Pusha T has been a force to be reckoned with in hip-hop for over a decade now, ever since his role as one half of the Neptunes produced group Clipse. Since their last album, the essential “Hell Hath No Fury” from 2006, Pusha has been mostly quiet. In 2010, he signed onto Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label, but only in the past couple of year has he released solo material. 2013’s “My Name is My Name,” was a promising commercial debut that still made some bad decisions. Pusha attempted to cast himself as a trendy rapper, with features from Chris Brown, 2 Chainz, and Big Sean, and that just doesn’t work for the hardcore coke rapper that is King Push. However, this record was held up by two of my favorite songs ever, “Numbers on the Board,” and the Kendrick Lamar featuring “Nosetalgia.” These tracks were just great, wordplay heavy and excellently delivered bar fests over really off-kilter beats, and that is what I was hoping for on this new record. (That is technically a mini album leading up to full “King Push.”) However, while this album does steer far away from the commercial attempts on “My Name is My Name,” what’s in its place is very underwhelming.

 

Going into this thing, I was expecting an album full of what last year’s Ye produced single, “Lunch Money,” gave me: great bars from Pusha over cool-ass beats. That happens on three songs here, those being the Timbaland produced “Untouchable,” and “Got Em Covered,” and the Q-Tip produced “F.I.F.A,” but the rest is very, very boring and unengaging unfortunately. Pusha is a great rapper, but he is someone who needs a great beat to make a great song. Luckily, he’s been able to rap over beats from mostly Pharell and Kanye West, so this has never a problem, but when he is given a bland beat, the song itself becomes boring very quickly. This happens on nearly every song here.

 

The most underwhelming song here though is “M.P.A.” It says in the tracklisting featuring Kanye West and A$AP Rocky, with production credits from Ye and J Cole, but what do we get? A bland and repetitive beat, and Kanye and Rocky delegated to hook duty. Rule of thumb, don’t say “featuring *insert noteworthy name here* and then have them do essentially nothing for the song. It’s not even a particularly good hook either, it’s just kind of there.

 

“Darkest Before Dawn…” is very, very disappointing. The beats are uninteresting for the most part, and Pusha T does his normal thing, which is still at a high-level, but what are good bars without a good beat? As songs, these things just don’t function like an songs with the Pusha T tag attached to it. Here’s to hoping that these are throwaways from the real album.

 

2.5 stars

Standout Tracks: “Untouchable” “Got Em Covered” “F.I.F.A.”

 

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