INTERVIEW: Dave East Talks 'Paranoia: A True Story,' Upcoming Album & More

By Isha Thorpe

August 29, 2017

Dave East shook hip hop when he released his much-anticipated EP, Paranoia: A True Story.  Fans of the Spanish Harlem-bred MC were feenin' for the project and ever since it dropped, East has been getting more love than ever before... which we didn't think was even possible. 

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Don’t get it twisted. From the first time we’ve heard East’s bars in previously released tracks that date back years ago, we’ve been obsessed with learning more about him, his music and his life. The realness that we heard from his voice when he was spitting immediately intrigued us, so much that we’ve consistently been on the lookout for whatever new tracks he has up his tatted sleeves.

From Hate Me Now, Kairi Chanel, to Paranoia; East’s bars always give us the feels. Another major reason why the rapper gets so much respect is because of his flow. In today’s hip hop scene, new rappers are more into mumble or trap rap. East personifies the origins of the music genre and has fire, structured verses that remind us of that good old 1990s swag. Also, along with this classic flow, many are even saying that East is not only the future of rap, but one of the main reasons that New York rap is back!

That brings us to Paranoia. This is East’s first Def Jam release, since he signed on to the major label back in 2016 (Kairi Chanel was dropped via Nas’ Mass Appeal Records). The 13-track project has some of the most hottest tracks you’ve heard in a while. Its guest features include Jeezy, Wiz Khalifa, Chris Brown, French Montana and Nas. There are even skits from upcoming singer Jazzy and East’s daughter, Kairi.

The rapper pulled up to iHeartRadio’s offices to speak to us about his new EP, his upcoming album, his daughter and more. Peep our interview with him below and buy Paranoia: A True Story here. 

What was the recording process for Paranoia like?

The process was a little different. It was the first project I recorded not in New York. I did like 90% of it in LA. My daughter was a little active, a lot more active than she was for the previous project, so that played a part. She was in the studio with me… But, really just knowing I could work with any producer or any other artist that I've really wanted to reach out to,  I could contact them. 

Were there any songs that were too difficult or too emotional to write?

Yeah, I got two… they ain't go on the tape. I'm gonna use them for something else. A record called 'Overdose' [about] my cousin, he OD'd on drugs. 'Want To Be Me' was tough and 'Have You Ever.' The last two records on the project [were] tough to write. But, I was in a good space. Even though it was kind of deep and it was me talking about pain I was in, mentally I was in a good space to talk about it.

How did you grow on this project from when you released Kairi Chanel?

I feel like I've grown a lot, just going through the different stages of how people change and different money coming in, and just me traveling more. Being a father, all that kind of changed me. I kind of matured over a year’s time. 

You said that this EP was an appetizer. So, what's not on this EP that you're saving for your album?

Not that I'm saving, but it's just like I haven't really tapped into that zone yet. The producers that I'm working with for the album, I want us to all get together and really lock in together. I still [am] getting beats emailed to me. For the album, I want it to be real, organically made. That's probably the only thing that's missing and a couple other people that I want to work with on the album.

"Kairi Speaks" is one of my favorite songs on your EP. Does Kairi like rap music?

She likes music. It could be the 'Doc McStuffins' theme song, 'Mickey Mouse Club,' [when] music come on, she starts moving. She likes music; I think it's just in her.

Do you think she could beat you in a rap battle one day?

Nah (Laughs). Uh uh…

Do you feel pressure because people expect such greatness from you?

Nope because I feel like the only pressure people should deal with is the pressure you put on yourself. I remember when ain't none of y'all [knew] me, or none of y'all even cared about what I was doing. So, it’s no pressure. I just feel like, 'Oh, you feelin' it now.' So, I just stay me and try to keep the same people around me that were with me... And they keep my mind at a certain pace.

What do you want your fans to learn about you when they hear Paranoia?

Take me out that New York box. I feel like I'm more of a national, globally known person now. I feel like I'm making more relatable music for the masses, you know what I mean, even though it [is] gonna always have a New York undertone. But, I don't think I should be in that box no more.

**WARNING: Explicit language**

Photos: Rachel Kaplan for iHeartRadio

Dave East

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