First things first: Any millennial who feels they may have missed the golden era of hip-hop should follow Dave East's career, attend his shows, and not just listen to Kairi Chanel, but live with it, because we might be witnessing the purest form of '90s rap in 2016.
At first listen to East's debut album, one thing becomes crystal clear: This album means absolutely everything to him. Titling it after his first child, Kairi Chanel, he gives a sincere invitation to anyone who comes across the project into a realm of transparency, truth, and aspiration. As I stood in the crowd at his New York City listening party and watched him introduce the first track, “It Was Written,” I paid close attention as to why he named it that, considering he's Nas' signee.
“This sh-t is pain right here," he said. "I got the title from one of Nas’s classic albums, so I just wanted to start the tape off that way. Just really wanted to pay him respects for getting me up out the projects, changing my life…word.”
Kairi Chanel features producers with the Midas touch like Buda, Grandz, and Cardo. East reveals his fears with songs like “Don’t Shoot”; goes toe to toe with lyrical greats on songs like “Eyes on Me,” “S.D.E,” and “The Real Is Back”; and gives us a deeper look at who he is, where he's from, and what he cares about with songs like “Don Pablo” and “The Only Thing.”
The last time I was baffled by the amount of veterans that blessed a new artist’s debut album, I was holding a copy of The Documentary by The Game, who had features from 50 Cent, Faith Evans, Mary J. Blige, Nate Dogg, Eminem, and Busta Rhymes). The Documentary went on to receive two Grammy nominations, and some even labeled it one of the classic albums of its decade. East rivals this, with features from Nas, 2 Chainz, Sevyn Streeter, Fabolous, Cam’ron, and Beanie Sigel.
East closes out Kairi Chanel with a bonus track featuring The Game, coincidently...maybe he sees what we see, that East has a classic on his hands.