Dave East, Paranoia: A True Story | Album Review
On his solid major label debut, ‘Paranoia: A True Story,’ Dave East shows he is a rapper to watch without question.
There are lots of rappers in the game. In 2017, the number of rap albums and mixtapes seem off the charts. Furthermore, the definition of rap has become blurred, like a number of musical styles these days. Even with the introduction of a lot of subgenres of rap, not everybody is part of the new-school. Dave East, a Nas protégé, is east-coast, hard-nosed, hardcore rap through and through. On his major label debut, Paranoia: A True Story, East shows he is a rapper to watch without question.
Paranoia: A True Story gets off to roaring start. Fittingly, the best song of the album, “Paranoia,” kicks things off. A truly souped-up banger, Dave East is assisted by one of the hardest G’s of them all, Jeezy. The production work is malicious AF, setting up a rich, if dark backdrop for East and Jeezy to paint their gritty rhymes. The hook shines in particular:
“Paranoia gettin’ the best of me / I don’t want nobody next to me / Don’t talk unless you got a check for me / I don’t see nobody ahead of me / Foreigns, we jump out the back of ‘em / I cannot wait ‘til this pack is done / Don’t care if they foreign, we crashin’ ‘em / Take a look at my b*tch, ain’t a badder one.”
Following the colorful “The Hated (Skit),” “The Hated” pairs Dave East with his mentor, Nas. Expectedly, the results are superb. Nas plays a limited role – on the intro and the outro – but accentuates the song nonetheless. Once again, the production work is on-point, and the rhymes from East are strong. His best attribute is his honesty and openness, as he tells his story.
Keeping the hits coming, “Phone Jumpin” arrives, featuring Wiz Khalifa. The question is, why is the “phone jumpin?” It’s all about hustling, which East nails on the hook.
“Residue still on my hand / It feel like I’m back in the kitchen / Your b*tch in the back of the Fisker / You can’t imagine the trenches / What you know about trappin’ and pitchin’? / Now I got em laughing up in the back of the Bentley / What you know about not having a penny? / Phone jumpin’ gotta bag it up quickly.”
Wiz is at home here, rapping about his favorite subject: weed. Although it’s been said repeatedly, the production work is particularly marvelous. Those strings and that devastating beat. Woo!
Following the sexual “Jazzy (Interlude)” comes the sexual “Perfect.” Guess who appears on the rap song about sex? Chris Brown of course. It’s sound, by all means, but the script is predictable, particularly from Brown. Also, the five-minute-plus duration is a bit much. “Found a Way” is better in regards to duration, just approaching the four-minute mark. Like “Perfect,” it fails to be as elite as the crème de la crème – “Paranoia,” “The Hated” and “Phone Jumpin” – but it’s respectable by all means.
“Maneuver” doesn’t reach the heights of the aforementioned chosen ones, but it’s one of the better moments from Paranoia. French Montana remains a so-so rapper, yet this luxurious, sax-driven joint suits him. The line about his “lawyer in Jerusalem” is memorable. East continues to deliver his rhymes with a bite and grittiness.
On the interlude “Pops Crazy,” one isn’t sure whether to call East’s dad as the coolest ever or completely perverted. Logically, it’s the latter. “My Dirty Little Secret” keeps Paranoia “on” to say the least. The dusty drums definitely exemplify the east coast, New York rap at its best. East rides the soulful production like a champ.
East’s baby gets a cute moment on Paranoia on “Kairi Speaks (Skit),” the final interlude. Two more songs conclude the album: “Wanna Be Me” and “Have You Ever.” As the title suggests, on “Wanna Be Me,” that’s just what the rapper wants to do. That includes carnal lyrics such as, “I Just want a girl that likes girls so we can pick in choose.” Back up a line, and the wordplay is pretty clever:
“I make way more than my teachers, f*ck how I did in school / I just want a girl that like girls so we can pick and choose.”
“Have You Ever” continues the excellence. Great rhymes and great production work.
All in all, Dave East shines on his major label debut, Paranoia: A True Story. What makes this such a strong album is the tough, gritty persona that East presents. He has an excellent flow, and his rhymes have some bite. Furthermore, the production work is strong throughout the album. The east coast is well represented in his hands.
Gems: “Paranoia,” “The Hated,” “Phone Jumpin,” “Maneuver” & “My Dirty Little Secret”