Last month Nas's protege released his 10th mixtape overall and the 2nd off the Mass Appeal record label - an independent that Nas himself has a partnership with - and at this point in late 2016 the time for Dave East to become a real household name in this game is now or never. Yes he’s had a buzz for many years now, and with actual skills and a Nas co-sign that’s definitely a winning hand to play with. Earlier this year he made the XXL Freshman list but that was honestly two years overdue, and since the Queens legend put him under his wing he’s released multiple mixtapes yet only to relative critical acclaim. Nothing he’s put out thus far has really had a major/global impact, even though Black Rose, Straight Outta Harlem, and Hate Me Now are all respected in regional circles and even the twittersphere to a degree. Nonetheless the debut album is apparently still on the shelf or still in the works, yet his latest mixtape Kairi Chanel is hopefully one step closer to the inevitable truth.
Is Dave East the next legendary MC from New York? Time will tell but here’s a track by track review of his latest, a 15 track mixtape that definitely shows he’s cut from the cloth of the golden era - with seemingly all the right qualities to carry on tradition.
It Was Written
“Image Nas signed you, hell of a dream” The first track on Kairi Chanel, named after his newborn daughter, is one of the strongest with gritty bars and strong production from Mr Authentic that will definitely give you that classic feel. East is nice, and with records like this there’s no reason to think his Def Jam debut won’t have some hitters on it.
Type of Time
“Strapped with my driver, you know there's no running up, you go against the family you dumb or what?, I'm bout to fuck four or five summers up” Another tough record but nothin groundbreaking or something you haven’t heard before. Still nothing wack about it by any means and East is snappin on this per usual, check it out within the video treatment below.
“I'm smoking cubans on vacation, my plug in Cuba but he Haitian, sak pase, I need a spot today, ***** with a attitude, I ain't Dr. Dre, my youngin' got a lot to make your heart stop today, think of Chinx when I'm in Far Rockaway” This shit is toughhhh but easy to mistake it as regular off first listen, yet once you live with it you gon play this on repeat simply cause East takes no bars off on this, and the production and hook is both on point - making it a tough record nothin more nothin less.
Can’t Ignore ft 2 Chainz
“See this is that pay style, I turn your girl to a Paypal, I'm turning dinner to takeout, I gave her D just like 8 Mile, whew, Skittles and M&Ms, murder and killer the synonyms, even massages ain't feeling them” SKIP! I usually like 2 Chainz and the party feel that he can give to a record, but this right here is trash from beginning to end and there’s nothing anyone can do with this.
From the Heart ft Sevyn Streeter
"Sending my love to you..." A remake of Zhane’s classic Sending My Love record in the 90’s, this is singularly the smoothest record off the Kairi Chanel project, largely in thanks to the timeless melody of the original (which Sevyn Streeter sings verbatim as opposed to trying to recreate), and also due to East’s effortless flow which definitely compliments the record well. The only problem is the ill advised minute long skit that opens up the track (and are found throughout the project for no apparent reason), which will inevitably make a majority of listeners press skip on the record before it even gets underway.
“30 ***** with the same plan, whipping coca was the game plan, thought I was rich with like 8 grand, until I got cuffed in that gray van” This one also opens up with a 1:20 skit that legitimately serves no purpose (attention all MC’s, get your resume up before you think we want to hear your phone or corner conversations on a record), yet once the instrumental starts (provided by Buda & Grandz and it’s heat) the appeal isn’t hard to find - as this is nothin but good Hip Hop.
“She from Jamaica, Queens, only came to Harlem to shop…” Story-tellin East does aiiight on this but it could be a lot better… as expected it’s not even close to BIG’s ‘Story to Tell,’ yet it’s also not on the same level as more modern Tony Story’s (Meek) or Lil Boy Fresh (underated classic Juelz), therefore in comparison East somewhat underwhelms on this despite using a proven formula. Check the video treatment below.
Eyes on Me ft Fabolous
“I walk in rooms and get attention I ain't even want, coulda flexed when I saw you, I ain't even stunt” Fab lowkey snaps on this with his laid back flow over Donell Jones overlooked classic ‘Shawty Got Her Eyes on Me,’ yet overall this compilation between Brooklyn and Harlem comes off as relatively uninspired. Also worth noting, another 2 minute skit that does nothing to help the record or the overall project, put inexplicably in the beginning of the record to ensure a strong percentage of listeners never even get to hear it.
