After being named a 2016 XXL Freshman, Dave East has used that recognition as momentum to keep striving and storytelling.
Before and after the release of East's latest mixtape, KairiChanel, he has supplied guest verses on tracks with artists from all across the board.
The East Harlem lyricist will be tearing up the Fifth Element Stage at Soundset on Sunday, so we've gathered up some of his best guest verses to get you prepared.
This first track is from Direct Deposit Volume Two, a compilation album of rap tracks from Def Jam signees. "Paper Chasin" features New York natives East and A$AP Ferg. The vibe of collecting and stacking money is enhanced by cash register sounds embedded in the beat. However, it's the blend of two strong, distinctive voices and the carefully crafted lines that make it so catchy.
In his verse, East raps, "All these diamonds, they look like a lake and I mix the Margiela with Bathing Ape." When the hook comes in, Ferg explains that they've earned everything they've got through hard work and no vacations. Ferg then feeds off East's earlier line by rapping, "Now my diamonds colder than Minnesota."
A successful song without a hook is not easy, but Don Q, G Herbo and East effortlessly hand off verses and lines in a relay fashion. East raps about the realness of getting caught up in drugs and shelving basketball dreams by spitting, "I was popping blue devils, Coach K ain't recruit me."
The simple, steady beat works as a slick backdrop to the overall tenacious tone. The trio prove their competitiveness in the streets has only made them stronger, and that they are keeping up that spirit to survive the rap game.
"Out of Center"
Recruiting East for "Out of Center" brought out a fresh side of Tory Lanez. Lanez trades his typical autotune-assisted, serenading style to create a classic rap heater with East.
"Out of Center" is backed with another smooth, no-frills beat by Triple A. East tells his critics they can chill, and that even though having a felony on his record won't let him cross the Canadian border, he still has a strong fanbase in Toronto.
Fellow Harlem rapper Juelz Santana rounded up East and the incarcerated Bobby Shmurda and Rowdy Rebel for "Time Ticking." There is no telling how and when the bars from Bobby and Rowdy were acquired, but what we do know is that this stunt track is a certified banger.
In East's verse, he asks that the locked-up GS9 members be freed and goes back to flaunting as he raps, "Dropped out of college, now I get the coupe drop." The high-energy track works as a great cardio tune, party jam, or could even be the perfect addition to a commuter's playlist.
"Body for My Zipcode"
This last track might be the hardest one to find. Although it features Young Life, Freddie Gibbs and East, it comes from DJ Drama's latest album, Quality Street Music 2. The trap-style beat in this one is easy to listen to, even though the homicide hubbub on the track isn't as pleasant to hear about.
You'll have to listen all the way through to hear East's verse, where he paints a lyrical picture of the violence he's witnessed in East Harlem. When East raps, "And I ain't talkin' Billboard but my youngin's makin' hits," it shows that the streets he grew up on and the industry he is in are two completely different worlds.
Dave East plays the Fifth Element stage at 3 p.m. on Sunday at Soundset. More info here.