Tag Archives: hip

New New York 15: Harlem NYC Style: Dave East

dave intro

Name: Dave East

Stomping Grounds: Spanish Harlem

Breakout Year: 2014

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From the Eastside of the New York City fashion mecca, hails one of the more promising prospects from the 5 Burroghs. I was hearing the name “Dave East” for a minute, via blog sites (shout out to 2dopeboyz, catching everything OD early) and word of mouth. But in most cases, unless I trust the opinion of the source, I usually brush it off after years of being recommended and then disappointed. I admittingly did this with Dave East, and it wasn’t untill I saw Nas put him down with his Mass Appeal roster, that I was like “Hold up, if the GOAT co-signs….”

Dave Nas

To get a sense of where his pen was at, I immediatley went to his freestyles and heard him finessing the shit out of classics like NasLast Words” and Beanie Mack’sOnce again its on“.

A marksman with my target, I shoot awkward,

Shawn Marion, Bill Cartwright, by the park light,

It’s 33 for a gram, the shit slow,

Balmain denim lookin’ like I’m sellin’ dope

– “Once again it’s on” freestyle

Once I realized how sharp the sword was, I wanted to see what kind of artist he was. We all know there’s plenty of dudes, from our city particualrly, who can spit really well but can’t put together actual songs. I did my datpiffs and saw his most promising project was “Black Rose” mixtape, with no expectation at all, I sparked some potent product & took some time to see what these mean-internet streets were talking about. The standout factor of the tape & East as an artist, is that it’s well-balanced and diverse in sound. He could go with a banger like the RicoBeats produced “Red Bottoms” , which is more in the trap lane, and it sounds natural. On the other hand, he could spit over a drum-knocking New York record like “Fuck you think” and come with the vintage shit. My personal favorites were “Around here” and “The Town“, where the he takes you on a verbal tour through the not-so-gentrified & still grimey side of Harlem. He could talk the name-brand braggadocio, true to his Harlem roots, he can speak the word of the corner-bodega hustler or he could just let the bars fly to let you know where his minds at.

“Speak my pain
He got game, I feel like Jesus
Just couldn’t relate, ain’t never listened to Yeezus (never)
Still got connects with dope, Sour in the freezer
FoodSaver sealers and some scissors, thank you Jesus
I ain’t meet her once, tatted my name right on her cleavage
Kush got me talkin’ to nutso, like “are we even?”…”- “The Offering”

dave mixtape

Dave East hails very little comparison to anyone I’ve heard. The Spanish Harlem emcee seems more like an effortless fusion of the New York legends blended with today’s era in hip hop. He’s the artist whose got something for pretty much any fan of the culture, no matter what element of the game you fuck with. Get familiar with the name, the boy’s gonna be here for a while….

Dave final

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The New, New York ’15 (Part 1): Brooklyn-Queens-Expressway: Manolo Rose

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Name: Manolo Rose

Stomping Grounds: Far Rockaway, Queens/ Marcy (Brooklyn)

Breakout year: 2015

Still, in 2015, there is confusion regarding what exactly “New York hip hop” actually is. Most have pigeon-holed the sub-genre into boom-bap, or anyone who raps like Nas or someone from Wu-Tang. My sentiment to those who assume such, is the same as it was last year, everything evolves and there are still dope artists coming from our city that sound nothing like what we’ve heard before. Such is the case with Bed-Stuy-Far Rock fusion of Manolo Rose.

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Manolo Rose is in the vein of New York artists like Onyx, Busta Rhymes & DMX. He’s not going to blow you away lyrically, but he uses his energy as his trademark. He has a knack for making memorable hooks, which is noted on his own songs as well as his often show-snatching appearances on other people’s records. The backdrop which perfectly compliments his riot-inducing vocals is usually supplied by Fame-school Slim, one half of the Fame School, an up-and-coming architect on the boards.  When Manolo came with his break-out single “Run Ricky Run” it was the most unorthodox, unconventional banger I’ve heard since Black Rob’s “Whoa”. The beat didn’t actually drop until well into the song and it was confusing DJs all throughout the Tri-state, who were trying to figure out how to work the record in the club. The concept was derived from classic Hood flicks like John Singleton’s “Boyz n tha Hood”, “Menace To Society”. “Juice” and “Harlem Knights”. He cleverly used the movies to define life lessons such as “keeping the grass cut so you can see the snakes come” and to “Never let a nigga get away with nothing”. My mind had trouble adapting to the song at first, but I felt it, and I knew it was something ground-breaking.

