Good Music/Def Jam Recordings/***1/2
The hip-hop world was abuzz with the beef between high-profile rappers Pusha T and Drake last week, with the drama overshadowing the release of Pusha's third album, Daytona.
It is a lean, mean record, one that ditches frills and shallow bangers for crisp wordplay and expert flow from the former member of hip-hop duo Clipse.
The production is handled by Kanye West and Daytona is the first of a series of five seven-track albums that the controversial rapper/producer worked on that will be released weekly (Pusha's album came out a week before West's own album Ye).
The single The Games We Play tastefully samples the twangy guitar lick from obscure 1960s Texas R&B bandleader Booker T. Averheart's Heart 'N Soul, as Pusha waxes lyrical about his prowess and achievements in the rap game (This ain't a wave or phase, 'cause all that **** fades/This lifestyle's forever when you made).
Gruff-voiced rapper Rick Ross provides a counterpoint to Pusha's reedy voice on Hard Piano.
"I'm too rare amongst all of this pink hair," the latter raps in the song, a line that simultaneously references rap beefs and the new wave of rappers with neon-dye jobs.
It's not all braggadocio.
The track Santeria adds colour to the record as Pusha mulls over the tragedy of his murdered friend and road manager De'Von "Day Day" Pickett as raspy-voiced newcomer 070 Shake sings a Spanish refrain.
West drops a verse on What Would Meek Do?, referencing his recent controversial statements, such as his support for United States President Donald Trump (Everything Ye say cause a new debate), while final track Infrared criticises Drake for allegedly using ghostwriters.
Pusha's most incendiary Drake diss track, The Story Of Adidon, is not found on the album though. Containing verses that, among others, call out Drake on his "secret" son, it was only put out on YouTube days after Daytona's release and could have been the icing on the cake.
Eddino Abdul Hadi
HISTORICAL CLASSICS MARTHA ARGERICH EARLY RECORDINGS
Deutsche Grammophon 479 5978 (2CDs)/*****
The great Argentine pianist Martha Argerich, now 77, no longer performs solo recitals, so music lovers have to turn to her early solo recordings, which remain treasured documents.
Released in 2016, this Deutsche Grammophon album presents German radio recordings from 1960 and 1967 and is now issued for the first time on compact disc.
New to her discography are Mozart's late Sonata In D Major (K. 576) and Beethoven's early Sonata In D Major (Op. 10 No. 3), which are on the first disc and are exciting yet sensitive performances that show an innate affinity with the classical idiom. Although she is more associated with Romantic repertoire, her early training with maverick Austrian pianist Friedrich Gulda is telling here.
The second disc covers more familiar territory, but not previously heard is Prokofiev's single-movement Sonata No. 3. Argerich the teenager rips into it like a whirlwind and this rapid fire is also heard in the precipitous finale of Sonata No. 7 and the notorious Toccata.
In Ravel's Gaspard De La Nuit, she shaves off almost four minutes from her later studio version. This electrifying reading must be heard, tempered by the beautifully proportioned Sonatine. Her unabashed mastery of extremes is what made her piano's living legend.
Singapore audiences can catch Argerich at the 25th Singapore International Piano Festival next week.
Chang Tou Liang
- Martha Argerich will perform on Monday and Wednesday at the Esplanade Concert Hall. Go to www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555 for tickets