For a certain kind of hip-hop fan, the first time they heard Pusha T spit was either his venomous yuugh! ad-lib on G.O.O.D. Music's 2012 posse cut "Mercy," or his unlikely guest-spot on Kanye West's toast to the douchebags (and 2010's best song), "Runaway." "It's weird, I know," Pusha T thinks on it now, more than two decades after founding one of rap folklore's favorite duos, Clipse, with older brother No Malice (they formally disbanded last year). Even if you can't pinpoint the Virgina Beach native in a G.O.O.D. family portrait, you know Push: Clipse's Neptunes-produced "Grindin'" has been sampled everywhere, and his affinity for that pure white is legendary.
In 2013, he boosted his profile with the release of My Name Is My Name, a searing debut solo album that was met with critical acclaim. He's spent the last two years reuniting with Pharrell and Chad Hugo, dropping genre-warped bangers with Skrillex and Hudson Mohawke, and, well, a bit more. When we meet at New York's Dream Hotel a few days before Thanksgiving, he's recently been named president of West's G.O.O.D. Music. Still, Pusha's own music remains his priority: He's announced the release of a surprise solo project Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude, out December 18, meant to tide fans over until his King Push arrives next spring. But even that appetizer to the album proper feels like an event; its credits are a checklist of hip-hop tastemakers and icons (Kanye, J. Cole, Pharrell, Beanie Sigel, Diddy, The-Dream, A$AP Rocky, Jill Scott, and many more).