14 October 2016

REVIEW: Dave East - Kairi Chanel

The Mecca of Hip-Hop has always and will probably forever be New York City. In recent years, a lot of New York natives as well as fans, A & R’s, and even other artists have fluently expressed their disdain for the city’s culture and musical sound. Most would say that New York has no sound or that there isn’t an artist that captivates and embodies what NY hip-hop is; whether it be that gully and grimy LOX vibe or story telling abilities like Nas & Raekwon. With what has been dubbed as “mumble-rap,” catching onto many artists of the younger generation in all regions of the culture, many fans in NY aren’t pleased with the trend. Through what seems to be a small pandemic in the culture, there is a light. One true MC is being called “New York’s savior” and he goes by the name of Dave East. Hailing out of Harlem, Dave East was a part of this year’s XXL Freshmen class and voted #1 of the bunch and not without reason; East isn’t anywhere near the mumble rappers he’s of a completely different caliber.

From garnering the attention of Nas and being signed to his label MASS APPEAL, to a deal with Def Jam, Dave East’s respect has been growing with each passing verse he spits. Since attracting so much acknowledgment, it’s only right that we are given a current body of work to delve into as a follow up to the hype and recent success, right? As fans we received not only that but a gem in this newer era of rap. Naming his newest mixtape after his newborn daughter, Kairi Chanel, Dave East pulls no punches with the quality in his track selection. From start to finish this tape is nothing but raw, genuine lyrics. His lyrical ability as well as his demeanor is why he has been heralded and welcomed into the game by accomplished vets like Styles P, Jadakiss, Cam’ron and more.

“The only rookie getting respect from the veterans” lives up to the statement with tracks like, “The Real Is Back” featuring the Broad Street Bully himself, Beanie Sigel. While damn near every track is complete flame emojis, this one will definitely be one of the fan favorites. “The Real Is Back” is four minutes of these two MC’s bridging the gap between generations and absolutely destroying the track. As the track develops, fans can hear the influence of older generations of rap and why Dave East has received the accolades he has. This track is also special because this is probably one of the best verses to date from Beans since coming home from prison and recovering from his gunshot wounds.

My personal favorite off of this mixtape would definitely belong to “Don’t Shoot.” “Don’t Shoot” is what we as Black Americans have been dealing with in regards to our violent and fatal history with police across the nation. The song starts off from a ten-year-old Dave’s point of view as he describes his brief first encounters with the police; one of which he was accused of looking like a suspect from a robbery. With no chorus or hooks, the song naturally shows its progression through the maturity of East’s voice. In what would be considered the second verse of the track in a teenage voice, Dave is in high school and has hopes of making the varsity Basketball team. While growing into his own individual, Dave becomes colder and more exposed to life as a lot of his friends were sent to group homes with more being interrogated & harassed by law enforcement. Time has come for him to enter college and he has scholarship offers to hoop, but not without getting pulled over by two police for DWB (Driving While Black) after graduation. While stopped, East attempts to show the officers his diploma but to no avail causing his hate for the police to build. As the story continues Dave continues his life story of going to college, getting expelled, selling drugs, spending time in jail, career success all the way up to the birth of his daughter Kairi Chanel. After the birth of Dave’s daughter, he is stopped by an officer yet again with a final conversation that ends with Dave East begging the officer (with his hands up) not to shoot for the sake of his newborn, but does anyway. Seems all too familiar doesn’t it? I feel this is the most pivotal song on the album because it directly correlates and reflects what has been going on in countless communities for years.  

For this to be a mixtape it sounds a hell of a lot like an album. Songs like “Keisha” will make you think you are listening to Biggie’s, “I got a Story to tell” except over a Wu-tang style produced beat. Other tracks like “Type of Time” produced by Cardo, showcases more of Dave East’s raw ability to flow over a track. I don’t know if this just my biased opinion but there’s not one track that can be considered a miss. Solely focusing on rapping in his own lane and not trying to imitate what is popular or make music that will just get radio play, the Harlem bred MC shows he is not only comfortable within his own shoes but knows not too many rappers can fuck with him, and I agree.

When it comes down to it, Kairi Chanel is a body of work that hip-hop fans will love. This mixtape channels and resonates with a variety of different New York hip-hop greats from all five boroughs, which is why I believe this project has had such great reception. Peaking at No.3 on Billboard’s top Hip-hop/ R&B albums, only behind the sisters Solange and Beyonce, Dave East can celebrate the success he has achieved thus far. With his debut album on the way with the executive producer being Nas himself, I can only imagine what is in store for fans. Please do yourself a favor and go cop this.

Dave East - Type of Time

Dave East - Keisha 

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