We got to hang out with West Philly‘s One Take Dave this month at his “FOR THE FREE” show at Bourbon & Branch, where we got to hear the first performance of his latest single “Free.99,” and we finally got to know Dave even more as an artist.

I haven’t attended any indie concert in a long few months, and I was glad that I accepted manager Myra Nieves‘ invitation to “FOR THE FREE.” En route to the event, producer Army Zenn and I shared our thoughts on One Take Dave‘s artistry — a conversation I was glad to have, as one doesn’t often hear the producer/engineer’s thoughts on the artists they choose to work with. “[Dave is] incredibly lyrical. He’s the rapper’s rapper,” says Zenn, who has worked extensively with Dave in the past, and on his upcoming album Shangri-La. Zenn continued, “They even sold out the show!” We were to be even more impressed as the night went on.

Firstly, the night was just a refreshing hip-hop show. There was a great eclectic mix of music and not 100% trap from DJ Ler Stevens, Dave‘s OnTheDaily staff ran the event efficiently, and the crowd wasn’t packed full of haters — something that a few Philadelphia indie shows have become notorious for. The call & response segments reverberated. People were dancing, drinking, shaking their dreads, talking, networking, and going hard right along with every performer and group that touched the stage.

Performer Jizza Raw handled himself extremely well during the technical difficulties that occurred during his set. While performing original songs, and tracks from his recently-released album Yesterday’s Painting, the sound abruptly shut off before being restarted, and Jizza Raw didn’t miss a beat by continuing to perform a capella. It’s always fun to see how these things are handled by the artist because, during that specific moment, the crowd (myself included) was fully invested into the set, and he chose to hold on to that energy. From my own past as a DJ, Raw could have let the situation go any kind of way: berating the DJ, being upset with himself or the crowd…but he didn’t let anything shake him. For a second there, he even smartly chose to end his set early, but we weren’t having that and the crowd was right back with him as he started over with even more gusto than before. A+ work, Jizza Raw!

Headliner One Take Dave blew us all away with his stage design & use of sound and light in the small upstairs space of B&B. There were intimate neon purple lights in the darkened room, which segued into flashing white strobe lights that matched the bravado of some of his more passionate singles like “Really Got It,” to a fun green light & confetti-filled finale with “Free.99.” It was really when Dave performed “UFO” that everyone was ready to sing along and finish the lyrics, & Dave‘s band impressively kept up with the demand.

From intitally hearing One Take Dave two months ago, I’ve found that he can hold his own on any type of beat. From meeting him, he’s incredibly down to earth, and an embodiment of the “new Philly” — artists that are injecting themselves fully into their communities and using their voices to give us new sounds, new thoughts, and new things to aspire to in the city.

I had an impromptu interview with One Take Dave when I slid into his DMs for this article, where we talked about his background growing up with a DJ for a father, his West Philly roots, and where he plans to take us in Shangri-La.


DTS MEDIA: What is OnTheDaily? Is it your production house, or events team?
One Take Dave (OTD): OnTheDaily is like the brand name of the company in a sense, so whether it’s publishing music, an event of ours, reaching out as an entity, etc., that’s what you’ll see as the primary, pretty much…I’m the type of person that’s a team player, meaning that although everyone is on board with pushing me as the face of it all, I still love to let the world know that it’s not just me doing these things that they see. It’s a collective of creative minds in a room with me going over the blueprints to be able to make the next move appropriately and precisely.

DTS MEDIA: Will there be other shows with different artists on the bill, or is it always this collective?
OTD: Yeah, for sure! It was such a great turn out that we would definitely want to have another show with the same concept. Probably won’t be the same line up because I like to help and show love to whoever I think is tough and deserves it. Those guys that were up there with me were my brothers in rap. I’ve been a fan of their music and vice versa, and we all happened to click off the bat, so that’s a very special line up. We’re actually looking in to having that same line up in another city soon, but as far as Philly goes, we definitely wanna mix it up and find some people that really love what they’re doing and [are] also doing it for the right reasons.

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DTS MEDIA: How does being from West Philly influence your sound when you rap on classic rap beats vs. today’s style? What do the old heads your way say?
OTD: Doesn’t influence a thing lol. I think what I had stuck in my head for the longest was just being proud to be from here. I would study and watch old clips on YouTube of interviews and stuff, and I would always hear, “yeah Philly is the home of the real spitters,” and that always stuck with me. The amount of pride we have is unmatched, especially when we’re out of town. I use that the most, rather than what someone can say to me. I pride myself on having something to say no matter the beat, no matter the topic. Knowledge, wit, or cleverness is something that I feel should always be present, and I will always try to keep that with me, no matter the instrumental.

DTS MEDIA: What’s it been like working with Army Zenn?
OTD: Army Zenn is the man! We’ve been cool ever since we first met at The Sound Gallery. I would ask for him personally to engineer my sessions just because he’s a great dude and has great energy, especially when it comes to the music. From the beats to the boards, you can tell that he has a genuine love and passion to make things from scratch, and that’s how every single person I can vouch for with music is, so it’s not a surprise that we’re cool actually. That’s the homie.

DTS MEDIA: What does your dad think of today’s rap? Did he support your music, growing up?
OTD: Yeah, my pop doesn’t get it all the way lmao. My dad is actually a DJ as well, him and his crew The Mighty B-Force were huge for Philly back in the day. He still does parties now, and he always texts me like “Yo DJ send me top ten songs of what the kids listening to.” It’s hilarious. He’s definitely proud, and even more excited now than ever after being able to hear the quality and see the visuals and things we’re doing. It’s a great feeling because he’s not too emotional, so when I show him something and he’s like “Yeah, send me that,” I know it’s something he really likes which is all I could ask for.

DTS MEDIA: How did you write “Free.99?”
OTD: “Free.99″ is just a play on words for me personally like when someone says it’s cold outside and then I would say “Whoopi Coldberg” lol so it all ties in to me having fun again and knowing that music makes me happy whether I’m getting paid, which would be great, or doing it for free like I currently am now lol we do it for the love.

DTS MEDIA: Can you tell us about your full project coming soon?
OTD: I do have a project coming; It’s called Shangri-la. It should be here by June, that’s what we’re aiming for because it’s an uptempo feel. I think it’s a perfect fit for the weather, and it’s just a glimpse of me having fun with music and falling back in love with it because I lost my way a bit…and that’s kinda what Shangri-la is, it’s a perfect world or utopia. That’s where I feel I’m at when I’m just able to kick back and create music all day. It’s very blissful.

Special thanks to Army Zenn, Jizza Raw, Myra Nieves, Bourbon & Branch, OnTheDaily, and One Take Dave.

Photos: Army Zenn