Pusha T has come a long way from ripping up rhyme books. He signed his first record deal at 19 years old, and in the two decades since, he has seen dizzying highs and lows. We experienced some of the highs—the classic bars and critically acclaimed albums—along with him. But it’s the lows that helped him grow up: the end of Clipse, the group he formed with his brother, now better known as Malice, and the incarceration of some of his closest friends on drug conspiracy charges—a fate Pusha and his brother managed to avoid, despite, if you believe their lyrics, their apparent close ties to the operation. That was seven years ago. Today, Pusha is a grown-ass man, president of Kanye West’s record label G.O.O.D. Music, and a rap Hall of Famer with a renewed purpose: working with politicians (he campaigned heavily for Hillary Clinton), activists like Dream Hampton, and director Ava DuVernay to end the system of mass incarceration he narrowly escaped and shut down the pipeline that shuttles children of color from schools to prisons—particularly in his home state of Virginia.
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