Back by Popular Demand: Pusha T’s “M.P.A.” Video

Thomas Johnson breaks down the new Pusha T video and the rapper's growing versatility.
By    January 11, 2016

Thomas Johnson introduced Pusha to the negroni.

So this is Pusha T backpacking. It’s always a little unnerving to hear a rapper who made his career weaving tales about the rewards of narcotics trafficking, touch on the downfalls of such a life. You might expect to “M.P.A.” to be lavish, filled with half naked women, metal goblets clinking, champagne frothing, and  landing on said half naked women. It’s not.

From tag-team coke rap to menacing Young Money, Pusha T has made a career out of reducing things to the most necessary elements. Add a snarl here, a yuugh there. Minimalism is his uniform as much as braids, and “M.P.A.” doesn’t stray far from the usual M.O. He refuses to beat around the bush or hide behind metaphors. But there’s no bark, no teeth bared. This is the most tender King Push has ever sounded. The result is more honest for it, and considering the subject matter, honesty is paramount. What could, would, and has been used as fodder for depraved anthems is instead a careful list of observations from the more difficult side to reconcile.

Money, pussy, alcohol. The three vices held so dear to the hearts they often stop. None are new ground, but the manner in which Pusha tackles all three is singular. The first verse is a measured warning—weary not preachy. The third is a true tale of drunken fandom gone wrong in the back of the club. But it’s the second verse that really matters. The acknowledgement of mistreatment is noble. The display of saudade is one of the most poignant, progressive perspectives on gender politics a genre full of bad examples has had in years. Not often are realizations put as succinctly as, “You young and hot so why not?/The dealers is washed, the money is dry, so take your best shot/We can’t judge you cuz we ain’t hug you/We sent you off to other hoods and let them niggas fuck you.” It’s not an apology per se, but rather an acknowledgment. It feels more important.

The music video for the song is actually a fictionalized shooting of the music video for the song, including everything that comes with it. What’s interesting is its lack of focus on, well, the actual video. The female director is shown calling the shots as models wait for their scenes and a douchebag tries to snap a selfie before being escorted out by karma in the form of a large bouncer. Apart from Rocky, whose debauchery sticks out like a sore thumb considering the context of the song, there’s little by way of consistency in relation to contemporaries. Class, not kitsch.

A hardened pusher lecturing on behavior. The premise is iffy. But “M.P.A.” and its video work due to the dealer’s discretion. T’s had a level head about as long as he’s sold dope, and it’s a shame it hasn’t been a more prominent aspect of his narrative. Money, pussy, alcohol, reflection. A beautiful alchemy.

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