Angels & Demons; Dave East for Office Magazine








It’s often difficult to bullseye exactly what makes an artist rise to a certain level of fame—such is not the case with Dave East.

Cosigned to Nas’ Mass Appeal Records back in 2014, East quickly joined the ranks with some of the most respected artists in the industry, and the rest is history. But this string of success didn’t come without its share of struggles. “I was watching a lot of people pass, go to jail, and shit like that around me at a young age. So it kind of had me thinking, ‘Well this is life. This is what it is.’ And Nas changed that for me, to be honest. He moved me out of the projects,” says East.

Both defyingly dedicated and radically raw, he seems to have his recipe down pat—just in time for the release of his debut studio album, Survival. And although he’s enjoying his view from the top, he doesn’t forget about what happened at the bottom—in fact, he almost entirely credits the NYC streets that made him for his current good fortune. “There’s things I wish I could delete. It’s helped make me the man I am today, but there’s stuff I’m not proud of. But I had to do all of that to get right.”


  • November 15, 2019

    It’s often difficult to bullseye exactly what makes an artist rise to a certain level of fame—such is not the case with Dave East.

    Cosigned to Nas’ Mass Appeal Records back in 2014, East quickly joined the ranks with some of the most respected artists in the industry, and the rest is history. But this string of success didn’t come without its share of struggles. “I was watching a lot of people pass, go to jail, and shit like that around me at a young age. So it kind of had me thinking, ‘Well this is life. This is what it is.’ And Nas changed that for me, to be honest. He moved me out of the projects,” says East.

    Both defyingly dedicated and radically raw, he seems to have his recipe down pat—just in time for the release of his debut studio album, Survival. And although he’s enjoying his view from the top, he doesn’t forget about what happened at the bottom—in fact, he almost entirely credits the NYC streets that made him for his current good fortune. “There’s things I wish I could delete. It’s helped make me the man I am today, but there’s stuff I’m not proud of. But I had to do all of that to get right.”





    • What made you choose to go with Nas and Mass Appeal Records—how do you think that decision has changed your trajectory?

       

      100 percent. I feel like Nas is definitely one of the greatest, if not The Greatest—one of the legends, one of the icons and one of the people that I have always looked up to. I just felt like the connection was ill, ‘cause we’re from the same hood basically. I was in Queensbridge everyday. I could walk to his building where I was from, and me and his brother was super tight, so it was beyond just getting a deal with somebody or somebody just saying, “Yo wanna sign?” It was a really dope connection, man. Even when we first met we had so much in common and so much to talk about—just blocks, people, stuff that I know we can’t do with the average audience you sign. So as dope as it was that it was with Nas, it was a lot deeper than the music.

       

      You’ve recently announced your debut album Survival. What can we expect? 

       

      Classic, in my opinion. I feel like I got something for everybody. The production is elite. The topics of discussion are worldly and something that anybody can relate to. I kind of experienced it from just talking about where I am from, the blocks and stuff like that to make it more relatable.





      God and The Devil. Straight like that. I feel like I have a great heart. I’ll let you sleep on my bed, and I’ll sleep on the floor—I got a heart like that. But don’t cross me. 

       

       

      With survival comes success. What does success look like to you? 

       

      Success to me looks like no stress as far as your family goes. For a person to get successful, it comes with stress, but my thing with success is that my mom is good and doesn’t have to worry about nothing. That’s success to me. And also being able to sit back and watch the seed I planted. Not really sit back, ‘cause I’ve been working the whole time, but I’ve seen the work I put in from the older and the younger people around me. I want to continue that.

       

      How is this one different than any other you’ve recorded? 

       

      I feel like Survival is my most detailed body of work. Probably my most—I wouldn't say passionate, but there’s a lot of pain just because of the things that were happening while I was recording this project. Like through my last two to three projects, somebody died in the making of them, and I mean that didn’t happen this time, besides Nipsy and my boy Cliff; they got killed. At the time when that happened back in March, I was active, so I was kind of off the rack for awhile. I wasn’t even in my own thoughts for days. I got back to that maybe around August. So this is also the most time I’ve spent on a project—going back and tweaking it and letting people hear it. All my closest people that either inspired me or that I inspired gave me feedback. So I’ve paid the most attention to this project. It’s my baby. It’s gonna mean something forever, ‘cause it’s my debut album on Def Jam, and from where I’m from, that don’t happen everyday.




      You’re a gemini, notoriously known for having two contrasting, yet equal sides. What would you say are your two personalities?

       

      God and The Devil. Straight like that. I feel like I have a great heart. I’ll let you sleep on my bed, and I’ll sleep on the floor—I got a heart like that. But don’t cross me. Don’t try to play with me or think I’m dumb. I can be a whole other person. That did happen with a few people in my life. They’d meet one day, and they ended up knowing. I gotta say that as I have gotten older, my geminism cooled out. It used to be hot, cold, hot, cold, hot, cold, all the time. I truly believe that shit is real, ‘cause me and my father are both geminis. I’m June 3, and he’s June 8—and I wouldn’t call it bipolar, but it was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde shit, you know? He was cool in the morning, and then at night, he is speaking to you like, “Fuck outta here!”

       

      I want to also talk about your role as Method Man on Wu-Tang. What was the process like getting into that character? 

       

      It was a challenge, but I was relieved when I got the lead as Meth. I went into the audition two times, and then I got the role. Maybe a week or two went by before I actually chopped it up with Meth, so I was panicking for a little bit. Then I went on set with him, chopped it up, got the vibe with him and really did my research on him as a person. I talked to people that know him and stuff like that. It made it a lot smoother for me. I couldn’t get out of his character; I’d be leaving the set and still be Shotgun, and it was dope, ‘cause I always wondered what it was like for actors to become their character. You know they say like Heath Ledger (RIP), when he played the Joker, he locked himself in a room and turned into the Joker. So it wasn’t that extreme, but I was definitely on some Wu-Tang shit. I was listening to all of the interviews, watching all of the videos—I was just totally consumed with Wu-Tang.






       

       

      If you could go back and give your younger self a piece of advice, what would you say? 

       

      Relax. Think about the consequences of your actions, and know that shit will get better. I had a mental block up until a certain age. I didn’t know where I was going. I was watching a lot of people pass, go to jail, and shit like that around me at a young age. So it kind of had me thinking, “Well this is life. This is what it is.” And Nas changed that for me, to be honest. He moved me out of the projects. He showed me a different outlook on life and what I was capable of becoming. He gave me a different outlook on life that I was able to show others. You know, it’s a chain reaction. So, I would definitely have told my younger self to calm down. I mean it ain’t that serious—focus on your craft a little harder. There’s things I wish I could delete. It’s helped make me the man I am today, but there’s stuff I’m not proud of. But I had to do all of that to get right.

       

      One last question, how many times have you watched Belly

       

      Seven billion, man.















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