Album Review | Pusha T – “Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude”

Darkest Before Dawn (Artwork)

In the last few months, there have been a pair of stellar projects to drop that we were unable to do proper reviews for. It wouldn’t be right unless we remedy that, so check out one of the reviews below. As always, feel free to share the post. New reviews are on the way, so be on the lookout.

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[Written By// @K1ngEljay]

When you mention the word “consistency”, there’s not too many people that can rightfully attribute that phrase to their music. Granted, you have your JAY-Z’s or your Kanye West’s (or, Pablo’s, according to his latest album title change), or even your T.I.’s and your Scarfaces, but outside of the easily recognizable names that helped share Hip-Hop into what it is today, there’s not many (outside of K.R.I.T. and Kendrick Lamar) that qualify. Going even further, there’s not many that can even hold a candle to that type of potency with quote-unquote “drug raps”, but that’’s why Pusha T is such a fascinating anomaly in the system.

Pusha began, for most of us, as half of the Clipse duo with his brother, Malice. Politics halted their initial arrival, but with the Neptunes backing them, Lord Willin’ became a cult classic due to the cleverness laced within the bars. Before them, there weren’t too many true lyricists that took to those types of raps effectively. “Grindin’” and “Virginia” kicked the doors off the hinges, and Pusha T was the flair that lured the casual listeners in with his borderline comical bars that combined his knowledge with his personality:

“In Virginia, we smirked at the Simpson trial. Yeah, I guess the chase was wild, but what’s the fuss about?”

It was refreshing to see the duo (and their cohorts, The Re-Up Gang) keep those lyrical gymnastics going in future projects (including the criminally slept on mixtape series, We Got It 4 Cheap). However, a plot twist arose as Malice discovered the Lord and left those ways in the past. His brother, however…

…Well, his brother has not. I hesitate to say that his music is better for it because of what it would imply, but a guilty pleasure of mine is hearing Pusha T approach a track and make it his own. Teaming up mainly this time with Timbaland, Pusha T’s (aka King Push’s) latest project to drop is something like a Prelude to what he has planned. Darkest Before Dawn is nothing but aggressive raps and surprising production that hits as hard as intended, but still laces that lyricism we became familiar with all of those years ago – which, in itself, is incredible.

Introductions are important, and the intro here is menacing in several areas. The production attacks the speakers, and Pusha’s flows rips effortlessly into it as he laces the beat with dope lyrics (pun intended). The aggression continues, accompanied by Biggie samples (“Untouchable”) and The-Dream vocals (“M.F.T.R”, which stands for “More Famous Than Rich”), before mellowing into a G.O.O.D Friday-sounding cut featuring The-Dream, Kanye West, and A$AP Rocky. The sequencing in past projects have always been a type of flaw for Pusha’s solo drops, but it’s done rather well here, with the exception of the last few tracks.

The oddly placed Kehlani feature (“Retribution”) has a completely different vibe than the rest of the album, and it sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s definitely an experimental track, because Pusha T doesn’t quite sound comfortable on it (maybe it was a Timbaland idea?), and also lets out a couple of the weakest bars I’ve heard from him in, maybe, ever (“It’s kinda chilly here being the coldest” leads that set). “F.I.F.A” sets out to correct that tone, but outside of the latter verses, it doesn’t quite impress either. Even the last placed track with Jill Scott (“Sunshine”) doesn’t quite fit the vibe established with the rest of the project. It’s not a bad track by any means, but the minor issues from his My Name Is My Name album rears its head for a moment at the end, yet again; the sequencing of tracks (or, their placement to begin with) can jarr you out of what was established.

Even with those same basic issues, Pusha T’s proven to be one of the great rappers of this age. I’m curious to see what he does next as the president of G.O.O.D Music (read: limitless resources); Scarface dropped arguably one of his best albums as the head of Def Jam South (The Fix, anyone?), so anything can happen. Let’s just hope Pusha keeps us as covered as his dope boys with the quality.

Click the picture to support the project, via iTunes.

Click the picture to support the project, via iTunes.

The Favorites

  • “Intro”
  • “Keep Dealing” (feat. Beanie Siegel)
  • “Crutches, Crosses, Caskets”
  • “Got It Covered” (feat. Ab-Liva)

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