Dave East, the Harlem based, Nas approved artist responsible for hood celebrated projects Kairi Channel, Black Rose, No Regrets, and my personal favorite, the “Apache” flipped sampled single “All Summer”, blesses us with his latest joint “Paranoia: A True Story.”
On the title track “Paranoia” East briefs us on his illegal dealing which bring about foreign cars, financial significance, self-imposed alienation, attractive females, jealous associates, and a less than healthy mental state that allows him to see the deceased. Atlanta emcee “Jay “Jeezy” Jenkins delivers his standard verse outlining how courting chaos through excess can be lucrative yet problematic; but vows not to fall victim to the pitfalls of his lifestyle. Everybody criticizes the “Thug Motivation 101” rappers lyricism or lack thereof, but I swear I’m going to say “I made a million a million times” from now until “New Year’s.”
“The Hated” includes an introduction from Nas, but sadly no verse from one of the best to ever do it. Few artists have the longevity and success that the Queensbridge legend has attained. When it says “Featuring Nas” we need to hear bars not just promotion. Anything else is downright criminal. However, Dave East supplies a vivid narrative of nefarious deeds done by friends, family, and the rise and fall of two hustlers. “Phone Jumping” compares and contrasts the life that Mr. Brewster used to live to his current situation. From being broke to being on a boat, to living in low income housing to blowing a re-up by betting on LeBron. Wiz Khalifa accompanies East on the track listing the ways wealth has given him opportunity in business, and personal relationships. The start of the track makes me reminisce of Busta Rhymes song “Gimme Some More” on his album “Extinction Level Event. “The not safe for work “Jazzy Interlude” is a well done homage to the Bad Boy Records R&B group Total’s nineties hit “Kissing You.”
Pop stalwart Chris Brown sings of salacious acts while searching for a woman with physical flawlessness on “Perfect.” Dave East drops a verse divulging his plot to woo a particular woman using romance and materialism. Perseverance and vision over an understated piano highlight the record “Find a Way.” Dave rhymes about opportunity cost, needing a change of scenery, and how financial stability fuels his ambition which effect long term friendships. The underrated, underappreciated producer Harry Fraud lays the foundation for Dave East and French Montana to offer us stylish stanzas about transforming from poverty to prosperity on “Maneuver.” The two emcees verbally tag team the track about the spoils gained by illicit acts.
Over a guitar laced beat the emcee questions his relationship with a suspicious significant other on “My Dirty Little Secret.” Mr. East ponders the motives of his object of affection just short of an obsessive compulsive disorder. “Wanna Be Me” discusses the age old subject of artist’s frustration with fame. Dave talks about baby mama drama, family illness, the long lines to participate in mundane acts before his rise to celebrity, and the balance between taking care of friends, and being taken advantage by them. The emcee challenges others validity in the street on “Have You Ever.” Dave details living a life of out of state drug trafficking, gangbanging, contraband on consignment, and dead friends memorialized on articles of clothing.
It is not a surprise that Dave East is signed to highly exalted rhyme smith Nas’s Mass Appeal label. The artist exhibits a unique style, more than competent bars, and something that is scarce in hip-hop right now; a talent for storytelling.