Fresh off the heels of the release of his Paranoia EP, Dave East delivered his introspective rhymes before a packed New York City crowd on at Gramercy Theater on Monday night.
The intimate concert was transformed into a NYC mecca with fans sporting personalized Yankee jerseys as the sounds of Wu-Tang Clan blasted overhead. Bridging the gap between the boom-bap raps of the latter and today, the show managed to sell out in under 20 minutes and rightfully so: Paranoia finds East staying true to his seedy street-hop nature, that both hip-hop purists and others alike can enjoy.
Taking the stage of the renowned venue at 10:30, the Harlem rapper was greeted with clouds of smoke as fans hurried to capture a photo of his 6-feet-5-inches frame. Sporting his signature athleisure wear complete with diamond encrusted chains, East kicked off his set with the new album’s title track, “Paranoia.”
With dozens of eyes fixated on his towering stature, you’d think the emcee would be less at ease. However, that was far from the case. Calling on his fans to recite the lines of the standout track “Never Hated,” featuring mentor Nas, the crowd was ignited with energy. In spite of the fanfare, East continued to riddle off bars as he stripped down to his bare chest and revealed his penchant for ink.
Taking a sip of champagne, the Harlem emcee followed up with a medley of hits including “Found A Way”, “Maneuver” and “Dirty Little Secret.” The latter being a particular favorite for the ladies in the crowd, who recited the cheeky lyrics word for word.
Slowing things down a bit, East took to the mic to get on a more personal accord. “I got a special guest tonight,” the rapper told a sea of fans as the spotlights were dialed down. “It’s my personal favorite feature on the tape.” Bringing out his daughter, Kairi Chanel, East shared a heartwarming embrace with his full-time muse on stage.
“I ain’t really a turn up nigga,” East continued. “I be rapping. I be going through real shit.”
While technical issues prevented East from finishing his set to the best of his ability, the rapper’s devotion to his fans was admirable. Illuminated by phone lights and backed by his entourage, East’s star power and love for the art of rap was clear.