Talks music, style and legacy.
Rising from Harlem…
Hailing from Harlem in NYC, Dave East’s exposure to power of good style was an early one. A decade or so later, a five thousand strong trainer collection and a penchant for donning a drip ensemble – the sartorial flair has clearly rubbed off. From his first EP Change of Plans to cosigning with Nas, the rise has been one of talent fueled by hard graft – what’s next? PAUSE sat down with Dave for a catch up.
Welcome to London. I hear this is your first time in the city. How are you finding it so far?
I love it. It’s the only city I’ve been to that reminds me of New York.
Really? What about London reminds you of New York?
Just the vibe, people sleeping on the streets. It just gives me that Manhattan feeling. A lot of places you got to, they feel foreign, like out of here, with the accent and all of that, you know you’re foreign but as far as the vibe it feels and looks like an older city. Like in New York, you get an old city vibe like the shit has been here forever and London feels like it’s been here forever.
Coat: Astrid Anderson, Joggers: Cole Buxton, Trainers: Nike
Because it’s so busy?
Yes. Because there’s some places you go and you just instantly get into a relaxed mood. Like when I go to LA or I go to Miami, soon as I get there I feel like i’m on vacation, even though I might be working and have things to do, the place just gives you a vacay feel. But when i’m home in New York, I’m nah, we gotta get to it. I’m always getting to it, so I feel like that’s what New York does.
I wouldn’t call it the place of dreams, I feel like wherever you’re dreaming at, you should make it work there. You know what I mean, because in New York there’s alot of obstacles there too. As much as it’s good, it’s hard. It’s cold in New York and if you aint prepared for that cold then you can’t be outside. New York is somewhere that’ll focus you up and focus you up quick.
Speaking of getting to work. Album coming out soon? How’s that process going?
Yup, Survival man, I just turnt it in, Def Jam got so it’s ready to go. I started recording about a year ago, I started about September last year, well I started getting in the zone of it, like choosing beats, choosing topics. Me and my A&R Stevo, we was going back and forth on album titles but maybe around the end of December, top of January we agreed on Survival.
What made you land on that title?
It’s my life man, I feel like, I’m 31 and a lot of my friends never seen 30 or they spent 30 in a jail cell so I feel like that’s what I’ve been doing. Surviving through it all, the good the bad, whatever, it’s been a survival. I feel like the average person could relate to that, that dude that’s got to get up and get to work every day, in his mind, he’s surviving, he’s doing what he’s got to do to survive. A mum taking care of her kids by herself, she’s doing what she’s got to do to survive so I just thought it was like a life stamp of a name, like you know how all the illest albums, got THAT name – Illmatic, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, so I was like I need a name that’s going to stand out, well at least to me. They can take it how they take it but I know what survival means to me, and I feel like everybody has their own survival story so that’s why I named it that.
Hoody: Off White @ Browns Fashion, Jeans: Fiorucci, Trainers: Nike
Everyone’s got their favourite outfit that they’ve worn to award shows or events but what’s one outfit that you think back on and think, ‘what was I doing?’
An outfit that I regret wearing? I don’t do bad outfits man, I don’t do bad ones really. Have I ever had a bad outfit? I don’t really do that, everywhere I pull up, I pull up cool. I’m always with drip.
So we know about your music and fashion, but you’re also playing Wu-Tang’s Method Man in an upcoming biopic?
Yeah, the Wu-Tang biopic that’ll be on Hulu on September 4th.
How’s that coming along?
We just wrapped the first season, and that was super fun.
What was it like playing Meth? He’s such an icon and legend in the hip-hop arena.
That was dope. I can’t really describe because I was excited that I’m even going to be portraying this man because I’ve been idolizing Meth forever. He always was the illest to me man out of Wu. I don’t know, it was a process, like the whole acting thing. It’s different to music because of the whole timing thing that goes into it.
You know with that rap everything is in-out, photoshoot in, boom boom boom, and then we’re out but with acting it’s like okay, now do that forty more times, do that thirty more times. So it was just more patience that I had to throw in my repertoire. But it was dope man, to be able to vibe with Meth, to be able to vibe with RZA who was on set like every day and really being able to do my homework on him and them as a group, and really focus in on them.
I was YouTubing old interviews, watching his performances from Source Awards, these awards and that awards, and it really helped me portray it better because Meth was mad vibrant and that’s naturally me. I play all day long, people who know me know I play all day, I have my moods but normally I’m playful, and when you think acting you think you got to be serious, but to portray Meth I had to be me, I had to be silly because that’s how Meth was.
There was a few times in the day where I might have to, you know, get serious, get my Denzel on you know, but other than that it was super dope because we’re so much alike, we’ve got a lot of the same energy and vibe so it wasn’t really like I was trying to portray Jim Carrey or something, I was playing Meth. Not taking anything away from him but it was like oh okay, I’m very familiar with your life, I’m very familiar with your style and lingo and your whole vibe so it just took me having to sit with him and him giving me his blessing, telling me “oh sit like this” or “move like this,” not even that but him telling be you; “I know they gave you this role for a reason don’t just try to be Method Man but be you and just keep me at the back of your mind,” and when I got to sit back and watch it, I had the chin strap, hair napped and all that, they took all the tattoos off, It was dope.
I can’t wait for the world to see it because I feel like that was something I really put the time in and that was real. You got to remember I’m a rapper, I’m not an actor, I mean I act but, you know. But that was a super dope experience, super fun.