Or should I say a king’s proclamation, the 2nd studio album from Pusha T, King Push- Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude debuted Dec. 18 with a notable bang.
Released as a prelude to Pusha’s upcoming King Push, the album paints a dynamic picture shooting wide range with topics from Freddie Gray, to the trappings of fame and of course his rich past that yielded the namesake Pusha.
Hard-hitting and heavy with exceptional production, classic punchlines and features from an enviable list of hip-hop greats, the new president of G.O.O.D Music pulls no punches in this declaration of dominance.
King Push is here and — regardless of the place (in the booth or in these streets) — he’s not to be played with.
The Intro finds Pusha at a crossroads: “Espera, ven aquí, who you wanna be? Drug Dealer? Demon? Rap nigga? You tryna save the culture? Ay Dios mío. You gotta pick one, daddy,” his conscious (aka Lee Sanchez) wagers. What’s it going to be: coke king raps or inspiring hood-guy-made-good rhymes?
The answer comes in the following tracks where Pusha blends the 2 realities in a seamless assault waged on anyone who thought to ever second guess his genius. Untouchable (released Nov. 12) sets the tone perfectly with a hypnotic baseline and sample from the iconic Notorious B.I.G; the song is a battle cry to any would be opponent with King Push taking not so subtle shots at Donald Trump, Birdman and “you kings of YouTube.”
On the song M.F.T.R feat. The Dream, Push again goes in on the fabricated wealth and power certain hip hop heavyweights claim, calling them out in lyrics such as “The illusion of money we don’t believe in / You ask me, Tyga looking like a genius.” He holds no bar back delivering shots with ease and confidence that leans toward a well deserved cockiness; and make no mistake, while the song features The Dream’s signature falsetto there’s nothing R & B about the pairing.
On the Timbaland produced Got Em Covered (feat Ab-Liva) and Keep Dealing (feat Beanie Sigel) Pusha further details his trafficking past by masterfully painting vivid pictures of the cocaine empire that has shaped the rapper and the man.
Retribution —featuring one of the hottest female artist of 2015, Kehlani — is possibly the most radio friendly track, as Kehlani’s smooth voice acts as the spark to ignite Pusha’s explosive lyrics. Combined with production from Timbaland, the song successfully rounds out the albums “greatest to do it” mantra without being obnoxious and Kehlani yields enough soul to smooth everything out.
Pusha closes with eye opening social commentary teaming up with the legendary Jill Scott for Sunshine. “Just another n*gga dead, just another n*gga dead, send another to the feds, send another to the feds,” mincing no words when it comes to police brutality, the prison industrial complex and the current climate of race relations in our country. Jill croons “It’s more and more and more than Baltimore/ From shore to shore, oh lord/ Patience torn, patience gone, oh lord” and Pusha T destroys the earlier notion that he can’t be both gritty and conscious; he brings his explicitly raw style to a topic that is often swept under the rug and demands that attention be paid. It’s brilliant.
Darkest Before Dawn is a flawless back drop for the upcoming King Push; it’s gritty and dark and solidifies Pusha T’s position as a lyrical monster while creating a ferocious appetite for more. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Pusha sheds light on the new sound:
“I sat with Timbaland, I sat with Kanye, I sat with Sean Combs, Boi-1da, Nashiem Myrick, Mario Winans, Baauer, Mano and got from each of them the darkest part of their souls on these beats, and it marries everything I’m doing right now lyrically.”
The result is epic. If this is just the warm up I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the victory lap.