By: Shale Briskin
Photo By: Shale Briskin
Not many things in life are more complex than hip-hop, and few types of hip-hop, if any, are more complex than the gritty sound of New York street hip-hop. However, most New York rappers that fit this profile are longtime veterans from the 1990s and early 2000s. Since then, there had not been a newer New York MC that sounded like someone from this era – until Dave East came along.
East grew up in East Harlem, hence the appropriate moniker. He originally wanted to become a basketball player, but because he also engaged in selling drugs since a young age, the basketball court became secondary to hustling. In 2013, East was introduced to Nas, the revered Queens icon, through Nas’ brother Jungle. Soon after, Nas signed East to his Mass Appeal Records label. Heavily influenced by New York legends such as Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Fabolous, and The LOX, among others, East has brought the same hard-hitting flow of street life in New York that both younger and older fans can vibe with. “
East is the future of New York hip-hop and has everything working for him to get there,” said Chris Arsenault, a junior at CCNY from Harlem.
East has now released 13 mixtapes, as well as a pair of EP’s. He has yet to release a full-length major label album but has already caught the eyes of hip-hop enthusiasts through his mixtapes and music videos. East’s New York hip-hop predecessors have taken notice. Juelz Santana and Fabolous have both featured East on their songs, but it was a third rapper, from Yonkers, that has become another mentor for the young MC.
One-third of The LOX, Styles P. has been a mainstay in New York hip-hop for over twenty years. In addition to recording three albums with his group, Styles has released nine solo albums, including G-Host back in May. He recently announced that a tenth solo album, Dime Bag, will hit the market November 2. Making his career on the basis of being the most hardcore rapper alive, Styles has certainly been successful, but he never wanted to be flashy, chasing after fame.
Styles’ humbleness and overall lifestyle made it easy for East to become a big fan of his. On the flip side, Styles has always kept an eye on the younger generation, in what has become an ever-changing genre, finding East to be among the best of hip-hop’s newcomers.
Styles and East have already teamed up a few times in the past, starting with two Styles’ features on East’s Hate Me Now mixtape in 2015. Having a few features is nice, but for the two MC’s to make a full-length joint album together was exactly what New York needed to hear. Styles and East released the new album Beloved. The title is a tribute to their namesakes, both of which are David, meaning “beloved” in Hebrew.
The album includes Thirteen tracks and features from Dyce Payne, Jazzy and Tish Hyman. Fellow LOX members Jadakiss and Sheek Louch also appear on the final track, “Load My Gun,” to properly end the album on a high note. “As if P and East weren’t enough, Kiss absolutely bodied that track,” exclaimed Jason Thomas, a sophomore student from CCNY, who also resides in Harlem. The production of the album includes contributions from Scram Jones, Chase N. Cashe and even Styles’ son, Noah.
The hip-hop of today is not the same as it once was, with many rappers now favoring auto-tune and rhyming about riches over lyricism and finding ways to inspire others. “Mumble rap just sucks and has no meaning to it, you know what I mean? It’s just not real hip-hop, but this year has been good for hip-hop, but for a 90s to present collabo, that’s just dope,” remarked Endi Suero, a CCNY senior from the Bronx.
Beloved is a reflection of the special connection a respected veteran rapper can make with a younger rapper that is clearly a student of the game and respects his elders. East and Styles just might make another album together down the road, one that New York City would certainly welcome it with open arms.