“I really can look back at 2018 and really look at it as a total win,” Pusha T says.

At a time rap easily dominated as music’s top genre, his 21-minute, seven-track “Daytona” album was one of the year’s most successful hip-hop projects.

Beyond that, he won his rap beef with Drake and picked up a Grammy nomination for best rap album.

“No one rapped better than me in 2018,” says Pusha T, 41, who has been making bold statements like that every since he was one half of the duo Clipse two decades ago, winning praise for his raw lyrical content and delivery.

He reached new heights this past year when he exposed Drake on “The Story of Adidon.” Drake never responded to the burning diss track.
The Kanye West-produced “Daytona” followed, debuting at No. 3 on the pop charts and landing on several critics’ year’s-best lists.

The album got a Grammy nomination for best rap album in a highly competitive year, with Pusha T up against Cardi B, Travis Scott, Nipsey Hussle and the late Mac Miller. He got that nod over performers including Drake, Lil Wayne, Eminem, J. Cole, Nas, Migos, DJ Khaled, Nicki Minaj and West himself.

Pusha T says that when the Recording Academy added a nomination-review committee to the rap category last year as an added check and balance, he felt like he had a stronger chance of getting a nomination.

“Maybe not never in my life had I ever thought about getting a Grammy, but I remember hearing about it and saying, ‘Damn, man, that’s pretty dope. I can’t wait to see how that turns out,’ ” he says. “I was really impressed with the effort of the Grammy committee and how they were trying to change the way of doing things. Now, when I look at the nominees, man, we got a tough category, and all of those albums are albums that I rock with.”

In an interview, Pusha T talks about his Grammy nomination, Drake’s omission from the best rap category and more.

Question: What does it feel like to see “Daytona” up for best rap album?

Answer: Man, for me, the Grammy nomination is just the icing on the cake.

I remember, like, being young, super-young and looking at the Grammys, I used to never see my favorite rappers up there.

As I got older, and my favorite rappers were being nominated, they went through a whole boycott period. I remember rappers boycotting the Grammys. Then, ultimately, time moves on, and I got to see some great ones — Jay-Z, Kanye West — receive a Grammy.

To be nominated for what it is that I do, and what I’ve done — I’ve been very consistent for what I’ve done in the rap game — it’s amazing. I don’t know if there’s ever been any rapper [nominated for a Grammy] who has embodied the streets so much and with this level of content and this level of pure artistry. I don’t know. This is really just the streets talking right here.

Q: Was it surprising to get a nomination because the album is shorter than most?

A: Sometimes, you have to change the silhouette. I feel like that’s what we did, we changed the silhouette. And I guess seven tracks isn’t … time-wise, it does say it’s eligible. I don’t think anybody left feeling unfulfilled.

Q: What were some of your favorite rap albums that were not nominated?

A: I actually liked Jay Rock’s album a lot. He’s probably one of the ones that I felt like really put together a really strong project, rap-wise.

Q: Were you surprised that none of the other Kanye West-produced projects were nominated?

A: I felt like Kanye getting a producerof-the-year Grammy nomination is due in part to his output and how he had to turn into a chameleon to do all these albums. I definitely felt like Teyana [Taylor]’s album was super-strong and could have definitely deserved a Grammy.

I do feel like my album was the most dialed-in and just laser-direct for a category. I feel like my album really hit the rap category directly.

If you look at the [Kid] Cudi project, Cudi and ‘Ye project “Kids See Ghost,” or the ‘Ye project, I don’t know exactly. I think those two projects could have danced in a few different categories.

Q: Were you surprised to not see Drake’s album in best rap album?

A: No, I wasn’t surprised. I think everybody needs to stay in their respective category. I don’t think me and him are in the same category.

Q: Are you working with Kanye again?

A: For sure.

Pusha T.

Pusha T. |  AP