David Lawrence Brewster Jr. (born June 3, 1988), better known by his stage name Dave East, is an American rapper and actor from Harlem, New York. East started rapping in 2010 and sold drugs throughout Harlem to support himself and his music, releasing over six mixtapes. He gained attention in 2014 from his eighth mixtape, Black Rose. Its release garnered the attention of Nas, who later signed East to his record label, Mass Appeal Records, and later in conjunction with Def Jam Recordings.
In January 2012, it was announced Taylor would be granted her release from the contract with Interscope and Star Trak. Taylor stated that she and Star Trak founder Pharrell Williams, have remained amicable since the end of their business relationship. She has credited him as a “big brother” and sees her early signing to Star Trak as a “blessing.” Taylor has stated on many occasions that her release from the label was necessary because she wanted to have a level of independence in the music industry. In an interview with DJ Skee, Taylor mentioned that “when [she] was signed for six years, [she] felt like she couldn’t do [anything],” and that she “couldn’t prove to [her] fans that [she] had the talent” and “couldn’t sing from [her] heart.”
As an independent artist at the time of her release, she had begun preparing her second release, a mixtape titled The Misunderstanding of Teyana Taylor. The mixtape drew influences from 1990s R&B legends like Lauryn Hill and Mary J. Blige. The tape was released in the first half of 2012, and was preceded by the release of “Make Your Move” (feat. Wale) and “D.U.I.” (feat. Jadakiss & Fabolous), which was released on February 25, 2012. More positive reviews of the latter track note that “The Harlem songstress channels Janet Jackson as she glides over the smooth Hit-Boy-produced beat with her airy vocals, while fellow New Yorkers Fabolous and Jadakiss ride shotgun”.
After some time as an independent artist and taking time to find herself as an artist, Taylor signed a joint-venture deal with Kanye West’s label GOOD Music and The Island Def Jam Music Group, on June 14, 2012. As part of GOOD Music, Taylor appears on the GOOD Music compilation album Cruel Summer, released September 18, 2012. She provides vocals for the opening track “To the World”, with Kanye West and R. Kelly, provides the hook and chorus for “Sin City”, which also features John Legend, Cyhi the Prynce, Malik Yusef and Travis Scott, and also duets with John Legend on a song titled “Bliss”. Taylor and Legend’s duet on the album was highly praised, Erika Ramirez of Billboard.com notes that “Teyana Taylor’s beautifully brash voice … illuminates in the electric-guitar heavy, Hudson Mohawke-produced ‘Bliss’.”
In addition to being featured on the GOOD Music compilation Cruel Summer, Taylor soon began the process of recording her major-label debut album, to be released eventually through GOOD Music and The Island Def Jam Music Group. On July 27, 2014, via Twitter, Taylor announced the title of her debut studio album to be VII and revealed it would be released on November 4, through Def Jam and GOOD Music. The album debuted at number 19 on the Billboard 200, selling 16,000 copies in the United States in its first week. In its second week, the album dropped to number 78 on the chart, selling 5,000 copies. In its third, the album dropped to number 160 on the chart, selling 3,000 copies, bringing its total album sales to 24,000 copies at that time.
Taylor was set to be a judge on the eighth season of the American competitive dance reality television series, America’s Best Dance Crew, which aired its first episode on July 29, 2015 on MTV. On August 25, Taylor released her first extended play (EP), titled The Cassette Tape 1994. The EP pays tribute to the iconic 90s sound and includes many samples from 90s hits.
On June 17, 2016, Taylor released her single “Freak On”, featuring guest vocals from Chris Brown and production by DJ Mustard. It samples “Freak Like Me” by Adina Howard. Taylor announced that it will be the lead single from her upcoming second studio album. On August 28, 2016, at the MTV Video Music Awards, Kanye West released the world premiere of the music video for his single, “FADE”, which features Taylor performing a dance routine, in a likeness to the 1983 film Flashdance. The video, directed by Eli Russell Linnetz, features Taylor dancing throughout a gymnasium and there is also an appearance by her husband, Iman Shumpert.