manolo 1

With such an impact on a breakout single, it’s tough to say if we’ll ever see an artist again in the era of the one-hit-wonders, but he’s followed up strong. With records like “Fuck 12“, “Gun-Fu” and “Super-Flexin“, he continues to perpetuate the lane that he’s carving out for himself, the anthemic-through-the-roof energy New York city hip hop. He’s building both his brand and his buzz on songs with Harlem’s own Vado, Rowdy Rebel (Of GS9), Rico Love, and of course, the controversial collaboration on Troy Ave’s “All about the money”.

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As many have heard, the Troy Ave single was originally Manolo Rose’s “Dope man“, neither artist denies that fact. The concept, the hook and the production is all the same as the original, just with appearances from Troy Ave and BSB’s Young Lito. Though the transfer of the record was a bit jux-like, Manolo Rose kept it business and used it as an opportunity to market himself on a more established artist’s platform, even appearing in the video. He has since denounced any beef between him and Troy ave, charging it to the game, and enjoying the perks that came with the success of the record.

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Manolo Rose has grown out of the shadow of his mega-record “Run Ricky Run” and the controversy with Troy Ave, the Edgemere Projects native is also gaining notoriety outside of the hometown. He’s dropping his “Concrete Rose” EP today (June 2nd), set to have features from Vado, Chinx (Riot in Peace !), Dave East, and Cali’s own, Problem. He’s one of the artists that is both creative and daring enough to follow the beat of his own drum, without biting off of the biggest artists of the day or trying to sound like any of the City’s forefathers. It’s artists like Manolo Rose who push both the city and the culture forward, blurring the regional lines that dictate what a city should sound like. He’s just out here making music anyone, anywhere could wild-out too.

manolo show

Side-Bar: I gotta make it out to one of his shows on this “Concrete Rose” tour, anyone whose seen him perform his shit says he makes the records really come to life…

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Get Over It: The New, New York City (Part 2): No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn

TroyAve

Name: Troy Ave

Stomping Grounds: Crown Heights, Brooklyn

Breakout year: 2012

Standout Project: “New York City:The Album” (2013)

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“Rubber grip or the plastic feel
This that Brooklyn shit, this is nothing new
This that safety off with that engine on
Mercedes Benz, good watch, scene above them all
How he got money when he ain’t have a job in so long?
This that hustler shit, that independent grind
That nautical sweat suit and white ones gold shine” (Troy Ave – “Classic Feel”)

Troy Ave got his name courtesy of the street in Crown Heights, Troy Avenue. Most recently you may have heard the Brooknam native on the hook of Vado’s “R.N.S.” off his latest installment of the Slime Flu mixtapes, or even on Fabolous’ “Only life I know” from the “Soul Tape II”. Troy Ave is known for chronicling his tales of a hustler, the only way a Brooklyn spitter could do, but he may also harmonize a little on his hooks. However, he’s not harmonizing in a “Marvin’s Room” type of way (Shout out to Drake though), he’s harmonizing in a 50 cent, early 2000’s mixtape type of way. In the mixtape circuit, he’s most known for his “Bricks In My Backpack” trilogy. The 3 mixtapes, showcased his potential more than anything else. The first two seemed like an artist who was just trying to find himself, and his lane. He caught some flack for the title of the second installment of “Bricks In My Backpack”, entitled “Powder to the people”. Certain figures in New York radio felt he was taking an empowering slogan “Power to the people”, and then turning it around to what destroyed so many communities. But what else do you expect from a young hustler from Brooklyn who dubbed himself “Harry  Powder”?.  It’s tough trying to be a successful rapper who attacks the game from the angle of being a hustler, because the image has been portrayed so much and you have to be innovative or just get wrote off as another “over-the-top street rapper”. But that’s what the man came from, and by the time the third installment of the series came about, the crown heights representative seemed to find his groove. Mid-Way through 2012, “Bricks In My Backpack 3: The Harry Powder Trilogy” found its way on to Complex’s “50 greatest albums of 2012 (so far)”, landing at number 40.

