*One of the hottest East Coast rappers out there, Dave East, just dropped new music: “How Did I Get Here: A Dave East Tale” (HDIGH). It includes nine powerful tracks based on the truth of his life journey. He chops it up with iHeart Radio on-air personality and EURweb Spotlight host Jazmyn ‘Jaz’ Summers.
Method Man, who East plays in Hulu’s “Wu Tang Saga,” Musiq Soulchild, Anthony Hamilton, Benny the Butcher, Kaalan FRFR and Trae Tha Truth are among the voices you’ll hear. The drop party attracted NY rapper Maino and influencer/rapper Millyz who were in the building, among others.
Dave tells Jaz he personally chose the cover photo of him and his mom.
“She was so happy. I was so innocent at that time and that stage. I didn’t know life. I just knew my mother and then I look at myself now and the sh*t I seen and that’s the meaning of ‘How Did I Get Here.’ The world steals our innocence quick.”
East’s “HDIGH” is a mix of hard-hitting and poignant lyrics. His favorites?
“‘Gregory Hines’ with the outro from my birth little brother and ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ with my artist Steven Young. Gregory Hines, I’m speaking on like personal sh*t my upbringing in the crib, my dad, my mom, my building, n*ggas I knew from the hood.”
In “Unbelievable,” the track with Method Man, he shouts out Black Panther leaders Huey P. Newton and Fred Hampton rapping, “Problems seem to follow us, it’s proven that the trenches get more sentences than scholarships. It’s different sets and politics (Rollin’) I’m Fred Hampton, I’m Huey Newton.”
“I’m an old soul,” he tells Jaz. “My pops was into the whole panther movement. A lot of his stories I’ve watched over the years, documentaries over the years. I’ve always been fascinated by that era. How rebellious they were and how they came together. The way they were able to have the Black Panther Party in so many different cities. It was nationwide. I always want to big them brothers up that put they life on the line”
His sexy slow jam “Deeper Than Love” is joined by romantic crooner Musiq Soulchild.
“It’s just a vibe just from my experiences in life,” the rapper/actor shares with EURweb Spotlight. “Dealing with women, seeing my homies deal with women, seeing my father deal with moms. Whatever people think love is. I feel like we all got our own version of what love is and how much love we give to a person.”
It’s rare when a hip-hop artist tackles the issue of taxes but his bop “After Taxes” does. In the United States, the disproportionate amount of taxes are paid by working-class and poor people. Jeff Bezos, for example, paid zero taxes on a 12 billion dollar profit a few years ago. In the last line East quotes rapper Boosie exhorting the government to “give it to the poor.”
“I feel like taxes is a m*thaf*cka. I feel like everybody get taxed. I feel like that’s robbery. If you work at McDonalds you ain’t really making nuthin’ but they still gonna take sumpthin. I look at my sh*t from big deals and big endorsements that I be doing and I can see it and I’m like they get all that? It’s like what are they doin’ with it?! I still see homeless people everywhere. Nothing ever changes. I’ll be 34 in June. I done seen life for a long time and ain’t sh*t change and everybody pay taxes. I speak about it on the record. There’s a bunch of rich famous people who had tax evasion, went to prison or were convicted for evasion. But where’s it going? I don’t want no problems. I’m still paying my sh*t . But I feel like that was sumpthin’ nobody really spoke on and I know that everybody go thru it.”
East, who is reppin’ Harlem and the famous Queensbridge of Queens in New York, is signed by Def Jam but was first discovered by Nas who had him on his Mass Appeal label.
He had been a talented hooper. His close friendship with basketball legend Kevin Durant is well known. He met Durant at the Amateur Athletic Union and it’s often joked that the 6’7 baller East is the NBA’s favorite rapper.
“I didn’t choose rap over hooping,” he admits. “I always had a dual love for music and sports but I hit a dead end with basketball. I got locked up so I hit a brick wall. I was locked up in 2010 for half of that year. I was in Baltimore. After that I couldn’t go to no more schools. My ballin’ was done so I just got into my next love. I didn’t know nobody. I didn’t have no cousins that worked on the labels.”
East admits there were moments he thought of giving up.
“I had them times feeling like this sh*t not going to work,” he revealed to “HipHopDX.” “But I think by the time I really felt like that, the homies I had around me — I had put in so much pain with the rap and had locked in so much — they was like, ‘Man, you bugging out if you stop right now. Like, ain’t you trippin?’ I remember having them conversations with a few of my homies, like, ‘Ain’t no way in the world you can stop right now, bro. You too far. We locked in already. You can’t stop.’”
Now he is embraced by millions of fans and a legion of older rappers from Snoop Dogg, and Styles P. to Jim Jones. “I’m an old soul. Honestly, I feel like I’m in the wrong era,” he laughs. The rapper has also been featured on many singles of artists like Chris Brown, Jeezy, and Lil Wayne.
East recently appeared on the legendary Mary J Blige‘s album and in her video playing a poker dealer.
“Working with her was incredible. It was dope. I had her on my project Karma 3. We did a record. We did a video but that was my shit. To be on her album and her video, which was legendary. My mother loves Mary, all my aunties, my sister everyone from the younger cousins to the older people in my family, they’re all a big fan of hers so for me to be able to be on her album was incredible.”
One of his main inspirations and friends was the late rapper and activist Nipsey Hussle gunned down in 2019. Dave thanked him at his listening party and says he always keeps him close to his heart.
“Love you Nip forever,” East poclaims.
Also in his heart are his two daughters which he says keeps him grounded: “At all points, I’ve gotta be on point for my daughters and be in a positive, good space for them. I feel like I’m their one and only protector.”
Check out the full convo in the video at the top. And please don’t forget to subscribe to Jaz’s YouTube channel.
Interview/article by Jazmyn Summers. Follow her @jaztalk1 on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Video editing by www.patrickhousefilms.com