Handsome -[Dave East]

Dave East has been one of my favorite rappers since his highly regarded 2016 Kairi Chanel mixtape. The Harlem, New York emcee’s rapid semi-aggressive flow is what earned him a cosign from all-time great Nas, among multiple features such as “The Hated” and “Godfather 4.” However, before his illustrious rap career launched, East was on a mission to make it to the NBA, having been AAU teammates with Kevin Durant and Michael Beasely, followed by a division 1 NCAA scholarship. I highly recommend reading Dave East’s interview with basketball magazine SlamOnline, as it highlights what could have been the emcee’s profession. What makes East a special artist is that he receives head nods from both old and new school judges, having a working formula to satisfy all rap listeners. The perfect illustration of East catering to the style of hip-hop’s pioneers is through his phenomenal collaborative album Beloved with The Lox legend Styles P. Moreover, the opening track “They wanna Kill You” on East’s debut album Survival is produced by DJ Premier. On the flip side, East makes sure to remain relevant with the modern rap sound, having collaborated with Lil Baby, Gunna, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Offset, 2 Chainz, MoneyBagg Yo, Lil Durk and more. Occasionally, whenever a hit single drops from another rapper, East releases an “Eastmix,” which is his remixed version of the original. My all-time favorite “Eastmix” from Dave East is his version of Drake’s popular “Free Smoke” song, which I actually prefer over the original.

Until now, East has been comfortably quiet, still allowing listeners to dissect his solid debut album. Exclusively releasing via WorldStarHipHop’s YouTube channel, Dave East dropped a new single and music video entitled “Handsome,” which is the first single off his upcoming mixtape Karma 3. Directed by StreetHeat, the video is like any other of East’s, in the streets of New York with his day ones such as Kiing shooter. Accompanied by polished 808’s, the production is moderately paced to match East’s nonchalant flow. On the track, East recalls the difficult moments of his childhood, such as “calling [his] ni****” from jail” while praying they pick up the phone, receiving an eviction notice, and wanting a coat during the winter but his uncle prioritizing drugs: “When it got cold I wanted a coat / my uncle was trippin he wanted some dope. While most of the track details East’s past, lines such as “eating salmon on a private boat” offer a glimpse of the rapper’s current luxury life that he earned. However, East makes himself clear that he hasn’t forgotten his roots by way of his contributions: “I’mma do all that I gotta do, go back to my hood, they say that we proud of you.” East also briefly speaks on his basketball career when he says: “I really had NBA dreams, go overseas, or get a full ride to Duke / Now, when I play [in] the hood, I’m just slidin’ through, not a motherf****** thing I gotta prove.” Dave East is an artist that never disappoints me; his releases are so consistent to the point that I add songs to playlists before finishing them. I have no doubts, but if the remaining songs on Karma 3 share the same quality as “Handsome,” then hip-hop heads are in for a treat. I also hope that the mixtape features Nipsey Hussle, (rip) whom East shared a special friendship and music relationship with, having collaborated on each other’s discography. It was revealed by East that he and Nipsey had been working on a collaborative project before Hussle’s tragic death. East has certainly kept Nipsey’s marathon running, adding a tribute track on Survival. Listen to the music video for “Handsome” below!

Words by Brandon Washington