Open Space: Dave East

For the latest episode of Open Space, Harlem’s own Dave East stopped by MASS APPEAL HQ to talk about his Def Jam debut Paranoia: A True Story, which drops today.

“My lifestyle just changed dramatically over the last year,” says East, a new father whose financial situation has improved dramatically since he began his mixtape grind seven years ago.  “I’m from the streets and I’m used to being at the bottom and seeing people gettin’ it. So now I’m on that other side and it kinda got me watching my back and really keeping an eye on my surroundings and the people I bring around me. I try to keep that circle tight.”

His concerns are not just the usual celebrity complaints. “It’s a spooky feeling,” East reveals. “I’ve had two of my closest people to me get murdered in the last four years. It just be shit in my mind. But it be so much more positive shit going on that overshadows it, but that thought is still there, so I named it Paranoia.”

East feels his new project shows his artistic growth. “Anything you do long enough you gon’ start to really become a master,” he says. “I feel like all of the mixtapes up until now was finding me. I didn’t know who I was musically until my last two projects. I was still kind figuring out, ‘Am I gonna be this super-New York rapper? Or am I gonna do everything? Am I gonna try to experiment with different artists, different beats.?”

Having chosen the latter route, Dave East refuses to be put in a box. And while he’s happy to be working with the likes of Nas, Jeezy, Wiz Khalifa, French Montana, and Chris Brown, he feels a responsibility to represent for NYC rap fans. “People wanna hear that New York shit. They wanna hear the streets. They wanna hear the grimy, the pain. No matter how much that crossover record is needed, people be wanting to hear certain shit from me, cause you can’t get it from too many people no more.” The secret, he says, is balance. Check out the full conversation up top.

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