Pusha T, formerly 1/2 of the Hip Hop group, The Clipse, dropped his second, solo studio album a couple weeks ago. King Push- Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude dropped on December 18, 2015 and I can’t tell you how excited I was. Pusha T’s presence on a track is pure brillance and it has been for about 20 years now. His cold hearted street tales and drug rap is on another level when it comes to the typical “trap rapper.” Let’s not forget that Pusha T has three albums from his time rapping bars with his brother in, The Clipse. He proves that he can stand alone, as he has released a solo album and mixtape as well. Pusha signed with G.O.O.D Music and 2010 and has since made impactful guest appearances and features. His debut solo album, My Name is My Name was released in 2013. That album was solid but was not well received by the masses. A few months ago Pusha announced that a new album was coming titled King Push. No one had any idea that Pusha would drop a prelude album. Pusha T came out of nowhere with this album and it was much needed in hip hop. He has to be one of the most under appreciated lyricist in hip hop but hopefully heads will turn with his latest project. His efforts certainly warrants attention and respect. Only real music heads can appreciate Pusha’s lyricism. and his unmatched cadence. Pusha has been blessing us with gems for over a decade, maybe since “Money, Cash, h**s” if you really think about it. Let’s not forget him and his brother Malice dropped Hell Hath No Fury in which many critics and publications dubbed that album as a classic. The Clipse dropped three albums with Pusha carrying a lot of the lyrical weight. Since signing with G.O.O.D. music imprint, Pusha T has been better than ever lyrically. Kanye knew what he was doing when he signed Pusha, as everyone in the industry knows how much of problem Pusha is with the bars. Pusha was appointed to President of G.O.O.D. Music, a little over a month ago and that speaks volumes to what type of artistry he posses. Many people questioned if Pusha T would succumb to the sophomore solo jinx but in my opinion he shows the opposite. This album displays growth in content and versatility in delivery. To make matters even more impressive his production is a hip hop artist dream. The album features production from Timbaland, Kanye West, J.Cole, P. Diddy, Q Tip, and others. With a lineup like this producing your music, how can one lose? The beats are crazy but the lyrics is what keeps your ears tuned in.

“Intro”: This is how you set the tone of an album. On this intro Pusha comes out the gate hard, letting listeners know that they are in for a treat with this album. Off top Pusha is giving you straight lyrics at its finest. I played the intro 3 straight times back to back. There’s too many quotables on this song to even begin with. He’s spitting with a purpose as he’s alerting everyone that he is the truth and that he’s coming for that top spot. The production is eerie with the bass on 100.  This track definitely hits hard because it reminds you how lyrically superior Pusha T is. It’s a dark intro for a dark album. This intro greatly sets the tone for the album. 4.5/5

“I’m watching this three ring circus
Old lions don’t roar, so the clowns ain’t nervous
Even you fools serve purpose
Let ‘em run amuck until the king resurface

Then it’s off with your heads
Wear your little jewels, you could floss when you’re dead
They take samples of ‘em, I make examples of ‘em

It’s the thrill of the hunt, I keep my mantle covered”

“Untouchable”: Oh God, Timbaland was in rare form with the production. The beat and the lyrics are downright haunting. This is the lead off single, which features a mean sample from Biggie. This song is like an audio memoir, that makes you instantly rock your head. It’s almost too dangerous to listen to. This song is a gem for sure.  5/5

“My breakdown game bought me ‘8 Mile’ fame
Selling Eminem to him and ‘em
White to the Blacks
I’m a villain in
The Rolls Royce, playing peek-a-boo with the emblem

Let’s talk about it gentlemen
My barcode is Netflix “Narcos”
Part on the side of my ‘fro like I’m Pablo
No hablo, I sell blow

Lone wolf, no Tonto, head honcho

Yuugh, let’s take the scenic route
I could show you the strange fruit
It’s looking like Beirut

They open the wash bay, I climb it like K2
These kilos are drought killers, I flooded the Jesús,
I made use”

“M.F.T.R.”: This hook and beat is CRAZY! Vocals from The Dream makes it even hotter. The song speaks about rappers fronting in front of the camera knowing damn well that they are broke. Pusha even throws a bar praising Tyga for his exit from Cash Money. The production is solid and fits well within the album. Bar for bar this song stands out on the album. It is complete with a fun hook, witty word play and metaphors and great production. 4/5

“No retirement plans, no Derek Jeters
We all know I did it; Rodriguez

The illusion of money we don’t believe in
You ask me, Tyga looking like a genius

I’m Kim Jong of the crack song
Gil Scott-Heron to the black poem
Woo, the revolution will be televised
‘Cause we done see all and they telling lies

“Crutches, Crosses, Caskets” Diddy had this beat tucked away in a vault. It sounds like it was supposed to be for the late Biggie Smalls, but Pusha bodies the beat from start to finish. The song lyrically is evil, as Pusha goes to work, creating his own tempo . You can keep this song on repeat and make new meanings each time. It has that funky feel to it and gives you a frown face when Pusha raps. His witty and truthful bars defends his longevity in hip hop. The song is uncanny. 4.5/5

“All I see is death by the masses
The only asterisk is the change of address
My infinity pool as long as Magic’s

Yeah I let Zillow change my pillows
The home is so inviting, the Porsche is the armadillo
The silhouette

The pop, pop, pop; the chop, chop, chop
The throwaway TEC’s got Tourettes

“M.P.A.”: We have J. Cole and Kanye West on the production on this track. The beat is vintage Kanye and it has a My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy type of feeling. The keys, drums, guitar are all A1 but the lyrics are what is piercing. On this song, Push delves deep into what he proclaims as the 3 leading killers of many young brotha’s in the Hip Hop community. Lastly he spits a male’s perspective about a good girl gone bad on the last verse. The verses on this track, ascends bar by bar with overwhelming truth. Pusha does a great job delivering perspectives that is not talked about enough. He tackles, jealousy, silly arrogance, frivolous spending, senseless competition, money hungry women and under appreciated women. The Dream is clearly Pusha’s go to guy for vocals, as he sets the track off here as well. If that’s not enough, the track also features ASAP Rocky on the hook. This vivid picture of the trails and tribulations of money, p****, alcohol, arguably is one of the realest records of the year in Hip Hop. I felt this one in my soul, as I am sure you will be blown a way by at least one line as well. Subject matter is impressive with illusions and sorrow. #Remarkable. 5/5

“The three leading killers of you niggas
Is the shit that’s most appealing to you niggas
Even I fell victim to it, your pride don’t let you do it
The lies will get you through it
Money, pussy, alcohol, what a wonderful cocktail

Fronted my first brick over oxtails and ran with it”

“Got Em Covered”: This track is nostalgic Timbaland. Various sounds are everywhere, transitioning in and out throughout the song, so some may find this beat too distracting. If you listen carefully it has that Squeeze First sound, from Jay-Z’s “The Dynasty.” Pusha is having fun with this song and the lyrics reminds me of a previous track by him called, “Lunch Money.” Here he’s typical Pusha, referencing drugs and acknowledging his own brilliance. I didn’t care for the guest feature here, but Pusha did his thing on the verses as usual. 2.5/5

“The flow plays limbo courtesy of Timbo
Strip it down nigga, Jim Joe

I build it better nigga ten fold
La Ferrari from the Enzo
The stencil inspired by Kenzo
The roof is like Ghostface, can it be so simple
40 keys in a rental
My dogs bring it back, now you name a better kennel” 

“Keep Dealing”: This is the theme song for the villain and the hustla. This track is especially dope because it features a guest verse from the Broad Street Bully, Beanie Sigal. I mean this song is simply street tales from 2 of the hardest rappers from the early 2000 era. Beanie’s new voice fits the song well because of his low tone. Both artists describe their own personal difficulties with early stardom and money. Dope money, and rap money clearly brought both artists different scenarios but similar lessons. Always keep something in the ceiling. A gem on the album for sure because it provides a 4 minute snap back into when rap was gritty and street.  4/5

Pusha T: “Bitches ain’t respecting niggas not in full bloom
So the neck is full moon
I’m living a lie, she live for this life
And loving the Alaia pumps
Loving the rush, I’m living “The Wire” Uh
Drugs and this rap is really “Empire”
Rich nigga shit, how I lost my second million
Luckily was somethin’ in the ceiling, keep dealin ya”

