Dave East reveals that his former basketball teammate Kevin Durant gave him a home and some studio time to help launch his career.
Before East got a co-sign from Nas and signed to Def Jam Records, he was a 6’5 scoring machine with a legitimate shot at going to the NBA. In his hooping days he played on the same AAU squads as future NBA players like Michael Beasley, Ty Lawson and Kevin Durant. In an interview with SLAM Magazine, East talked about his journey in basketball and also shared a story about how his former teammate Durant helped jumpstart his rap career.
When East’s college basketball days came to an abrupt halt because of clashing with coaches, he wound up getting into the streets. That led to a six-month jail stint that forced him to change his life. He already had a reputation for being a decent rapper in basketball locker rooms, so he decided to take it more seriously. He released his first mixtape Change Of Plans in 2010 which flew under the radar. But somehow the tape wound up in the hands of Durant who was so impressed by what he heard, he offered East some assistance in recording his next tape.
“He was like, ‘Yo, that’s you rapping? That’s crazy,’” Dave recalls. “He was like, ‘I got a studio in the crib. Whenever you free and you wanna come out here, I’ll make sure you get out here.’ I was like, I’m free right now.”
And like that, East was on a plane to OKC, where he stayed with Durant for a week and a half to record his 2011 mixtape American Greed. The experience had a profound impact on his outlook.
“It was pure motivation. Kevin don’t smoke. I was smoking. So I was like, Yo, bro, I need to go get some roll-ups at the 7-Eleven. He’d throw me the keys to the Maybach like, ‘Go ahead.’ I’m scared to drive it—I don’t wanna crash. I’m in a Maybach, but this is my friend that’s my same age that I started basketball with. So it was just amazing to me that, damn, his mother’s not working no more. My mother’s calling me—she driving a school bus.”