Dave East could have been in D-Block. The Harlem rapper is so lyrically refreshing, you have to check the date when you listen to his music. He harks back to a time when New York rappers actually sounded like they were from New York and thrived purely off their skill instead of their image. In short, the city needs him now more than ever before.
He just killed a guest verse on Apollo Ali’s new record, and now that he’s signed to Nas’ Mass Appeal record label, we’re waiting to see what the former basketball player has in store for us next (working with Alchemist is a perfect fit). For those of you who don’t know too much about the kid, get familiar with some of his best songs below. But remember – Dave has a deep catalog dating back to 2010. So think of these songs as entry points into Dave’s material. He’s got a lot of heat.
Waste My Time (Prod. by Alchemist) 
Speaking of Alchemist, Dave East channeled Max B on this wavy cut from his No Regrets mixtape. These two should really drop a tape together. Dave has a whole arsenal of flows to match both sunny and inky Alc beats.
Thru Harlem (Prod. by June) 
In today’s rap world you have to be versatile to stay afloat, so even though we could hear Dave East riddle tracks with high-speed flows all day, it’s nice to hear him slow it down on this track from his debut mixtape Change Of Plans.
Amazing (Prod. by Nujabes) 
Here’s a test: put an MC over a beat without any drums, preferably just piano keys, and see how they do. If they keep your attention, like Dave East does here, they’re nice. Otherwise, they’re flimsy.
Gangstas (Prod. by Cardiak) 
Dude’s breath control is something to marvel at. On this highlight from his 2013 GEMINI tape Dave stitches rhymes into the beat with effortless precision, and it’s his well-practiced mic presence that gives his rhymes life.
Dave East – Red Bottoms (2014) [Prod. by RicoBeats]
The Harlem rapper’s breakout tape was 2014’s Black Rose, which was quickly repackaged into a 7-track EP for digital retailers once its popularity became apparent. The obvious standout was “Red Bottoms,” with its sledgehammer beat and chants from a cave. It sounds like Dave is finding ways to make his style more palatable to a wider audience without sacrificing his lyricism. If he can continue to do that, he’s got a bright future ahead of him.