The “art of storytelling” (apologies to OutKast) is something that has seemingly disappeared from current hip-hop. Disregard a handful of the well intended, old-school influenced emcees of today — Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole — and (at least for old heads) hip-hop seems to be a ghost-town, artists escaping its storytelling roots for self-obsessed tendencies. Granted, this has practically always been a key element of the genre, but nowadays, egos and bank accounts seem to matter more than lyrical content. Hip-hop no longer seems concerned about the artistic aspect of the profession, ready to move on and sell out.

For Bronx-native emcee Dave East, however, this leaves a massive window of opportunity. East is one of today’s finest storytellers, both charismatic and passionate. He spits tales of his embattled upbringing, fake friends chasing him down after his appearances on MTV, and raising his daughter. In many ways, Dave East is crafting a role as "the good guy" of hip-hop — the loyal father, the loyal emcee, always staying true to his roots. East seems to have it all: drive, passion, and talent.

However, where East falls short isn’t necessarily his flow, but his latest studio project, the LP guised as EP, P2. East’s lyrical skills are there, clearly, but he just so happens to fall into the exact same tropes as most of the radio-friendly emcees of today. Though it's meant as something of prelude to East's genuine debut, P2 mostly sounds like an effort that will be swept under the rug as soon as its PR cycle is over with. It’s an unfortunate trend in the age of constant digital consumption — as the majority of artists put their heart and soul into something, just for the listener to forget about it some weeks later — and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

Though most of the songs on P2 are indeed hookless, it often leads to spurts of blandness. Still, if you search, you’re likely to find a few diamonds in the rough: “Prosper” is outrageously ambitious, filled with lush production and a relentless flow, while “Powder” channels the typical “mumble-rap” flow, although the lyrical content is striking and rich, marking East’s spot as a quixotic storyteller. Though the chronological order in which the record is delivered in can be a bit exhausting, making for a semi-taxing listen, there are dozens of moments filled with nostalgic, 2000s-era NYC hip-hop. These moments seem to back up East as he tries to find his own voice through the entire effort.

Perhaps the finest moment is is “Violent,” featuring East Coast rap-vet and G-Unit mainstay Lloyd Banks, who continues to show why he's the Punchline King. With some menacing samples backing them up, both MC's — though Banks’ voice sounds extremely worn and weathered, even for him — sound their finest and purest. These flashes of sudden genius seem to make up for the spotty manner in which P2 is delivered in, an album that, although hype-worthy and buzzy, fails to make a truly lasting impression. However, if East can bring his same passion along for when he's finally ready to offer his debut proper, we hopefully have something to look forward to.