Beanie Sigel: “Reporting live from the project benches
Hella caine, dope in cellophane, dirty syringes
Heron zombies street-walking on three-week binges”

“Retribution”: This was undoubtedly the lightest song on the album. The production has a techno type feeling, that I didn’t too much care for. Timbaland should probably have given this beat to Justin Timberlake. It features a new artist by the name of, Kehlani, but she sounds a lot like Rhianna. Pusha T returns to his drugs rap roots on this one, but he doesn’t say much really. Don’t get me wrong the song is not wack but it just doesn’t do anything for me. Any real concept seems to be absent, as there are really no significant quotes in this song. 2/5

“F.I.F.A.”: Q-Tip lost his mind with this beat. Those bongos though???!!! Pusha T is talking that G s***. This song is that boom bap, D-boy sh*t. Nothing but dopeness. The only flaw is that it is too short but other than that, Pusha flows on the beat effortlessly.  4.5/5

“That I mean business
I mean everything I say, no witness
No forgiveness, Souls of Mischief
It’s on through infinity, my arms are endless
Your arms, too short to box with God
Might send a bitch a Elie Saab”

“Sunshine” Powerful song period. Police brutality and fatality is happening excessively in our world and no one is doing anything about it. On this track Pusha displays consciousness and lyrical versatility. This lyrical depth is refreshing coming from Pusha T. He challenges the criminal justice system, and turns into a street poet and narrator. He is spitting nothing but jewels and facts on this song and his lyrics invoke powerful feeling and thought. Soulful vocals provided by Jill Scott, adds feeling and realism to the song.  You can hear the pain as she sings and you can feel the anger and exhaustion in Pusha T ’s words. This is a deep track, worth multiple listens. This song was made to be felt. I hope it resonates with everyone. 5/5

“America, you need a miracle
Beyond spiritual
I need a realer view
I hold a mirror to it
These ain’t new problems, they just old ways

“I don’t got no march in me, I can’t turn the other cheek
While they testing your patience, they just testing my reach

Funeral flowers, every 28 hours
Being laid over ours

Sworn to protect and serve, but who really got the power

We have seen a few lackluster efforts this year from some big heavyweights in hip hop such as Jadakiss and Rick Ross but Pusha T delivers on his new album. P. Diddy and Kanye West brought the animal out of Pusha T with their production. The album is an incredible body of work. Honestly this album is knocking on the door of “classic.” Amazingly this is just the prelude to the actual King Push album. Push went so hard on this, that the anticipation for his April 2016 is even higher. The production on this album is superior but the lyrics is what makes it worth a listen. A constant criticism for Pusha T is that he’s one dimensional. Sure he does talk about dope a lot, and that’s no different on this album BUT  he cleverly raps about other realisms so well, that you don’t even mind the drug references here. Finally an album from Pusha T, that you don’t have to be moving packs to rock to it. Unlike his previous efforts, this is the first album that Pusha expresses MORE than dope. His lyrical prowess allows him to paint pictures that everyone can vividly see. Honestly it’s too easy for this guy lyrically. Pusha proves to be a rap veteran, as his bars are grown up compared to current kiddie type lyrical industry. He shows to be a less populated lane, that not many can out rap him in. The way that he rides the beats, is fresh and polished. This album solidifies Pusha as a lyrical assassin in his own right, and it certifies his name worthy to be involved in significant rap debates. Though Pusha has never got the push similar to other “street artists” like Rick Ross and Jeezy, this has got to be the hardest street album this year. The album is a mysterious dark, story filled with complexities and revelations worth hearing. It features street intellect and it is a loud shout from the dark, demanding attention and appreciation. The only flaws is that the album is very short, as it only has 10 songs, lasting for 30 minutes.. Other than the lack of length, I have no other complaints. Push seems to be out to make a statement, and this album should put the hip hop community on notice for April. Pusha T packed this whole album with lyricism, which does nothing but makes one especially hungry for more. If Pusha T has any pressure to create a masterpiece in April, then he surely placed that on himself with this release. I am looking forward to the next album but in the meanwhile I will have King Push- Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude on repeat. 4.5/5

~Phillip Roberts

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8 thoughts on “King Push- Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude Album Review”
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