Survival (Bonus Track Version)

Survival (Bonus Track Version)

You can imagine why Dave East might be drawn to the theme of survival of the fittest: The born-and-bred New Yorker is vexingly multitalented, having traded a promising basketball career for a position as one of his city’s foremost Rotten Apple revivalists. The East Coast boom-bap classicism is clear from bar one on Survival, the rapper’s first official album, with a scratch-heavy DJ Premier beat that could’ve been left off Illmatic. (That checks out, considering Nas is East’s mentor; the fellow Queensbridge native shows up to big up his protégé over strings and brass on “Godfather 4.”) As always, East raps like he’s seen some shit—and he has—but Survival’s the lushest he’s ever sounded, with slinky Jodeci samples (“Alone”) and gorgeous Teyana Taylor guest spots (“Need a Sign”).

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