In 2010, he released his first mixtape Change of Plans which gained him a little recognition. He later released the mixtapes Insomnia, American Greed, Don’t Sleep and No Regrets, solidifying his commitment to music. In 2013, East periodically sold drugs throughout Harlem to support himself and his music. He then released his sixth mixtape Gemini.
In 2014, his music reached the ears of rapper, Nas who quickly looked for ways to contact East. Unbeknownst to Nas, East was close friends with Nas’ younger brother and fellow rapper Jungle, who quickly introduced the two. By the summer of 2014, East was the newest signee of Nas’ new Mass Appeal Records along with Bishop Nehru, Fashawn, Boldy James and Run The Jewels. In July 2014, he released his seventh mixtape Black Rose through the label, which received favorable reviews from music critics. In 2015, he released his eighth mixtape Hate Me Now which gained great recognition which allowed him to gain key features from well respected emcees such as, Pusha T, Nas, and two-thirds of The Lox, Jadakiss and Styles P.
In June 2016, XXL magazine revealed their annual Freshman Class for 2016, which included East, along with G Herbo, 21 Savage, Kodak Black, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty, Desiigner, Lil Dicky, Denzel Curry,and Anderson Paak. On July 7, 2016, East participated in the freshmen cypher along with Chicago’s G Herbo hosted by Philadelphia’s very own, DJ Drama. In August 2016, he released a joint extended play titled Born Broke, Die Rich with rapper Kur. In September 2016, East was featured on the BET Hip Hop Awards cypher alongside Young M.A., Ms. Jade, Kur and Sam Black. On September 29, 2016, he announced that he has signed a deal with Def Jam Recordings with the deal negotiated by Hip-hop executive Steven “Steve-O” Carless and the next day released the mixtape, Kairi Chanel, which peaked at number 38 on the US Billboard 200. Kairi Chanel featured a few notable names such as, Fabolous, The Game, The Diplomats; Cam’ron, Beanie Sigel, and 2 Chainz.
2017–2018: Acting debut and Paranoia 2
In January 2017, East made his acting debut, starring in BET’s Being Mary Jane series. He later appeared in Puma’s Tsugi Shinsei commercial and starred in rapper, Trina’s “It Ain’t Me” music video. In August 2017, East released his first studio Album, Paranoia: A True Story EP, supported by a few tracks such as “Perfect” featuring American Singer, Chris Brown, “Paranoia” along with Jeezy, and “Phone Jumpin” with Wiz Khalifa. The EP has peaked at number nine on the Billboard 200. Later in the year East released his 11th mixtape, Karma which was hosted by DJ Holiday. This was the beginning of the Karma series. This tape featured tracks such as “Militant” with Bronx rapper, Don Q. Chris Brown also reappeared on “Bentley Truck” track which was also featured on the Karma tape. In September 2017, East hosted the first annual Goldie Awards, a DJ and producer battle set taking place in New York City.
East started the new year by dropping his 12th mixtape Paranoia 2. On January 15, 2018. In February 2018 is when the rapper started to network and reach endorsements that would later further his career. In February, East signed a sponsorship with Belaire Rose. The signing of this deal led up to a promotional music video for the brand. The track is titled, “Fresh Prince of Belaire” by Rick Ross which featured East. March 2018, East signed an endorsement deal with New Era Cap launching his new “lifestyle” 59fifty fitted collection. Shortly after his newly found endorsement, East was featured in New Era’s “Claim the Crown” commercial along with some of the top MLB stars such as, Javier Baez, Jose Altuve, and award-winning producer, Mike WiLL Made-It. As things continued to look up for East, he released his 13th mixtape on July 27, 2018 which was titled Karma 2. This mixtape featured up-and-coming artists such as Lil Durk, Gunna and BlocBoy JB. He also had features from his two lifetime friends Kiing Shooter and Border Buck. Although this tape did not reach the same success has his first studio album, it still peaked at #41 on the Billboard 200. East is known for putting out music more frequently than other artists. In the same calendar year, Dave released his 15 mixtape which he joined his favorite MC, Styles P. The tape really exposed, and expressed the gritty street life of New York City.