S.D.E. ft Cam’ron
“Your raggedy guns, don't even acknowledge 'em, them old Eagles, ***** fuck is you Donovan?, my connect, I swear remain anonymous, and that's on everything, never name my accomplices, in all honestness (honestness), they the real reason for all my accomplishments” Classic Cam… and East coasts on this as well… not mad at this at all… Harlem!
“I come from the town that's famous for the Apollo, when you getting money, even famous bitches swallow” East in his Pablo Escobar bag and he delivers as expected.
The Only Thing
“I go to work like I'm Mexican, always get amnesia when they come in for questioning, looking for medicine, only rookie getting respect from the veterans” Produced by Mark Henry this is one of the best records off the project, and that’s thanks to a fire instrumental and a classic r&b sung by an uncredited ABIR (why uncredited? she certainly deserves credit), along with East doin his numbers which makes this overall a track all fans of Hip Hop should enjoy.
The Real Is Back ft Beanie Sigel
“His stomach empty but his clip full, he pop xannies by the fist full, drink syrup, skip school, pants hanging off his ass, ain't been in the bath, I try to steer 'em right cause I hate to see him crash” Beanie definitely still has one of the best pens in the game, it’s clear he never lost that, but it’s crazy to hear him rap without his voice… all the same tho the Philly legend never said his life was sweet and I give him credit for staying true to himself no matter the current trends of mumble rappers and feminine fashion statements. Beans is a soldier, and we all know if East can grow to be half the artist as the Rocafella legend then he’s likely to have a real good catalogue over time. Overall though this record is more like what could’ve been… as not even the best lyrics can compensate for the lack of bass in his voice, which was always one of Mac’s best qualities.
Slow Down ft Jazzy
“Times changing, money motivate 'em different now, I don't even see no youngn’s shovel when it's blizzards now, '96 if I dug like four cars out, I'd cop some Nike kicks, and thinking Chinese chicken, wings, and rice to get” niiiiice… more classic Hip Hop… I fux with this and shoutout Jazzy who is showing up on good records with reputable names this year left and right. “Don't be 30 in your mother crib, that's bugged out, understand success gon' come with hate just get that love out” smh talk to em…
“I asked my cousin why they pulled him over, he gave me a look as if he didn't know” In the most creative song on the project, East is maybe the first rap artist to use autotune in a way that actually makes sense - as instead of it sounding like incoherent nonsense - he uses it to be all the more descriptive while telling a story about his life. The verses go from his childhood - to adolescence - to where he’s at today as a man, and the audio effects on his voice symbolizes the progression. Meanwhile the story is tight and East comes through with the delivery, somewhat reminiscent of his mentor Nasty Nas who told a story better than anyone.
Bad Boy on Death Row ft The Game
“Me and Dave, Styles and Jada, heroin and gasoline, R.I.P. to Yams, but we in Harlem cookin' collard greens” This time East trades verses with The Game, and over another fire instrumental from Buda & Grandz how can you go wrong? Nothing life changing here but this is fire all the same, as both artists show up which is hopefully a sign of more good music in the future (keeping in mind The Game and Nas have continually collaborated throughout their careers).
Ultimately Dave East has a solid body of work here, where if this was his Def Jam debut I wouldn’t be mad at all. Out of 15 records I count one maybe two records that I don’t care for, but that leaves 13 others that all have redeemable qualities, with about 8 to 10 records that you can arguably say are undeniable. It’s good Hip Hop, and even if it’s not otherworldly it’s not wack in the slightest, and beyond the bars East has shown he can make complete records and by all accounts it seems like he has a good ear for instrumentals. Of course everybody’s hope is that knowing he’s a student of the game he can push his pen even further, and eventually follow the footprints of his mentor who redefined the genre by telling stories no one had ever told. In essence to be Nas protege comes with a responsibility to not be regular, and it seems like time will tell just how much Dave East appreciates and understands that. Like J Cole is to Jay Z, Nas deserves a legendary artist to one day help carry his brand, as it’s necessary that his style is preserved and maintained for future generations.