Harlem rapper Dave East has been around for a minute, but absent the big-name co-signs or signature hits that drove some of his peers’ careers, mainstream success has eluded him. With that said, his latest project, the Harry Fraud-produced Hoffa, is a masterclass in ignoring mass appeal in favor of crafting high-quality work and staying true to yourself — the album Dave East always needed in his catalog. However, it turns out one of East’s peers had some advice for him to improve his chances to gain traction on future projects.
Speaking with Apple Music 1’s Ebro, East recalled how J. Cole helped him make some adjustments to improve his rap voice — a key component in any rap artist’s success. “I got a chance to lock in with J. Cole, just me and him in the studio with the engineer, and he asked that same question, like, ‘Bro, I’m a fan of what you do, I really respect your pen, but you rap with one tone,'” he recounted. “And I really sat and listened to myself, and a lot of my sh*t is one tone.”
The rest of the session, he said, consisted of “me and him in the studio testing tones. He’s just really seeing how high I can take my voice, how low I can take it, and then he just was like, ‘Apply that to your music. Watch the difference. That’s just something I gotta keep working at, keep working at. I think it will be something dope to add to my music.” Listening to Hoffa, it’s clear the advice paid off, as Dave sounds more energized than ever, partly as a result of Harry Fraud’s complementary beat choices but also because his inflections bring a new-found dimension to his delivery, highlighting the emotional stakes of his rhymes.
Watch Dave East and Harry Fraud’s interview with Ebro below.