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‘Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude’ has something to prove

King Push, kingpin, overlord delivers the monsters under the floorboards

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AlbumDarkest Before Dawn: The Prelude

Artist: Pusha T

Label: G.O.O.D. Music

Release Date: Dec. 18

Grade: A-

God help us. Clocking in at a slim 33-minutes, Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude is legendary cocaine rapper Pusha T’s second solo album.

The president of G.O.O.D. Music, Pusha T built his legacy in the rap duo Clipse throughout the 2000s with his brother No Malice. Their standout album, Hell Hath No Fury, is a classic.

At 38 years old, Pusha T is an aging rapper with something to prove. And like Hov, he is one of the few dope rappers who have actually lived the life they rap about. He is comparable to Killer Mike as both are skilled lyricists with multiple projects and unsatisfied with their current level of commercial recognition.

With 2013’s My Name is My Name, Pusha T proved himself with songs like “King Push,” “Numbers on the Board” and “Nosetalgia.”

Pusha T differentiates himself from other ‘hard’ dope rappers by effortless stoicism, walking the walk and bringing frightening beats to back him up.

Describing himself as ruthless and powerful, his craft comes with a slow, low-pitched flow that is extremely consistent through all of his solo work.

In this album, a prelude to 2016’s forthcoming King Push, Pusha T is at the top of his game.

“Intro”is a banger, with lines like, “They take samples of ’em / I make examples of ’em / It’s the thrill of the hunt I keep my mantle covered.”

A grandiose opening carries the song; a soul voice wailing into the dark over bars sets the mood and makes an impact at first listen.

The next song “Untouchable” samples Notorious B.I.G. over a wobbly, paranoid keyboard beat. Pusha T’s confidence flows throughout the song, portraying his isolation and experience.

“M.F.T.R.”continues the great production, declaring himself, “Kim Jong of the crack song / Gil Scott-Heron to the black poem.” This was a standout single of the album before its release, approaching commercialism while retaining his style.

“Crutches, Crosses, Caskets”seems strained to keep the hook in line with the beat, but the fading, twisted horn in the background makes for another unique beat. Finding another hilarious way to rhyme about his drug money, Pusha declares, “I’m the L. Ron Hubbard of the cupboard.”

A more relaxed track, “M.P.A.” wouldn’t sound out of place on a Kendrick Lamar album, a self-reflective hymn on the emptiness of a superficial rap lifestyle. Pusha T reminds us of his intellect. Then, it transitions into the insane “Got ’em Covered.”

Pusha T has a history of rapping over beats that are off-the-wall. Every year he has one song that breaks expectations.

Last year it was “Lunch Money”;in 2013 it was “Numbers on the Board.” Pusha T’s versatility comes out in spades over beats like this. His flow carries over the track effortlessly.

The final track “Sunshine” is packed with conscious lyrics – and a Don Lemon diss is always a plus.

This is a strong prelude to King Push, dropping this April. Pusha T, alongside Hov, sees himself as one of the true dope boys.

His ambition hits the mark, so motivation is not needed. If King Push eclipses this album it will be sensational.

email: arts@ubspectrum.com


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