Dave East – “Survival” Album Review

Story posted November 18, 2019 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Naseem Johnson

Up-and-coming rapper from East Harlem, New York,  Dave East may have dropped the best album of his music career. His latest release, “Survival,” has a majority of the hip-hop community nodding their heads, including celebrities like LeBron James and Ebro Darden.

The Harlem rapper has been around since 2014, but he didn’t gain much attention until 2016 after releasing the single “Keisha.” Throughout the song, East uses very descriptive lyrics for  the sequence of events and conversations that took place between himself and an unpleasant person named Keisha. East has never switched up his style, though. He is very generic when he raps, but his flow and storytelling abilities are phenomenal, much like the famous ‘90s rapper Nas. East brings the same energy for “Survival.”

Made up of 20 songs totaling a time of an hour and 18 minutes, “Survival” was launched on all streaming platforms. While nearly every song on the album is fantastic, there are a few songs that especially stand out (and a few others that don’t).

Some of the best songs on the album are ”Baby,”  “They Wanna Kill You,” “Me & Mines” and “Daddy Knows. “Baby” is especially notable, as the song starts off soft with an R&B sample of Marvin Gaye’s “Just to Keep You Satisfied” before immediately switching into fast tempo beat with East’s perfect flow on top.

“They Wanna Kill You” is another standout. The intro of the song starts off with an old school vibe, including turntable scratches within the track. East raps about his past through much of the song, and he does it in style and in rhythm.

“Me & Mines” has a twist in the beginning with the beat, but what really catches listeners’ attention is East’s lyrics and flow. He focuses on his past with this song, rapping about how he and his friends used to maneuver through the streets. East’s delivery throughout is just so aggressive that is meshes perfectly with the subject matter.

For ”Daddy Knows,” East lets his daughter doing the talking, as she screams,”I love you” to him on the track. The lyrics focus on his daughter and how she is the only thing that he cares about.

However, not everything on “Survival” is a highlight. “On Sight” with Ty Dolla $ign is one of the low points in the album, as it gives a 2016 vibe. “On Sight” looks backward instead of  instead of matching the quality of East’s current output.

Dave East is a promising rapper, but he is just a little bit inconsistent with his work. He hasn't dropped bangers that can be played on the radio, and he’s only dropped EPs and singles so far. But, with an album like “Survival” under his belt, East has found his wakeup call for trending in a positive direction with his music in the future.

Rating: 8/10

Reviewer’s Favorite Song: “Baby” and “Me & Mines”

Reviewer’ Least Favorite Song: “OG” and “Devil Eyes”


Naseem Johnson is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email nvj5110@psu.edu.