We live in cynical times, have for years, decades. While once love songs poured through the nation's speakers, now love is considered somehow cheap, false, with aggression, lust, heartache and excitement often confused with authenticity. Happiness is one of humanity's most basic, true emotions - so why does it feel so remarkable to hear an artist say they're dedicated to making music that uplifts?
Happiness has become an almost revolutionary act, and Dave B is a revolutionary. That's why he's been selected as a part of our special Top Prospects series with A3C.
When I reach Dave B on the phone he's in Seattle, and of course. With the exception of a year spent in college in Chicago - yes, one year, we'll get to that later - he's called the city of rain and northern lights home for his entire life, and in his earliest years his home within that home was the church. His father was a youth pastor, and worked at a gospel radio station, so spiritual music surrounded him like oxygen and his first performances came in the church.
His older sister was a Cash Money fanatic who played hip-hop for him early on, but at first he was disinterested. "I didn't get into hip-hop off the jump. I just liked gospel music, it felt good," he said. "I was listening to Kirk Franklin, I wasn't trying to hear the Hot Boys."
As time went on and he heard more hip-hop he felt drawn to it as well - a Bad Boy compilation CD was pivotal, and truth be told, so was Lil Bow Wow's album. Now he certainly wouldn't shy away from calling his art hip-hop, but his gospel roots run deep throughout all of his music.
I'd say I'm making gospel influenced music, the harmonies, it always has some soul in it. And the content, I'm not going to say it's light, but it's designed to make you feel good, just like the records I grew up on. It's for a good feeling.
Dave B had been rapping since the days of MySpace uploads, but music wasn't always firmly in the plans. Like some kind of hidden magnet in his life, it just kept drawing him in. In high school he pursued acting and musical theater - "I was never the best actor, I just knew I wanted to perform, and I knew I liked music" and then followed the arts a step further during a short college stint in Chicago, but quickly realized that he was spending all of his time in his dorm room making music, something he could do for free at home.
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Back in Seattle the pursuit of a musical career began in earnest. As he said, Macklemore's explosion to fame had seemingly inspired everyone in the city to pick up a mic, but while the nation's attention certainly swung Seattle's way, that attention so far hasn't truly amounted to more artists reaching the national spotlight.
So instead of chasing fame, Dave B decided he was simply going to make the best music he possibly could every day - and he did. Over the last year albums like Punch Drunk and Tomorrow, a collaborative effort with Sango, have garnered wide-ranging praise. It turns out people really are looking for happiness.
No one's life is peachy 24 hours a day, and I'm going to speak on real shit, the things I'm really going through in my life. That others are going through. But I'm always trying to channel all that soul, that feeling. It's all about making people feel good. And I know life's not all good - but I want to lift people up.
Don't be afraid of music that makes you feel good, don't be afraid of love, or happiness, or hope. Hip-hop can contain all those emotions, and more, it just takes a unique spirit to channel that energy. Dave B is that channel, stay tuned.
NOTE: We've partnered with A3C for Top Prospects. Over the last two months we've unveiled four other selected artists, ultimately culminating in what's sure to be the greatest musical performance in the history of human kind during the A3C festival in October, along with a boat load of other great content we're currently in top secret production on.
TICKETS: Tickets to our A3C TopProspects show are now on sale. You can cop tickets to just the TopProspects show here (a festival pass will also get you in), or get a $20 discount on a festival pass by entering the code 20topprospectsa3cwhen you buy.
By Nathan S, the former managing editor of DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.
Original illustration by Joshua Hayden aka JHAY. Follow him on Instagram.