A couple of weeks back, while opening for Project Pat at Santos Party House, Black Dave’s energy was just what the crowd needed–an energetic East coast flow over bass-driven, down-South production. A precocious character, lively but wise, Black Dave doesn’t seem to have any fear when it comes to chasing his dreams.
The visuals that surround his most known tracks, “Muthafuck! My Enemies” and “On Da Map” put you in the mind of a rebel socialite NYC kid sticking to his guns, not really fucking with the cops. Lyrically, neither are standouts but a movement seems to be taking place amongst the New York youth that’s more indicative of the boom-bap that dominated hip-hop in the 90’s.
The 21-year-old Harlemite, who also works for the trailblazing street-wear brand Supreme, is embarking on the world with a skateboard in one hand and a microphone in the other. These days everyone’s a skater, but something tells us that Black Dave’s got something unique up his sleeve.
You’re from Harlem right?
Yea. I was actually born in the Bronx. Lived in their ’till I was about 12 years old and then moved to Harlem with my mom.
So most of your childhood was spent in the Bronx?
The Bronx in the beginning before I started really skating. It was pretty cool. Kind of never went into the city at all, but then when I moved to Harlem, then I started to go through lower Manhattan and seeing all the art. I remember seeing all the art when I was a little kid. I remember seeing all the Keith Haring like the “Crack Was Wack” murals and all that throughout the city. It was dope.
What year were you born?
I was born in ‘92. I’m 21 now.
Did that whole Harlem era with Dipset influence you? Did it have you rockin’ long white tees and big diamond earrings?
(Laughs) It was a huge influence. Nah, at that point I was skating. So the music was always a huge influence but I always looked like a skater.
Skaters and rappers seem to suffer from persecution of the police department. How do you feel about police brutality?
In a couple of my songs I actually have spoken out about the police and unlawful violence and unlawful acts by them. Especially being a young black kid growing up. It’s good to get my name out there in another way and get my message out there in another way because I have a lot to say and I have a creative outlook on it.
Did you hear about the kid that was shot in the back in Brooklyn a couple weeks back?
That was horrible. You know it’s been going on for years. Now that we have Facebook and Twitter a lot of the young kids know more about it. I’m not even surprised.
How’d you get into skating?
I’m the only child and I didn’t really fit into basketball and baseball and things like that regular kid stuff growing up. I didn’t really like being told what to do as far as anything athletic things and exercising. I started [skating] at 10 and I just kept moving, kept going. So once I found skating I kind of just clung to it.
I’m not big on skate culture but I’m aware there’s a difference between vert skating and street skating?
There was never really any skate parks until recently in New York, so we had to learn on the street.
Who did you look to growing up in New York skate culture?
Growing up I was looking up to people like Harold Hunter. Eric Koston. Andrew Reynolds…Kareem Campbell was a huge influence.
Did that funnel into Supreme? How?
It did. It definitely did. Growing up skating in the Lower East Side I would always see those dudes skating around. I was always the younger dude in the squad but once you’re linked in with those dudes, it’s kind of like a family. I’ve always gotten support from Supreme and they support me.
How do you feel about the relation between skate and rap. Supreme’s always been aligned with that, right?
The cultures have always been close together. It’s hard for someone to come out and be aligned with both in an authentic way and Supreme has always done that. They’ve always had collabs with Dipset and Jason Dill and Eric Koston rocking the product. It was always tied into the culture. Now we live in such a digital lifestyle, every kid wants to skate and rap but I’m just trying to represent it in a natural way.
Most of the production on your tape was handled by Shy Guy, yeah?
Shy Guy is my main producer. I’m actually working with a project with him that’s going to come this summer. It’s a lot of musicians out there that aren’t getting their stuff out there so I’ve been collaborating with them as well. Shy Guy’s stuff is really great and it’s a lot of bass. Good in the whip and good on the stage.
I heard you were out at SXSW too?
Yea man, Thrasher hit us up. That was definitely a blessing. It was last minute and they reached out. The mixtape I just put out the cover was based on Thrasher so we were definitely excited about that. It was fun.
How’d you get the name Black Dave?
Oh yea well, when I first started skating I skated with a bunch of white kids and there were black kids in the crew too but they always called me that. As soon as I started making music, I just said let me go by Black Dave because that’s what people know me as anyway.
Coming from a minority driven borough, how did it feel to be the only black kid around sometimes?
It’s definitely a learning experience. A lot of people box themselves in and skating is one of the most diverse things out. It doesn’t matter what this person’s skin color or race or age, whatever. As long as y’all skating and having fun, that’s what matters. Skating taught me to respect people for what they really are. That’s just really what it was since day one.
Has skating ever taken you out of the United States?
I travel a lot with my sponsor Zoo York and I get Nike for shoes and Supreme obviously for clothes. But yea, I’ve traveled around the U.S for tours and Canada for tours. That was my first time to be able to travel outside of the country through skating.
When was your first performance?
I’ve done stuff before but my first performance with press was probably around Chief Keef during his first performance in New York. That was my first time with press and everything being there. But I didn’t even think about it. I just went up there with my friends and had a lot of fun.
How do you feel about the current climate of New York hip-hop?
It’s dope man. Everything is back on full scale as far as originality and everything. A$AP Rocky really set the tone for giving new artist light coming from New York City so I’m definitely excited about branching out and collaborating with more rappers from New York.
There’s a lot of energy in your tape, but it seems like there are things you want to say too.
Yes that what I’m trying to do: have sort of like a new school vibe of production but also stay true to what I want to say, and New York and the youth and that’s what “Stay Black’ meant. Just stay true to you no matter what anyone says because that’s what skaters go through. When I was growing up there were not really any black skaters. This was before Lupe and Lil’ Wayne. I would dress how I wanted and people would shit on me and call me Tony Hawk this and that. People were hating but it’s not about that. It’s about what you want to do and look at what skating has become now.
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