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Pusha T - Daytona artwork
Pusha T’s Daytona artwork

Pusha T’s new, Kanye West-produced album is out – and its artwork is grim

Daytona uses an image of Whitney Houston’s drug-filled apartment as its cover

Pusha T has released his new album Daytona. It’s a trim seven tracks and 23 minutes long, and it comes entirely produced by Kanye West – the first of many upcoming records produced by the artist, kicking off this year’s unofficial Yeezy summer.

Daytona is a really really good album, and despite all his recent Trump-loving, there’s no denying that these are some of Kanye’s gnarliest beats for ages. But the music was immediately overshadowed by the album’s artwork – a particularly gross image of the late Whitney Houston’s drug-filled bathroom. The image originally appeared on the cover of National Enquirer magazine in 2006, and according to Pusha T, was licensed by Kanye at great personal expense.

Speaking on The Angie Martinez Show on Wednesday, Pusha T explained that Daytona already had artwork shot, selected, and sorted for the record, but on a 1am whim the previous night, Kanye decided to change it – and he spent $85,000 of his own money to do so. Kanye was reportedly adamant: “This is what people need to see to go along with this music,” Pusha T said.

It’s an unpleasant image. Houston died aged 48 in 2012 – the coroner determined that she died by accidental drowning in a bathtub, though cocaine and heart disease brought on by drug use contributed to her death. Kanye may be nodding to paparazzi culture once again with this – TMZ regularly pay big money for tragic photos and stories, after all – by turning these paparazzi images into ‘art’, much like in his Yeezy Season 6 lookbooks. Alternatively, it could a way of confronting the reality of the drug dealing image that Pusha T expresses in his music head-on. Still, the images really are grim, and it feels exploitative to use someone’s suffering in this way.

Elsewhere on the album, Kanye responds to the criticism surrounding his ‘provocative’ Twitter opinions with a guest verse on the track “What Would Meek Do?” It opens with a “Poop! Scoop! Whoop!”, calling back to the recent “Lift Yourself”, before he raps: “Am I too complex for Complex Con? / Everything ‘Ye say cause a new debate.” He talks about his self-confessed opioid addiction (“Seven pill nights, who know what that feel like?”) and notably brings up Trump, though he doesn’t mention the president by name. “If you ain’t drivin’ while black, do they stop you? / Will MAGA hats let me slide like a drive-thru?”

For what it’s worth, Pusha T does not endorse Kanye’s politics. “It’s just another one of many things we disagree on,” he told Angie Martinez. “It’s just a stance that I have. I’m totally against it.”

Listen to Daytona below, and look out for projects from Nas, Kid Cudi, Teyana Taylor, and Kanye himself later this year.