Tupac Shakur was perhaps one of the first rappers to juggle his two creative passions: rap and comedy. Over the past few years, Dave East has followed in those same footsteps. Following the release of his latest project, RAISED (how did i get here), while portraying Method Man on Hulu’s Wu-Tang: an American saga, the East Harlem, NY rapper peels back the layers of his talent. He shows the world how versatile he is. In a new interview with XXLEast tells how he makes it all possible.
After being introduced to Los Angeles-based production duo Mike and Keys through the late Nipsey Hussle, he teamed up with the duo for his 2020 single, “Handsome,” from his Karma 3 album. Dave East knew their undeniable synergy would create a moving project paired with his signature New York flow.
“Mike and Keys is my sound, 100%,” Dave East shares with XXL March 11, the same day RAISED arrival. “They’re like one of the few producers in the game who’s really mastered my sound without really trying.”
The nine-song labor of love features production solely handled by Mike and Keys as well as features from R&B greats Musiq Soulchild and Anthony Hamilton, in addition to rising crooner Kalan.FrFr, Benny The Butcher, Trae Tha Truth and more.
“But I was talking to them,” East reveals of how he enlisted West Coast beatmakers for the effort. “I was like, ‘Yo, we gotta do an album, bro. Just me rapping over all the beats. Nobody else.’ So we finally put it into play.”
But before leaving RAISED last month, Dave East delivered the Harry Fraud-produced film HOFFA last year and Karma 3 two years ago, while playing a pivotal role in telling the story of one of his hometown’s biggest and most impactful rap ensembles: the Wu-Tang Clan.
“I had to be on set four, five in the morning because I had crazy tattoos and shit, they had to wear makeup,” he explains. “So my two years doing this was rocky because I never wanted to stop rapping. And that…when you really lock yourself into an acting role, that’s your life at that It’s all you can really do I haven’t really had a chance to have fun with my kids, every time I came home it was to shower and get out of the.
“It made me want to rap even more because I was like, ‘Damn, I’m not really recording like I usually record. So it just kept a fire burning in me for music. I love music first and foremost. I feel like acting is fair and an extension of me with the music. It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do and the music put me in the position, just do it.”
And of course, one of the benefits of being on television screens in different households is that it broadens an artist’s reach and allows them to gain new fans. It’s something that surprised East, but also humbled him.
“I gained a lot of new fans thanks to that. [Wu-Tang: An American Saga] it probably wouldn’t verify my music based on that show or find out who I was on that show,” he states. This, that and the third one, so I feel like it opened up a whole new door for me. I was telling someone the other day, I get pulled over by older white ladies, older Asian ladies.
“People who’ve never stopped me before are, ‘Oh, you Method Man, Wu-Tang.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, it’s fire.’ So just a whole different demographic of people listened to me and I just think it was great for my own brand to show that I do more than just rap I can also perform I can just dip and dip in different shits.
Dave East’s portrayal of Method Man also forced East to tap into the trauma he went through with the loss of some of his close friends as well as his best friend, Shooter. In one particular scene, East says he used an acting coach, who told him to channel those specific tragedy-centric emotions.
“In the first season, there was this scene where someone who was very close to Meth growing up, the police suffocated him and killed him,” East revealed. “And the camera was basically showing Meth. I was the fire escape. That’s when I had the crutches and stuff. I had to run to the fire escape, and I yell at the cop, ‘Let my man go.’ And the cop kills him So basically I had to show the emotion on my face watching my best friend die And it was hard but what helped me was I actually very, very close friends who weren’t killed by the police, but they were killed on the streets and stuff like that.”
He adds, “When that scene happens, it made me say their names and stuff like that. And that helped me. It definitely took me into a space where maybe I wasn’t so interested. than that… I might not have been so emotionally in it because he was playing. That’s the hardest part of the game, really selling the emotion of real life shit.
Dave East is also in his entrepreneurial bag. He recently opened a former bodega-turned-one-stop shop located in Harlem. The store offers health products, clothing, artwork from local artists, and anything East is interested in. It is also looking to branch out and open up different locations in an effort to allow the community to have a place to identify with that meets their needs. wants and needs – an idea he says he took from Nipsey Hussle, who launched his Marathon Clothing store in 2017 before he passed away in 2019.
Watch Dave East talk with XXL on his latest project, how did i get herehis acting role in Wu-Tang: an American sagalaunching a showcase in his hometown and more.
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