Hip-Hop Wired: What was your upbringing like? And how did music play a role in your adolescence?
Dave East: My upbringing was cool. I had both of my parents around me. That’s a definite plus. My parents have been married for over 30 years. That was rare.
And musically, those two have been playing music forever. My father was always playing Earth, Wind & Fire, Marvin Gaye and the Supremes when I was a kid. I have an old soul. I’m 26-years-old, but I like that old feel. That’s what I came up listening to before rap.
The first rap that I heard was by Snoop. And that was before I even got into New York rap, ya know, before I got put onto Biggie and all that. My cousins, were listening to The Chronic and Tupac, they were into it heavy. I’ve been around music since I came out my mother’s womb. It’s just a part of who I am.
Hip-Hop Wired: Who would you say is the King of New York today?
Dave East: Ain’t no King of New York today. I said that in my record, “Gift of God.” The only King of New York is Frank White. It was either Biggie or Christopher Walker in the movie. Ain’t no King of New York. You have people that will always have they’re spot with what they’re doing –– the Jay Zs, the Nases. What they did, you can never do nothing with that. No one will ever be able to do it like Jay did it. Nobody will ever be able to do it like Nas did it.
Nas just did a tour off an album he put out 20 years ago. Who else is doing that? People can’t do that. So no, I don’t think there’s a King of New York. There’s no one person that I would put the crown on they ass. Nah. Definitely not none of these new cats [laughs].
Hip-Hop Wired: Childish Gambino dissed Drake, Kendrick Lamar and ScHoolboy Q. He said at one of his recent concerts that he was a way better rapper/singer. How do you feel about that? What are your thoughts on beef in Hip-Hop?
Dave East: I’m in the streets everyday. You can come to my block and actually see me. I feel like beef in the rap industry is like wrestling. It’s all entertainment. Childish Gambino is probably going to sit right in the same room and still kick it with Kendrick and all of that. Laugh and giggle and not say nothing bad to anyone at all. Then [he’ll] go have a show somewhere else, and might be feeling himself with the crowd, and whatever his energy is, he’ll speak on that. But he won’t go say whatever he’s saying around people.
Hip-Hop Wired: What’s a dream project, who would you love to collaborate with today?
Dave East: I would need some Erykah Badu and some Nas on that. I would definitely need Dr. Dre, even if he’s not rapping on it, just his touch would suffice. I would definitely want whatever he can contribute to it. I’m a huge fan of Dr. Dre and his musical genius. And Styles P.
For my style, honestly, I want to work with different singers, like Jill Scott and Marsha from Floetry. I want to work with people that’ll take the record somewhere else.
Hip-Hop Wired: Whose work in the rap game have you studied?
Dave East: Jay Z, I studied Hov for a while man. I studied Biggie and Nas –– It Was Written, Stillmatic. I really broke those records down, had them on repeat. Life After Death, Mase and Harlem World. Cam’ron and Confessions of Fire. The Lox and Money, Power, Respect. Those I sat down with and broke down for real.