Dave East is back as an enthralling, bare-bones lyrical beast on Paranoia 2. It is a switch-up from ‘Karma’, the mixtape he dropped almost two months ago, seeing East backtrack a little from the constant braggadocio about his new lifestyle and instead delving into his life story. East has never been lacking in the quality of his lyricism and there isn’t a dip on this project. Towards the latter end of ‘Karma”, the repetitiveness of money, clothes, women began to grind on the ears and made it harder to listen to the full project. When he’s just focusing on these aspects of his new life (while pretty dope), East leaves many fans wanting for his ability to weave visceral stories of his childhood or being in the streets that made them fall in love with him in the first place.
Much of the tape finds East in a reminiscent mood, taking us from his trips picking up a new pack, to him talking to/having an open conversation with his dead homies. In the past few years he has lost two of his closest friends and those feelings of pain and loss come through his voice on tracks such as ‘Corey’ and ‘Talk to Big’. The second track on the project ‘Prosper’ finds East talking about the ways he came up and feeling good about how far he’s come in that time, but it doesn’t seem over the top or him simply throwing a bunch of designer names around to show off. He makes it clear how hard he had to fight to come to this point, the come-up out the slums off the work, and that he isn’t just doing this for him, it’s for his mom, his daughter, and longevity of wealth once he’s gone. It somewhat serves as a somber warning to kids in the streets still, hustling trying to make money that way, that you have to be ready for it to all end in a moments notice and hopefully you have something set aside for the fam when the time comes. One of the nicer cuts on the project is ’Thank you’, throwing a middle finger to those who said fuck him and hated while he was coming up, and at the same time showing a lot of love to all of those out there who support him ‘Now when i pull up in the city everyone knows my name’. Throughout the album, Dave East shows us the lows he came out of and gives off, not quite a remorseful attitude towards what he had to do to make it.
Overall the sound quality and production is pretty quality, nothing to really complain about, with his beat selection making a lot of the album. If he had chosen a “Red Bottoms” beat, or a “KD” type beat, it would have had a different edge to the album, but with the slowed down, and not interfering with the lyrics type of beats selected it gives space for east to actually do his thing and show how much of a beast lyrically he is as well as being able to give us emotion and depth to the music. The album ends on a heart-open, guard-down song which has East traversing a mountain of piano keys that give him the backdrop to let us really see into his mind and take a trip through his journey. Marsha Ambrosius lends a beautiful voice to the song, slowly easing the listener out of the album and back to reality. This is one of my favorite East projects so far, and it’ll be interesting to see where the next project falls on his range, more of the street-tales and taking a double-look at the new lifestyle he’s living, or if he’ll slide to the braggadocio that plastered ‘Karma’.