If you didn’t already know it Dave East is a versatile dude. Besides holding down a rap career for 15 years+ as of 2024, he can also be found portraying Method Man in Wu-Tang: An American Saga, which aired its third and final season on Hulu last year. His filmography beyond that isn’t super deep but based on the success of the show I’d expect a lot more roles to be coming his way. Here’s an interesting coincidence too — both Dave East and Method Man are former Def Jam Recordings artists. “Fortune Favors the Bold” was his swan song, with “Apt 6E” is available via his own imprint FTD Records.

East has been regarded as a no-nonsense NYC storytelling rapper for his entire career and this album doesn’t deviate from that formula. The new element here is having Mike & Keys (f/k/a The Futuristiks) produce the entire album. That results in a soulful layered single like “God Produced It” with a mix of bass, piano, harmonies, and pleasantly crisp percussive drums. It’s seriously underrated to hear the kick of a drum and the tap of a rim shot, so when you can notice it on a song, it means something. The same can be said for Dave’s lyrics. He’s getting incredibly personal about his life and career.

“Escobar changed my life, believed his name was Nas
Really went through beef, it wasn’t burgers, never came with fries
21st Street we walked it, that slick shit we talked it back and forth
2110, up in my own apartment, now Dapper Dan might make the garments”

East’s vocal tone tickles my ear canal too. If I had to put in layman’s terms, he sounds like the kind of dude you want to kick it with while drinking a beer and smoking a blunt. He’s not putting on airs like he’s some kind of super thug, but he’s also not a sucker or a simp. The voice tells you he’s lived a lot of life in his 36 years on Earth, which combined with a certain physical resemblance was what made him an ideal choice to portray Clifford Smith. “Dangerous Riddim” featuring Shaggy embodies these qualities. The Jamaican influence on New York rap has been there since Clive Campbell moved to New York at the age of 12, but East doesn’t affect an accent the way so many rappers do when they try to incorporate that feeling into their songs.

I think the thing that surprised me the most was the potential of songs like “So Much Changed” featuring singer Stacy Barthe to break out. Dave has always been “a rapper’s rapper” kind of guy but with a little light editing for a curse word here and there this one has instant FM radio appeal. “Still on the scene cause I love the green/Until they kill me, I’ll be living this life, I know you feel me.” It feels like he’s channeling the spirit of the late Tupac Shakur on this one, and when Kurupt made an uncredited cameo on the track that feeling intensified.

The good news is that he DOES get credited for his appearance on “This Lifestyle,” another solid track from “Apt 6E.” Actually thanks to Dave’s blunt honesty, strong delivery, and the Mike & Keys production, the whole damn album is solid. When Dave says “the worst thing you can ever waste is time” on “Out the Way,” I’m feeling that shit. He’s been around the rap game too long to give up a single second at this point. He’s gonna be good either way with his acting career taking off, but it’s nice to see that rapping didn’t take a backseat in the process. He’s not wasting your time here.

Dave East x Mike & Keys :: Apt 6E
7.5Overall Score