Even at first listen, it’s obvious that New York rapper Dave East’s latest mixtape Paranoia 2 is worthy of the title it was given. It’s very much like you’re sitting in Dave East’s frantic mind and fading through his memories like a photo album. These memories work you through the “whys” of his apparent paranoia’s existence. His lyrics paint pictures that are almost photo-realistic and let you as a listener choose if this paranoia has a reason to exist in Dave’s head. Throughout the tape, he juggles the two mindsets of being haunted by different aspects of his rough past growing up in Harlem and the culture-shock of gaining immense popularity and fame through his rap career.
Dave East is an excellent storyteller, and that talent shines throughout his raw lyrical content in must-listen tracks like “I Found Keisha” and “Corey.” He transforms his pain into hard lyrics that are juxtaposed by the song’s jazzy, orchestral beats. East puts you knee-deep into the story of his life no matter how heartbreakingly candid. “I Found Keisha” is the most unfiltered of the bunch, detailing a friend’s deadly revenge after East had gotten robbed.
“I told James “Cuz you know what to do if you catch her
Might’ve took a loss, will I lose? Never, that’s fool’s treasure
We gon do this right, we ain’t the type that’s too extra…” – “I Found Keisha”
If you’re not one to consistently handle this type of raw subject matter, Paranoia 2 might seem like a hard pill to swallow. There are tracks in the project that are a bit overbearing and over the top, like the song “Violent.” The song does contain the most lyrically-skilled feature out of the bunch from Queens-bred rapper and G-Unit staple Lloyd Banks.
“Skipping through hundreds, check out my handle
Get in the way of all these squares, shipped circles burning in your flannel
Chronic zip tucked into my chucka, duckin the Van crew
Visualize a life on the podium, need the Lamb’ blue.” – Lloyd Banks (“Violent”)
On the track, both artists aren’t afraid to let the listener know about the violent and ugly nature of their respective neighborhoods. But, if you’re often turned off by suggestive and violent subject matter, then Dave East might not be the right artist for you to dive into. Try Chance the Rapper, then come back to me.
But, Paranoia 2 has a nice balance between the serious and the light-hearted. Various features on the album, like Tory Lanez in the money-chasing anthem “Woke Up,” smooth some of the songs out and make them bouncy enough to slide into any club DJs’ track listing or even your morning commute playlist.
Dave rarely gets emotional, but when he tries to head into that territory he usually appears more detached then not like on the T.I. assisted track “Annoying.”
“Sorry boo, can’t give you all of me
Pardon me, you just want me cause I’m hot
When I was dead broke couldn’t get you to stop
Now that I’m on you turned to a thot, why?” – “Annoying”
He deals more with the facts than emotions on the project and rarely tells the listener about his own personal connections.
A major low point of Paranoia 2 is the hater-anthem “Thank You.” East dives into this barely digestible rap-singing voice that seems very squeaky and forced. It’s very Yatchy or Uzi-esque, and East is far beyond the realms of those individuals skill-wise. It sounds so out of the ordinary in comparison to the rest of the album, that it sounds like a different person entirely. I even had to check on the track in Spotify and make sure that there wasn’t a secret feature I didn’t know about. Thankfully, this rap style stays put on “Thank You.”
With him saturating the music industry between over the past six months (Karma, Paranoia: A True Story, Paranoia 2) Dave East has shown through his artistry and story-telling capabilities that he’s an artist that deserves far more eyes and ears. Paranoia 2 surely deserves more than one listen, as new details become more apparent as you take the music in. Hopefully, we’ll get to see some visuals from this project soon, because his words paint a picture that’ll surely make for some eye-catching imagery.
He has a story that begs to be listened to, and I’ll be sitting here until his next project so I can see how Dave East consumes the world. His perspective on life is definitely one that I want to keep seeing. -Nia Simone