The Prelude has once again positioned Pusha as an emcee with the ability to put forth a legendary piece of work. Here now, the clock ticks until King Push.
Darkest Before Dawn is a declaration of now, using the rap world's skewed priorities and current disordered reality as his muse, dissecting its flaws through neurotic observations and sociological exploration - and of course the most inexhaustible adlib in the game.
We do know that Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude is a fabulous album, even though it’s merely a sample to whet our appetite for the real product, King Push, next spring.
Darkest Before Dawn is as real as it gets — even if you've never sold drugs in your life.
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.
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.
Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude sees Pusha T continue in the verbose, matter-of-fact style that he’s honed since his days as one half of Clipse, but this time – amid the tales of slinging and spending – he’s built his own personal fifth column.
Darkest Before Dawn's only shortcoming is its prelude status; most of its 10 songs last just two or three minutes. It's too good to be a mixtape and too short to be an album, raising the stakes even higher for the album proper.
If My Name is My Name was a branding, an active marketing campaign, Darkest Before Dawn is the fully realized product, Pusha T not as he was or as he could be, but as he is. He’s not always as sharp as he’s been in the past, but he makes up for his faults with his tenacity.