If you were one of the lucky few who scored tickets to the sold-out 2017 fall concert featuring Post Malone, chances are, you’re going so you can hear “rockstar” live — but do you know who the opener, Dave East, is?
Even if you haven’t heard of David Brewster, Jr., better known by his stage name Dave East, you might have heard him rap before; East has been featured on tracks by A$AP Ferg, Trey Songz, Nas, Meek Mill and Mac Miller. Dave East’s most notable appearance is on “Wrote My Way Out,” a track from “The Hamilton Mixtape,” based on the award-winning Broadway musical. “Hamilton” became quintessential in the musical theatre world in 2016, gaining popularity after integrating rap music, U.S. history and Broadway. The track is about an uphill battle to success, with East’s verse touching on his struggle to get where he is today. In his words — “Bumble Bee Tuna, now we could get steak.”
The 29-year-old rapper from East Harlem was signed by Mass Appeal Records in 2014, before moving to Def Jam Recordings in 2016. In 2016, East was featured on XXL magazine’s famous “Freshman Class,” alongside rising stars like Anderson .Paak, 21 Savage, Kodak Black and Lil Yachty, just to name a few.
His latest release, and his first extended play with Def Jam, is titled “Paranoia: A True Story.” East’s roots are evident in his music, as he tells stories of growing up and out of Harlem, and navigating fame and money now. From his music to his personal brand, East’s appreciation of his roots is evident. His stage name, East, is an homage to East Harlem, and his rhyme scheme is based on the music he grew up with.
Standing at 6 feet 6 inches, East might look more like a basketball player than a rapper — and if you think so, you’d be right. In high school, East played in the Amateur Athletic Union alongside current NBA players Ty Lawson, Michael Beasley and Kevin Durant. In college, he played for two years in the Atlantic 10 Conference for the University of Richmond. For his junior year, East transferred to Towson University in Maryland, where he played until he dropped out, leaving behind the prospect of playing in the NBA to pursue rap.
In Def Jam’s series introducing their artists to listeners, “I Am Def Jam,” Dave East gives a short taste of his life leading up to his music career — including the role of basketball in his life.
“Basketball was my driving force for everything — I gave basketball, like, 15 years,” he said. “I scored 1,000 points in high school. I was able to get two Division 1 scholarships for college because I was playing ball. I was damned for a minute because ball was all I knew, but I was able to take that same determination, that same thing I wanted, the NBA, and put it into music.”
With 1.3 million followers — and counting — on Instagram, a friend group overflowing with notoriety and the drive only an NBA prospect could have on his side, Dave East might just be the next big thing.
To brush up on your Dave East knowledge for the concert on Thursday, check out our playlist here and online on our Spotify account, @bupipedream.
“Phone Jumpin (feat. Wiz Khalifa)” — Dave East
“Perfect (feat. Chris Brown)” — Dave East
“Maneuver (feat. French Montana)” — Dave East
“Wrote My Way Out” — Nas, Dave East, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Aloe Blacc
“Slow Down (feat. Jazzy Amra)” — Dave East
“Keisha” — Dave East
“Stove Top” — Dave East
“Kd” — Dave East
“East Coast REMIX (feat. Busta Rhymes, A$AP Rocky, Dave East, Snoop Dogg, French Montana and Rick Ross)” — A$AP Ferg
“Streets Ain’t the Same” — Dave East