I’ve been an avid fan of Pusha T since the Clipse days, and one of his biggest achievements is his transition as an artist. In the earlier years, Pusha T’s output centered around trademark Neptunes riffs and jazzy East Coast vibes, nowadays, Pusha T is responsible for more hard-hitting, punchier tracks built around his lyricism and delivery. Migrating from Star Trak to GOOD Music, has been a fluid and fairly slept-on feat, and I’m still conflicted on which side of Pusha I prefer. While we’re all still patiently waiting for the release of his madly-anticipated King Push, Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude is something to tide us over until then.
Just like he did on My Name Is My Name with King Push, Pusha T explodes onto Darkest Before Dawn with big Metro Boomin drums, and venomous delivery. Timbaland provides a Biggie-sampling follow up, continuing a similar ethos to his previous LP. Excusing a few moments, like when The Dream stops by the take care of the R&B vibes, this is an all-out rap onslaught. There’s no time for niceties, and no time for frills, this Pusha holding nothing back: ‘In ya thousand dollar joggers as you rhyme about ya dollars // Is there shame when a platinum rapper’s mother lives in squalor?’
To further solidify whose album this exactly is is no more epitomised by M.P.A. From the outside a feature from both Kanye West and ASAP Rocky set rap-heads salivating, but turns out they’re only utilised in the hook through a couple of lines. However, the absence of two guest spots is easily forgotten with sombre production and class-oozing lyrics such as ‘Every car got a fleet, every broad get a jeep // Every sparkle in the club that wasn’t ours, we compete // Poor minds, poor decision makers // No reward, then what’s the risk you taking?’
Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude is an impressive album, and is going to find its way into my Albums of 2015 list. Classic Clipse-stemming delivery, unforgiving and often minimalist production, as well as some notable album structure all point to another solid release from the GOOD Music honcho. There’s a couple of moments when I felt my interest start slipping away, such as with the odd Got Em Covered, but with some of Pusha T’s strongest material (Keep Dealing, F.I.F.A.) found on Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude, this album is more than enough to keep me occupied until King Push.
Verdict – WWWV