King Push - Darkest Before Dawn [Parental Advisory]
Recording information: Clockwork Studios, Los Angeles, CA; Master Sound Recording Studios, Virginia Beach, VA; No Name Studio; Redzone Studio; Thomas Crown Studio.
Photographer: Fabien Montique.
A teaser for an upcoming album, Pusha T's 2015 effort is uneven, odd, and hard to navigate, but like his cohort Kanye West, this rapper remains an unstoppable artist, even when presented in shards and strange experiments. King Push - Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude comes with plenty of examples of both, but the MC pushes out honest and riveting lyrics like "They call him a 'crack dealer'/I am like Warhol/Gonna paint a picture of a bullet for all y'all" ("Keep Dealing") at an amazing rate, so navigating even his more "difficult" releases yields plenty of gold. He's also a Warhol who is more proud of his cocaine-dealing days than his current status of revered rapper plus CEO of Kanye West's GOOD Music label, an attitude fleshed out on "M.F.T.R.," which stands for "More Famous Than Rich." A Notorious B.I.G. sample and an infectious Timbaland beat make "Untouchable" an approachable single, then Timbaland returns for a wonderfully weird number dubbed "Retribution." The biggest surprise from the production department has to be "Harlem Shake" man Baauer constructing a Michael Bay-worthy, cinematic soundtrack for the closing "Sunshine" with Jill Scott. The album just doesn't flow as well as his monolithic 2013 effort My Name Is My Name, but as a mere "prelude" to the next LP, it's miles above "throwaway" and comes with the quality control that would put it in the top tiers of both the mixtape and street release formats. ~ David Jeffries
Rolling Stone - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "Though hip-hop gets more melodic and vocally expressive every year, Pusha keeps his cadences steely and his bars hitting like haymakers, maintaining that ice-cold Nineties feel even when he's taking on modern troubles."
Spin - "[The] raspy lyrical commitment frees up his backing music to be the component that matures."
Billboard - "On the production side, Push calls on a few friends for assistance including Puff Daddy, J. Cole, Kanye West, Timbaland, Q-Tip, Hudson Mohawke, Metro Boomin' and Baauer, each contributing brooding soundscapes to enhance DBD's evil mood."
NME (Magazine) - "[I]t's as cohesive, bracing and head-swimmingly thrilling as any hip-hop release of 2015."
Paste (magazine) - "Pusha's ability to curate such a variety of sounds for such a singular vision is what keeps the album steady, off-kilter but on par."
Clash (Magazine) - "A remarkable return to form by one of rap's finest wordsmiths, it's Pusha's most focused and cohesive solo effort to date, and one of hip-hop's strongest long-players of 2015."