Harlem is the territory of Dave East — enduring struggle and pinpointing inspiration/motivation, all at once. “Only motivation I ever needed was section 8,” East rapped on Nipsey Hussle’s “Clarity.” Applying his words as a paintbrush and the studio utilized as his canvas, East’s success thrives off of real life and vivid memory. From Change of Plans to his recent body of work Kairi Chanel, it’s been a steady climb of unforced movement. Manager Wayno and East’s tactics haven’t been used with force; if the situation isn’t right, patience becomes key. There’s a nostalgic feeling within this latest release – that many “hip-hop heads” wanted badly — specifically from a New York artist. Although it’s not his debut album, a lot of inaugural listeners tuned in for this project.
KAIRI CHANEL IS NOT MY ALBUM. ITS NUMBER 1 ON iTUNES RIGHT NOW. MY DEBUT ALBUM WILL BE EXECUTIVE PRODUCED BY @Nas
— Dave East (@DaveEast) October 3, 2016
In March of this year, East and long-time girlfriend welcomed their daughter Kairi Chanel, into the world. Kairi became the inspiration behind the title of the project. East told Billboard, “I feel it’s my best work to date. I named it after my daughter, because she’s the greatest and most defining moment of my life.” He continued on with, “everything I’ve done up until now has led me to her, so I translated that into music.”
Life most certainly isn’t the same for the Def Jam-signee. What was once rain-filled days, has turned into sunshine. We’re passed the hype of the Nas cosign. We know East can spit, and we’re just interested about what his next line will be in a song — circling into his next move. Although Nas isn’t featured on the album, the intro track “It Was Written” was inspiration enough for East. His favorite album from Nas is “It Was Written,” writing his destiny that’s inherited from what he’s seen and learned. “Everybody keep telling me make a club record/ ‘you ain’t trapping no more, stop making drug records’/ you got a daughter bout to come, stop making thug records.” It’s the opening lines that was used during his XXL Freshman freestyle. From spending majority of his time working on his jump shot, to working on his next hook, East didn’t always see the path of music coming; basketball was his way out. After a six-month stint in jail, East returned to make music and let the hoop dreams go. “It took a lot to get this Rollie,” East began on the track “It Was Written.” Most certainly it did take a lot for him to get to this point.
On the album, we’re offered a little bit of everything. East is able to have a certain raw attitude to his sound, yet keep it modern for more listeners to be lured to. On “Type of Time” produced by Cardo, East displays this to the upmost of his ability. Utilizing a flow that has become revived, he shows no issue with mixing in truth with a likable cadence.
East demands attention and his tone is something you Can’t Ignore; no ignoring the hunger in his voice on the 2 Chainz-assisted track. Chainz asked East to “send him something he can really rap on, leading to the strong verses the two artist delivered – from Harlem to Atlanta. “Again” provides a similar attention-grabbing system, located from East’s beast-like delivery. But let’s keep in mind; East’s primary objective is now to get this sound out beyond Harlem, Ravenswood housing, and New York in general.
Focused in on getting his sound heard more, East inked a deal with Def Jam. “It’s at a time now where I really need a machine,” East told The Breakfast Club. “I’m not gonna say need, but it really helps what I’m trying to do, especially being from New York and not trying to stay in New York. As I told ya’ll before, I’m not trying to be underground or classified as a certain type of dude.” Some who listened to East’s music prior to signing the deal, say he has changed and they liked his music before. East responded saying “N***as Sign A New Deal And N***as Couldn’t Wait To Say “I Liked His Mixtapes And Music Before The Deal” Fucc Outta Here Ain’t S**t Changed!!!” Barely arguable, East does just that, maintaining the essence and roots that got him to this point, but taking it a step further with lyrics and production.
The first single released from the album was “Keisha,” the tell-all story of a Jamaica, Queens-native who ended up sleeping with East, before robbing him of jewelry, money, and even his phone. Story-driven to the max, East remains so clean and evocative with his lyrics – you feel like you’re in his shoes and you escape yourself for a little over four minutes. The track draws comparisons to Mobb Deep, Mos Def, and at times Lloyd Banks – if we’re speaking on narration.
Just when you thought the story-telling tracks couldn’t get any better, East delivers “Don’t Shoot.” We’re damn-near in crisis-type times in America, and artists are sharing their thoughts through different avenues. On “Don’t Shoot,” East takes us through the mind of a young boy in the neighborhood to a grown man who still faces obstacles with the law. Capturing the emotions numerous African-Americans deal with, he cleverly auto-tunes his voice for the adolescent portion of the song. Without a beat, this song will still hold weight and the message is timeless.
Ain’t no more weed in the car sir, the blunt gone
I got my hands ups, officer what’s the problem?
Please don’t shoot me sir, I just had a daughter
Look here go a *gun shots sound off*
Collaboration wise, East connected with Fabolous, Beanie Sigel, The Game, 2 Chainz, Sevyn Streeter, and Jazzy Amra, and Harlem native Cam’ron. Production is grabbed from various producers, including Buda & Grandz, Triple A, Cardo, Mr. Authentic, Phonix Beats, Cashflo, Jerm, Money Montage, and Rich Icy. East captures the essence of New York, while creating his own essence of New York.
If older rappers and Hip-Hop heads wanted to voice their opinion on new rappers not embracing the culture properly – as it once was before, now is not the time. East embodies himself a true modern day emcee. This a project you can’t ignore.
I talked my way right up out the projects n***a
Put your mind to it, anything is possible haha