troy-ave

Troy Ave Embodies the fly guy, 1980’s New York Hustler in his rhymes. The Alpos’, the Rich Porters’, The Fat Cats’ , with the jewels and the slick talk. You can tell that from the cover of his studio album debut “New York City: The Album”. He’s sporting the Jesus Piece, with a couple other chains I couldn’t afford, in front of a black Jeep Wrangler, giving off a “New Jack City” feel. On the cover, and almost everywhere you see Troy Ave, he’s endorsing Adidas in Run DMC fashion, with his soccer jerseys, T-Shirts and shell toes. Along with just speaking of being a hustler, he hustles in the industry as well. Troy Ave is on his independent grind, on his label “BSB Records”, and is building a brand of his own. He’s one of the only, who still gives a feeling of authenticity in his music. Anything he talks about having, and the lifestyle he talks about living, are both documented on his Instagram, to prove he’s not just rapping. Aside from separating himself from the fakes, he’s also stated his opposition towards today’s “weirdo” rappers (directly targeting Kanye West & Kendrick Lamar) and claims that the hip hop audience and artists alike, now-a-day’s glorifies the user, more than they celebrate the dealer, and even targets his fellow Brooklnites, The Flatbush Zombies as “weirdos” making music for drug abusers (Spread love, it’s the Brooklyn Way). He’s made it clear that his music is not for the wrist twisting that you could spot at the drop of any Young Chop or Mike Will Made it joint, and he’s not going to Future for the hottest hooks, not out of spite, but because he’s keeping it all the way New York, making a lane for his own city without eating off anyone else’s plate.

troy-ave-hot-box-freestyle(Troy Ave rocking the signature Soccer jersey)

His style really represents a New, New York sound, far from any type of “backpack” rap, though he does seem to get support from that crowd, as well. Troy Ave’s voice sounds like he’s always joking about something, but he’s doing anything but that. He has evolved from the less narrative, more simplistic punchlines of the “Bricks In My Backpack” series, to a full blown story teller from a past decorated in all the elements of the street life. He’s able to show his depth on tracks like “Regretful”, which may give you another look at the Brooklyn rapper, from the standpoint of emotional pain, without being sappy. He’s also capable of making records like “Hot Out”, to drop the windows or put the top back too during the New York City summers (Please come back). Just as diverse as his music, are the artist’s he’s jumped on tracks with. He’s collaborated with everyone from Pusha T, To 2 Chainz, to Nore. He get’s widespread respect from his piers of the current generation and before his time. He’s got mainstream appeal, with a smooth talking, New York City hustler feel, he’s definitely someone to look out for.

images (1)(Run DMC reminiscent)

Honorable Mention (From Brooklyn): Uncle Murda (or UM)

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Everything comes full circle, fif.

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From 2002 to 2005, there was nothing bigger in hip hop than 50 cent. He had just knocked Ja Rule out of his spot at the top of the charts, kicked his shoes off, and made that his new home. 50 and G-Unit were scorching, even before his record-breaking solo debut “Get Rich or Die Tryin'”. It was almost as if fif, Banks, and Yayo couldn’t release garbage, even if they tried. They were revolutionizing mixtapes, using it almost as a marketing plan and a build up for official studio albums. There’s no argument that they have a huge hand in why mixtapes play such a pivotal role for an artist in today’s game. Shady/Interscope was already a powerhouse in itself, with Eminem and Dr.Dre, Fifty and friends were just building a new empire on top of an empire. For that span of 2002 through 2005, everything G-Unit released (“Beg For Mercy”- G-Unit, “Hunger For More” – Lloyd Banks, “Welcome to Cashville”- Young Buck, “The Documentary”- The Game, “Thoughts of a Predicate Felon”- Tony Yayo, “The Massacre” – 50 Cent) was either certified gold, platinum or in the case of 50’s debut, diamond status (10 million plus, worldwide). Not taking away from the quality music that the group was putting out, but a huge piece of their success was from controversy as well.

