Did you ever make mix tapes as a kid growing up? I know I was fortunate enough to experience those little cassette joys before the CD became popular and then the mp3, and now we have streaming services instead.
Technically the mix-tape as it was originally created no longer exists.
That’s because music is no longer recorded or transferred via chrome and metal tape. But the spirit lives on and there are a ton of artists still releasing mix tapes today
If we look at hip hop culture in particular the mix tape is prevalent. And sure enough, that’s what I am going to be reviewing today.
Pusha T – King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude
released December 18, 2015
Terrence Thornton, better known by the stage name Pusha T, is an American hip hop artist.
His solo career began in 2011, but don’t assume that at 38 years old he is unlearned in the music scene. Before he was Pusha T, he was one half of the hip hop duo Clipse – for the better part of two decades with his brother Gene “No Malice” Thornton.
Pusha T kickstarted his solo plans with a mix tape titled Fear of God. Following that release a couple of years later came his debut album My Name Is My Name.
King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude is Pusha T’s next supposed “mixtape” effort, and I have to tell you, it’s really banging hip hop. His haters claim he hasn’t really split off from his brother proper yet, and that he is very much past his prime, but I am going to have to strongly disagree with both of those statements.
First off, he doesn’t mess around at all. He moves back and forth between his past in the drug dealing world and his experience as a veteran of hip hop who can help to salvage the culture and usher us into a new era of greatness. But maybe he doesn’t want to. And he acknowledges racism in a very honest way, closing out the album efficiently.
The flow and the instrumental of the record is kinda reminiscent of Kanye West, which makes a lot of sense given that Pusha T is now the president of G.O.O.D. Music, which is Kanye West’s baby.
Adding on to the production celebrity checklist, Pusha T gets some help from Timbaland, P. Diddy, Hudson Mohawke, Baauer, J. Cole, Q-Tip, Metro Boomin’, and of course, Kanye West.
The production fits nicely with his practiced and well constructed writing. You know when you listen to songs like Crutches, Crosses, Caskets, MPA, and Sunshine that you are being set up for amazing musical references, but he is a little slow with his hooks. Now thatmight be a result of age but it could be a conscious decision too.
And quite frankly, I don’t think this approach wrecks any of the tracks; but if you want lyrical agility, this album doesn’t ever really ramp up into third gear.
But that’s the allure of Pusha T.
He is a former drugdealer who misses his trade. He does what he wants, and he isn’t afraid of the results. And that makes his rapper persona scary. You see, some rappers got into the drug trade to making a living, others needed money to get out, some were in it for the excitement, or of loyalty to friends.
He simply does not care about any of that.
This would make him seem unstable, but he is running a record company, so how unstable could he possibly be?
You should check out these tracks if you want to see more of his skills up close – Untouchable, MFTR, Crutches, Crosses, Caskets, MPA,
Apparently the hip hop scene even has a single term of mixtape to identify the format. Artists like Pusha T produce these records to give their fans original music, freestyles, and remixes to get the content out into the public, and sometimes they do it for free too.
That DIY youth culture of self is still really strong, and Pusha T is emblematic of his generation. Working against the standard and promoting change. His search for individual freedom and dignity, while embracing his background make him a perfect case study of a Generation Xer, those who invented the mix tape.
But what do you think, dear readers? Listen and tell me!