flows” to those of Missy Elliot.

Pusha dropped one final gem before heading out to California to perform at the Complex Con.

“I just think, stay focused and really know what it is that you wanna do and really mapping it out. Those with the plan, you can make it happen.”