Dave East was born in Harlem, New York and spent most of his life between Harlem and Queensbridge. East is known for his raw lyricism and dark storytelling about street life. He is influenced by Styles P, Jadakiss, Cam’ron, Big Pun, Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., Raekwon, DMX, Tupac, Snoop Dogg and The Diplomats.
At a young age East had a love for basketball; however, his true passion was for writing rhymes, and using his rhymes to keep him above the circumstances around him. At some point, he moved to Maryland where he played at Springbrook High School. Additionally, he played in the Amateur Athletic Union with then-future NBA players Ty Lawson, Greivis Vasquez and Kevin Durant. After Springbrook High School, East attended the University of Richmond, then transferring to Towson University, while also gaining attention from the NBA but ultimately decided to focus on his music.
In 2010, he released his first mixtape Change of Plans which gained him a little recognition. He later released the mixtapes Insomnia, American Greed, Don’t Sleep and No Regrets, solidifying his commitment to music. In 2013 he then released his sixth mixtape Gemini.
In 2014, his music reached the ears of his favorite rapper Nas who quickly looked for ways to contact East. Unbeknownst to Nas, East was close friends with Nas’ younger brother and fellow rapper Jungle who quickly introduced the two. By summer 2014, East was the newest signee of Nas’ new Mass Appeal Records along with Bishop Nehru, Fashawn, Boldy James and Run The Jewels. In July 2014, he released his seventh mixtape Black Rose through the label, which received favorable reviews from music critics.[ In 2015, he released his eighth mixtape Hate Me Now with features from Pusha T, Nas, Mack Wilds, Jadakiss, Styles P and more.
On September 29, 2016, he announced that he has signed a deal with Def Jam Recordings and the next day released the mixtape, Kairi Chanel, which peaked at number 38 on the US Billboard 200. In January 2017, East made his acting debut, starring in BET’s Being Mary Jane series.