Harlem rapper Dave East has reached the point where he’s releasing merch, which is a logical step for an artist with his level of growing fanbase. What doesn’t make sense is the means by which he’s alleged to have gotten the design for a shirt he’s selling. St. Louis-based visual artist Rell Brodie took to Twitter yesterday and announced that East stole the design from a painting he did of the rapper and didn’t credit him.
What’s worse is instead of clearing up the mishap, East apparently blocked the artist and his supporters on Twitter. Rell tweeted footage of Dave East pointing out the artwork at a recent show and calling it “fire.” He also posted a picture of Rell holding the piece. Rell, who often creates pieces depicting celebrities and presents it to them, says he gave East all of his contact info. But soon after, without Rell’s knowledge, his image of East was re-purposed with a slightly different backdrop.
After tweeting about the incident, Rell says he was blocked by East, who appears to have claimed that he has nothing to do with his merch designs in since-deleted tweets. Even if he’s not a part of the design process, it would seem that as an artist he’d know giving another artist credit (and compensation) for their work was imperative and try to rectify the situation. As of now though, that’s not the case. Rell tweeted last night that he’s “moving on,” and he’s learned his lesson to “tighten up” his business. This instance is confirmation that it’s not just producers who have to deal with rappers stealing their work.
UPDATE: Rell tweets that he has spoken to Dave East and the situation is “being handled.”