EXCLUSIVE – If there were a word that Dave East could use to describe the stage that he’s at in his decade-long career right now, it would be maturity.
The Harlem, New York native is entering his 14th year in the music industry, and this next journey around the Sun may be his most important. Dave East has reached a point where he’s no longer the same hungry kid looking for a way out of his situation. He’s becoming a brand with all of his endeavors outside of music.
I feel like the shit that used to excite me doesn’t anymore, and the things that were my early drive isn’t my drive anymore,” Dave tells HipHopDX. “My first drive was to get out the projects, and now it’s like what’s pushing me now?”
He added: “What’s pushing me is the respect of my peers where they’ll see me and shout out what I’m doing or seeing fans from all backgrounds with a Dave East lyric tatted on them that tells me with the time I been in this shit, I did me enough to the point that someone bought into it and wants to see where else I take this shit.”
As The Book of David rapper explains it, he’s in a space right now that he’s always dreamed about. There are no restrictions on how Dave East wants to move with his career, given the work he’s already accomplished. According to Dave, he’s got all of his “bucket list shit done,” from being Grammy nominated to getting signed by Nas to working with the artists he idolized, such as Snoop Dogg, The LOX and so much more.
The biggest challenge for Dave now is to sustain that success, and with that comes a whole new playing field for the rapper to maneuver through to take things to the next level.
Now I’m really trying to boss up a little more. I did me as Dave East, and I’m putting my hands in different things, shit I’m not even familiar with but always wanted to tap into,” says Dave. “I’m trying to stay out the way and expand because now there’s others coming after me that’s family and little bros that have a vision, and I have a platform to help them with that.”
One of the ways he’s expanding is in the TV/film space. In 2017, Dave East began his acting career with roles in BET’s Being Mary Jane and VH1’s The Breaks. He landed a supporting role in the Netflix film Beats two years later, but his biggest break came from the Hulu series Wu-Tang: An American Saga. In that show, Dave portrays Method Man in a role that has received positive reviews.
Dave East doesn’t plan on stopping there, as the praise from his role as Tical has him auditioning for other projects that he won’t reveal just yet. All he will say is that he wants to go bigger.
“I kind of like the movie vibe over the TV show vibe. But who’s to say what will happen? I’m looking to do more movies,” Dave says before I ask if he’s ready to step out of his comfort zone. “That’s what I want to do. I need to be the next Aquaman or some shit like that. I don’t want to play a rapper or gangster. I want to play something that you not going to be expecting from me.”
Shattering expectations is something Dave East has been used to his whole life. Growing up in Harlem, New York, already has its fair share of stereotypes, but Dave never subscribed to any of that. The age-old adage of being a product of an environment didn’t exist for the rapper as he always broke the mold.
There aren’t many people from the hood who can say they have a buzzing acting career, own a fully-functional store, have a sneaker collaboration with a respected brand like Diadora and a thriving music résumé that continues to expand. With so much going for him, Dave’s reach is limitless.
It’s dope seeing all this come to light for me, and I think it says a lot about my brand and what I’ve built over the years to where these top corporations are working with me,” he says. “It speaks heavy on how far I’ve came and I want to keep going and just last. That’s really what is left for me to do is to live, expand and grow old. I want to see my kids go to college and have their first boyfriends and shit like that. I wanna be here to see all that.”