Review | Pusha T declares ‘Get ready for the placing of the crown’, teases with the brilliant prelude to King Push

Pusha Tbdd5ce7a-055e-49f3-a57f-e7a77ee87a2a

King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude


Following on from his 2013 critically acclaimed solo début My Name Is My Name, Virginia-born rapper Pusha T drops a teaser in King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude which serves as a prelude to his highly anticipated album King Push scheduled for release in April 2016. The newly appointed President of G.O.O.D Music gives his fans a little taste of what to expect but you can sense that he isn’t showing his full hand just yet.

So although Darkest Before Dawn is a really just a glorified mixtape this certainly doesn’t mean that Pusha doesn’t go all out and pull out all the stops garnishing it with monstrous collaborations with both production and features from the who’s who of the rap game. Opening track ‘Intro’ starts with a Reasonable Doubt-esque narration of Pusha’s consciousness asking the questions Who you want to be? Drug dealer? Demon? Rap nigga?/You tryna save the culture? Oh Lord/You gotta pick one, daddy”. This narration is Pusha pondering his legacy while still positing himself as the living example that you don’t really have to choose between being a drug dealer and an influential artist. This is followed by ‘Untouchable’, one of the many stand out tracks on the project.

Pusha drops two menacing verses over a 90’s era eerie, skeletal and bass-ey beat from fellow Virginia-born producer Timbaland, which is very reminiscent to the minimalistic production of songs like ‘Nostalgia‘ and ‘Numbers On The Board‘ off his début. But the beat doesn’t stop there and is given an extra drizzling of Mafioso flavouring with the hook lending a vocal sample from The Notorious BIG’s verse on Pudgees’ 1995 single ‘Think Big‘ in which Biggie bellows “Lyrically I’m, untouchable, uncrushable”. Lyrically, Pusha separates himself from what he calls ‘YouTube kings‘ and describes himself as “…more U2, I am like Bono with the Edge”. He also takes time to call out Donald Trump while throwing subliminal messages at Cash Money label owner Birdman, referencing recent contract disputes within his label saying, “I’m aiming for the moguls, why y’all niggas aiming at the locals?/And rap niggas broke like them, they’re mere hopeful/Still wishing on a star/The last one to find out that Baby [Birdman’s alias] own the cars”. Timbaland also lends two other production credits with ‘Retribution‘ featuring Kehlani and the hard-hitting Got Em Covered that features long time collaborator Ab-Liva.

[youtube id=”NPI_6MX74j4"]


The star-studded cast continues with co-production from J. Cole and Kanye West on the track – a subtle piano loop interrupted by a loud tambourine mimicking coins clanking together – ‘M.P.A‘ an acronym for Money, Pussy, Alcohol. Pusha’s verses are accompanied by Kanye and A$AP Rocky harmonising together on the hook with The-Dream singing the intro. In the song Pusha talks on the three  aforementioned vices that he feels plague black men; “The three leading killers of you niggas”. He describes how dope is like a two way street, how most people see the dealer as feeding someone’s addiction but that there is also an addiction for the dealer to the lifestyle, the money and the rush that you can’t get anywhere else. In the second verse, Pusha tells the story of the “around the way” women that do everything for you when you’re stepping out in the drug culture and drug life but are taken for granted until the major leaguer or the next guy comes along and they fear that they might have missed out. “Shout out my bitches fucking baseball niggas/That dress like Bamas with guaranteed contracts/Yeah, I see your vision, sick of prison visits/Now the Major League’s where you’re fishing”.

On the Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs-produced track ‘Crutches, Crosses, Caskets‘, Pusha talks on the ‘three Cs‘ as his interpretation of the current rap game. He feels that the game is the polar opposite from when he was growing up and rappers were seen as superheroes and instead now all he “sees is victims”. Along with dropping some comical lines like; “Swordfish, my reality is more fish/Banana clips for all you Curious Georges” Pusha also slips in some ‘sneak disses‘ to Drake referencing the altercation he had with Diddy last December in a nightclub over the “0-100” beat – “Old niggas slapping young niggas/Ha Imagine that, where you from nigga?”.

[y[youtube id=”crCFDQyfORM”]span>

Throughout Darkest Before Dawn, Pusha T perfectly blends his humour while still adequately depicting the harsh reality of life as a drug dealer. Another example being on the Boi-1da/Hudson Mohawke/Frank Dukes produced track ‘M.F.T.R’ featuring The-Dream, which stands for More Famous Than Rich. The song takes a look at society and how its a masquerade even through social media. How people that dont really have money but are still showing off on Instagram and how to be more famous than rich seems to be a thing that’s going on but he isn’t about that life. There is also a few more subtle shots at the Cash Money family, where despite there fame, the rappers like Lil’ Wayne & Drake aren’t seeing the proceeds from their album sales yet Birdman is getting rich off them.”The illusion of money we don’t believe in/You ask me, Tyga looking like a genius“. Again though he lightens the mood with light hearted lines like ”Yeah, while every song got a rapper dance” – more shots at Drake and the ubiquitous ‘Hotline Bling‘ and “No retirement plans, no Derek Jeters/We all know I did it; Rodriguez“ saying that he has no plans to retire unlike recently retired legendary NY Yankee Jeter while also alluding to his well known drug dealer background with the reference to another former Yankee, Alex Rodriguez, who admitted to steroid use.

As the record draws to a close, Pusha embarks into a more conscious subject moving away from the characteristic drug aficionado boisterous themes we are accustomed to. Outro track ‘Sunshine’ the features the legendary RnB artist Jill Scott, singing an interpolation of ‘Hey Sunshine’ by Sugarstarr. ‘Sunshine’ focuses on the ever relevant issues of how the black community are perceived in the US media as well as referencing the recent troubles in Baltimore. With the line “I see one time turn sunshine into Freddie Gray/Just another nigga dead, just another nigga dead”, Pusha makes a pun referencing the death of Freddie Gray who died in police custody, one of many deaths that kick-started the riots in Baltimore in April of this year. The line also makes reference to Ice Cube’s infamous line from NWA’s song ‘Straight Outta Compton’, saying that in the eye of the law that these transgressions against people of colour are simply treated as a statistic. Pusha also speaks of the harassment and subsequent death of Eric Garner which was recorded on a mobile phone yet there was no indictment in the case; ”Woo! Still a target, but the badge is the new noose/Yeah, we all see it, but cellphones ain’t enough proof/So we still lose”

Again, Push demonstrates his superb haymaker-like lyrical delivery over dark toned 90’s era production speaking through his well-publicised drug aficionado persona about real life modern issues. With Darkest Before Dawn only being the prelude to something bigger, fans can ‘Get ready for the placing of the crown‘ when King Push hits the streets in April 2016.