The heartbeat of Uptown Manhattan pumps with a unique pulse. Art, business, family, sports, drugs; there’s a hustle for everyone, regardless of what corner of Harlem you call home. Uptown talent also runs undoubtedly deep, including billionaire Sean Combs, Killa Cam, and the late Big L. History and superstars aside, it’s the new heat bubbling in Harlem right now that demands attention. Welcome, Dave East–sort of.

East is a consummate hard working hand, releasing seven mixtapes ahead of his latest Kairi Chanel. This audio tribute to his grind and newborn daughter isn’t his full-length debut (that’s coming later via his new Def Jam home), but it does play like an open project window into the world of the budding El Barrio star. Its grandeur and polish is the result of an artist who writes and records with a constant ear to the streets. A self-admitted “sponge,” East creates art that is a direct extension of the people and experiences of his East Harlem stomping grounds.
Kairi Chanel is packed with East’s trademark grit. You can smell the loud all over tracks like “Keisha” (one of the best 1st person tales since BIG’s Story To Tell”), “It Was Written,” The Real Is Back,” and “S.D.E.” featuring fellow Harlem representer and certified legend Cam’Ron. East’s hyper-relevant flow is packed with vivid accounts of life, love, and loss splattered on the canvas as only a native New Yorker could paint it. While “The Only Thing” exposes East’s heart; the fatal flaw that most rappers ignore. There’s passion in East’s writing that seems lost in today’s purple sea of turn up rap.

Continue to spin Kairi Chanel on repeat as you patiently wait for his debut to drop and as a reminder that New York rap can and will evolve but will never leave the building.