Pusha T‘s second studio project, King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude comes two years after his debut, My Name Is My Name. That project was met with critical acclaim for its multidimensional styles and distinctive identity. On this album, that acclaim is even more front and center. With cascading synth sounds that knock through the speakers, he attempts to prove he’s “Untouchable,” and succeeds in brandishing bars, that embody excellence and a virtuosity often absent from mainstream and underground Hip-Hop.
Where most rappers these days tend to spit on fortune, fame, and hubris, Pusha opts to move away from that particularly on “Retribution” and “M.F.T.R.,” where he imparts wisdom on the illusions of entertainment and how the so-called ‘better life’ is not all it’s cracked up to be. From the Pusha T perspective, he’s Hip-Hop’s savior come back like a street phoenix rising from the ashes to show the formulaic status quo how it’s done. He’s humble while doing this though, even with all of the other emcees featured across King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude including a sample from Notorious B.I.G. that looms on the opening cut, “Untouchable.” He’s on a mission to prove he can run with the best of them with rhymes that display relentless intensity and thoughtful expression. Perhaps, this is most noticeable on “Crutches, Crosses, Caskets,” “Sunshine,” and “Keep Dealing,” which provide additional reasons why he commands attention and has remained viable even with the disbanding of Clipse.
Pusha seems to have spared no expense in amassing a treasure trove of producers, who know how to craft foreboding and shameless rhythms. Interestingly, Pharrell’s vibe, which was heavily incorporated into much of the Clipse material and his debut, is absent from the project. There are points where Pusha seems to pine for the signature marching bass lines, yet pushes through on this prelude without it, laying the anticipatory groundwork for the actual King Push recording that is to come.