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G-Unit, mainly 50 cent, had issues with pretty much everyone at the height of their success. 50 had wiped Ja Rule clean off the face of hip hop, and continued documenting beefs with The Lox, Fat Joe, and Nas. These “beefs”, were just a money move for fif and it kept business booming. Though it didn’t dent any of his opponents careers too heavily (the way it did for murder inc.), it did disrupt any type of New York unity, maybe planting a seed for the sharp fall off on our branch of hip hop. However, piece by piece, the empire began falling apart. First, it was the Game. The Game wanted to collaborate with Nas and Jadakiss, who he grew up on ,and fifty took it personally as if it was a matter of disloyalty. The Game eventually started a G-Unot campaign, which whether people want to believe it or not, put a real scar on the G-Unit brand. It magnified the whole myth of 50 cent being a snitch, and took a lot of credibility from him, specifically on a street level. Next it was Young Buck. Apparently Buck was growing frustrated with his situation with the Unit, and started acting out publicly about it. This eventually led to him getting the boot, and 50 cent releasing a message recorded in his inbox from Buck crying about being given another chance. With Game and Buck out of the picture, it was crazy, but it was a business based relationship between 50 and them, not like the relationship Curtis had with Banks and Yayo. Banks, Yayo and Fifty were the original G-Unit, all Queens bred. But even those relationships eventually saw their demise. Banks and Fifty often danced around the topic of a falling out, but even Stevie Wonder could sense tension there. You never saw them together anymore, even in Bank’s brighter moments with “Beamer, Benz or Bentley”, and his consistent mixtape releases, 50 was no where to be found. 50 eventually grazed the situation, subtly remarking that Bank’s work ethic was not up to par with his own. Bank’s side of the argument was that his father had just passed, he needed some time to recover and fif was kind of callus and insensitive towards it. That only left Yayo. It was all good until yesterday, at least to the outsider. Though 50 declared the G-Unit brand to be a thing of the past, we still assumed there were still relationships considering it was more than music among the original 3. Just yesterday on Yayo’s Instagram, he posted, “50 ain’t rocking with me and Banks the same I layed my life down for the unit but you live and learn”. That you do. Though G-unit (as a collective) has been over on a level of relevance for years, it seems its over in every sense.

ca. 2006 --- 50 Cent --- Image by © Danielle Levitt/Corbis Outline

On top of the last link (Yayo), coming out about his detachment from the group, just today news broke of 50 leaving Shady/ Interscope, and taking the independent route. Mr. Curtis Jackson came to an agreement on an independent deal with Capital/UMG. The first thing that came to mind when I heard that, was a conversation 50 had with Styles P on the Angie Martinez show in 2007. After years of trading diss tracks, Angie Martinez played Mediator and got 50 on the phone with P. It was a civil conversation, but when Styles was arguing his decision of going independent, 50 mocked him about the independent money vs major label money, and specifically that Style’s label, “Koch”, was a graveyard for artists who were passed their prime. Ironic. Styles has seen more success and relevance on a music level with his independent grind since that point than fif, even with the machine backing that 50 had. Talk about a fall from grace, but its funny how history repeats itself (It’s murdaaaaaa). You can’t help but think how 50 displaced Ja from mainstream America, ruthless and relentlessly, and then see the same machine turn against him. That’s how the game goes. For the first time ever, 50 and Ja are at the same level of relevance. 50 cent’s gangsta persona has become discredited by the fact that he’s been out of that lifestyle for more than a decade and he struggles to reinvent himself. After 50’s attack on Rick Ross backfired, Ross dropped Teflon Don and became a megastar while fif just dropped, period. He hasn’t dropped an album since 2009, and nobody cares. 50 put so much time into destroying other people’s reputation, when he should have taken the time to re-evaluate his own craft, so eventually he self destructed, just as his last album title stated, “Before I self destruct”. More Irony. He’s now making records with Fat Joe, in the studio with Jadakiss and Style’s for his next album, and according to Cam, Fif is in business talks with the dipset cheif (who he had another feud with). Is it growth? or is it accepting the fact that you’re defeated?. Either or, the man is going to make his money, shit, he’s got enough endorsements that he never needs to write another lyric in his life, and it’s probably better off that way. Side Bar: At least “Get Rich or Die Tryin’, will always be considered a staple in hip hop history, some rappers have endured success but are followed by the black cloud of never dropping that one classic.

50 skinny

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