Dave East – “Survival” review

Dave East is a 31 year old rapper from Harlem, New York who first caught my attention as a part of the 2016 XXL Freshman Class. This earned him a contract with Mass Appeal Records/Def Jam Recordings & now after 3 years of mixtapes leading up, Dave is finally fulfilling fans’ hopes for his full-length debut.

The opener “They Wanna Kill You” talks about being glad that he never got shelved over a bland Swizz Beatz instrumental then the next song “Penthouse” talks about making it over an uneventful beat. The track “Godfather IV” with Nas sees the 2 trading verses over a classy DJ Green Lantern instrumental while the song “Need a Sign” talks about people acting cool with him now that Dave’s famous over a somber instrumental from araabMUZIK.

The track “On My Way 2 School” reflects on his time in school over a moody instrumental while the song “17” looks back at his adolescence over a woozy trap beat from Timbaland. The track “Mama I Made It” needs no further explanation over an orchestral instrumental while the song “OG” with Rick Ross gets sensual over a luxurious instrumental.

The track “What’s Goin’ On?” with Fabolous sees the 2 spitting charismatic bars over a synth-funk instrumental while the song “Baby” talks about his ride or die woman over a soul sample-inflicted trap beat. The track “Alone” is a trite reiteration of JoDeCi’s “Feenin’” while the song “Everyday” with Gunna sees the 2 talking about their new lifestyles over a dime a dozen trap beat.

The track “Devil Eyes” with E-40 & Mozzy sees the 3 talks about the life in the streets over a grim instrumental while the song “Night Shift” with Lil Baby sees the 2 flexing over a vibrant Murda Beatz instrumental. The track “Wanna Be a G” with Max B finds the 2 talking about a kid who wants to gangbang over slow yet rhythmic instrumental while the song “Me & Mines” talks a homie of his over a jazzy beat.

The track “Daddy Knows” is a touching tribute to his daughter Kairi with a neo-soul flavored instrumental while the song “What You Mad At?” finds Dave angrily going at his haters over a churchy sample that later switches up into a tense boom bap beat. The penultimate track “On Sight” is a decent club banger & then the closer “The Marathon Continues” of course pays tribute to Nipsey Hu$$le over a boom bap beat with some keys.

As much as I love Dave, this was just decent. He’s definitely still a great lyricist, but it’s longer than it needed to be & a bit too focus-grouped for me. Nonetheless, he’s earned the right to make it as far as he has & I hope the album’s gonna do well on the charts.

Score: 2.5/5

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