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.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries