This Pusha T article was written by Peter Shand, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Ben Kendall.
Amidst a quiet year for G.O.O.D Music’s rap collective, tallying only one commercial release thus far with Big Sean’s ‘Dark Sky Paradise,’ rapper Pusha T delivers his second studio album ‘Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude’, the follow up to his highly critical acclaimed 2013 release ‘My Name is My Name’. A project where Pusha reaffirmed his penchant for drug dealing story tales, something that he, along with his brother in the rap duo Clipse, has displayed throughout his career. Recently being appointed El Presidente of Kanye’s Imprint G.O.O.D Music, Pusha has made it his mission to make sure hard hitting street driven lyrics and unorthodox production remain at the vanguard of his records; this is no more omnipresent than on this album.
“The only great I ain’t made better was J. Dilla”, as the albums opening track ‘Intro’, Pusha makes sure to remind everyone of his influence within the rap landscape. Sauntering over a vengeful Timbaland beat, packed with deadly wordplay and further ridicule at the expense of Lil Wayne and Cash Money, “Still wishin on star, the last one to find out that baby own the cars”. ‘Untouchable’ serves as one of the albums many crown jewels.
‘More Famous Than Rich (M.F.T.R.)’ featuring The-Dream speaks the tales of fugazi rap lifestyles, all while trying to fathom why people would rather be more famous than rich, “Niggas talking it, but ain’t living it two years later admitting it, all them niggas is renting shit”. ‘Crutches, Crosses, Casket’ over haunting production crafted by Puff Daddy, Pusha makes a mockery of rappers that have been misled and taken advantage of identifying them as victims a situation he could never find himself in, “rappers is victimized at an all-time high but not I, you pop niggas thought I let it fly”.
Three of man’s deadliest vices are all laid bare on ‘M.P.A (Money, Pussy, Alcohol),’ and with his album ‘SWISH’ still in the wind, Kanye finds himself on production and hook duty, with harlem native A$AP Rocky also featuring, adlibbing like puff in the 90s. Tracks such as ‘Got Em Covered’ and ‘Keep Dealing’ all remain locked into the album’s colour palette of darkness, with Pusha lyrically staying on course. Guest spots from Beanie Sigel and Ab-Liva are all precise and sharp. Bringing a new rap voice, caused by a shooting which resulted in half of his lung being removed, Beanie Sigel attempts to outshine the albums commander in chief with a sparkling verse.
‘Retribution’ serves as the one album’s not so bright spots, with a forgettable hook and the repeated use of outdated synths. Stripped down and punchy ‘F.I.F.A’ alongside Q-Tip production liberates the acronym most associated with football, as Pusha scrolls through his memory decks and recants how his transition from the drug game to the rap game materialised.
The album comes to a close with a soulful Jill Scott chorus assisted track titled ‘Sunshine’, the song deters from the albums drug filled themes and takes aim at the media’s misconceptions and killings of African-Americans by law enforcement, “so it goes, every truth don’t get told all these cops get cleared, and lives are stole”. As the artwork depicts Pusha is always about a bird “They ask why I’m still talking dope, why not?”, he does nothing to stray away from the drug dealing content, and with the albums sequel ‘King Push’ already slated for April release, expect nothing less of the same.
‘King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude’ is out now via GOOD Music and Def Jam Recordings.