TDE’s Ray Vaughn Bars Up With Pusha T on ‘Problems’

Cool Tutors

The two rappers are in sync though generations and regions apart

Top Dawg Entertainment signee Ray Vaughn is joined by relative rap veteran Pusha T on his new single “Problems.” The nearly four minutes of straight lyricism connects not only generation but regions, with Ray Vaughn from Long Beach, California and Pusha T famously raised in Virginia Beach. “Let em label me a backpack rapper/Turn to a school shooter/All they top five get hit/Unless they cool tutors,” Ray Vaughn raps early on, leaning into his identity as a serious wordsmith in an era where hip-hop can be anything, as well as his willingness to lean on the greats — Pusha T would be one of them.


Pusha T’s guest verse marks his first time on wax since October’s “Mr. Put That Shit On” with CyHi. He spends his quick appearance shouting out Ray Vaughn’s label, asserting his longevity, and offering the young MC a warning: “New rappers trying legends for the notch/And every has-beens interviews are watched/Listen Ray Vaughn be clear of your peers/’Cause in a couple years, it’d be musical chairs.” 

As the cover star of Rolling Stone’s 2022 Grammy Preview issue, Pusha T said his eye is always on new highs, not past peaks. “I don’t want a lifetime-achievement award,” he said. “If I’m not doing hip-hop at a high level, I won’t do it anymore. And it’s fine. But the fact that the music is coming out like it is — that’s my new marathon, to show how long I can keep going at this level.”

Ray Vaughn joined TDE in 2021 after racking up a series of independent releases that impressed the label’s founder and CEO, Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith. “He’s like the boogeyman, because if you don’t know him, you don’t know what to expect,” Ray Vaughn told Billboard of an early meeting with his soon-to-be boss. “He tells me to play him [my] records. I played them — and he let me keep playing, then asked how I felt about TDE. I said it was my dream label, and all he said was, ‘Welcome to your dream label.’”