The real are always respected, even if they are not always liked by everyone. I am not a writer to pen rules and statements that are absolute, but sometimes one’s own aura can innately feel the power and authenticity of another person or entity; the feeling is undeniable.
Frequent criticisms of New York Rap is that the style of lyrical and upper echelon vernacular, wordplay, and rap elements of the like has faded in the times. Also, people are not simply looking for lyrical, storytelling rap no longer; they want to be able to dance, “turn up” and sing along in the clubs or Snapchat videos without always having to compromise the lyrical quality.
As mentioned in a previous article of mine, there needs to be a balance of lyricism that makes the difference between a great rapper and a great musician overall. It is for these reasons why New York Rap as a whole has virtually “fell-off” or rather fell behind the regions of the South, West and Midwest of the United States Rap scene in the 2000s era up until the early 2010s era.
Joey Bada$$, A$AP Rocky and the entire A$AP Mob Crew, Action Bronson and more have had to carry the new mantle of New York Rap while trying to gain prestige and overarching respect for the region as the best region overall. To adapt and therein survive, New York Rappers have had to realize that they need to be more than bars and need to construct full compositions that can capture their artists from intellectual and high energy standpoints. New York Rap artists even started incorporating mainstream pop elements and trap elements of modern Southern Rap in order to survive whilst not compromising their style; a new hybrid that has given them their roaring return in the modern day era. Don’t believe me? Just listen to Desiigner, Cardi B and A$AP Ferg’s latest and greatest hits to prove the statement.
Lyrical rap is not dead, it’s just not in the mainstream again. However, just like with Yin and Yang, the polarized branch cannot survive nor overpower the other forever.
In their decline up to recent times, New York has been looking for an artist to undeniably contend toe-to-toe musically, bar-wise and megastar status with the biggest names in the modern day Rap/Hip Hop sphere. Many of the regions were prophesized to “blow up” and take the mantle, such as Bobby Shmurda, A$AP Ferg, Joey Bada$$, and more. This is not to say that these gentlemen are not insanely talented and worldwide respected, but a definite King has not yet been established.
Cardi B is currently and undeniably the closest thing to this exalted leader to challenge the rap industry’s titans, with her regional hybrid rap touched with a Bronx spice, hilarious personality, distinguishable voice and music that has broken records that over 99.99% of those in rap history have not been able to reach.
Enter Dave East: A rapper who looks like and sounds like the angry version of J.Cole. A man who looks like what Chris Brown THINKS he looks like.
All jokes aside, Dave East is next up as a contender for the New Skool NY Rapper prophecy. I first heard of him in the XXL Freshman 2016 Class as one who stood above the mumble rappers as a true, gritty spitter who flawlessly fused marksman pinpoint lyricism and hood realness with every bar and punchline. At this time, all I knew was that he was Nas’ chosen disciple and mentee from Harlem.
That following fall he gave a strong commercial release of his project “Kairi Chanel” and began to be someone I kept on my radar. On an early 2010 mixtape rap era level hustle, Dave East would not just ride his own established wave, but was pragmatic in rap covers, releasing of singles and entire videos and traveling to build his brand across the nation.
In August of 2017, Dave East had a strong release with his commercial album “Paranoia” adding to his impressive discography. People have Dave East in conversation now about his place and level of position within the contemporary Hip Hop atmosphere, but one thing that new listeners and critics cannot disagree on, colloquially put, is that the big homie can seriously rap. Like, Dave East is incredibly NICE. However, lyrics alone and popular features from peers will not make for a great rap artist; one has to put in the proper mix of authenticity and eternal hustle.
“P2”, short for Paranoia Pt.2, is Dave East’s magnum opus, a declaration I will prophesize I will call now. The real are always respected, even if they are not always liked by everyone. While it may not be everyone’s style, Dave East, on “P2”, put his entire soul, powerful aggressiveness, full lyrical acuity, storytelling, Harlem hustler’s ambition, lady killer persona, and proud father figure into one magnificent album going 100% bar for bar from start to finish.
Dave East recognized the trend of New York Rap after studying the game from an eagle eye’s view and under the mentorship of Nasir Jones. He put out mixtape after mixtape, rap cover after rap cover, and video after video to keep growing with every piece of his artistry (not just rap) so that he could ascend. Dave East analyzed the problems in the original “Paranoia”, polished them in “P2” and never compromised his style while making good ass rap music. The seriousness and dexterity Dave East approaches his audience with on “P2” is a must listen for anyone who claims to like lyrical rap, conscious rap, street rap, modern rap and rap in general.
On “Corey,” for example, Dave East reaches Kendrick Lamar, Nas, Biggie and J.Cole levels of storytelling rap with a candid tale of his past dealing with jealousy, the price of superstardom, and the fault of man’s heart. The relatability was so powerful with lyricism not too lofty that I found myself playing the song 5-7 times in a row to absorb the incredibly deep sociological concepts explored in this track.
I found myself going crazy for days over “Annoying” Feat. T.I, which was the realest anthem since “Phone Jumpin” for a modern-day entrepreneur/hustler securing the bag with no impediments tolerated. I found myself with my jaw wide open like I was watching a movie playing, listening to “I Found Keisha”, the sequel to the critically acclaimed single “Keisha” that Dave East premiered to the world before “Paranoia”. The feature game was powerful as well with individuals such as Tory Lanez and Lloyd Banks complimenting the tracks rather than contrast the vibe and power; a criticism with his last project, “Paranoia.” The mood was not just aggressive, however: the positivity of “Thank You” and “Grateful” Feat. Marsha Ambrosius gave enough positivity and hope to last a long time through the storms of life.
If nothing, as a rap fan or listener, listen to “P2” by Dave East: a truly great precedent of how a rapper is supposed to evolve in their career and an extraordinary precedent rap music to come in 2018 year.