The last few months have been a whirlwind for Dave B, who is featured on Macklemore’s “Corner Store” single and who dropped his third album, “Pearl,” at the end of last year. He plays a “Pearl” release show Saturday, Jan. 27, at the Neptune Theatre.
The smell of weed is baked into the carpet of a Beacon Hill living room. It’s a Wednesday afternoon and David Bowman is all grins, unwinding an hour before he’s due in a North End studio.
The last few months have been a whirlwind for the Seattle rapper, better known as Dave B. The end of 2017 saw the gospel-indebted emcee dropping his third album, “Pearl,” making his national TV debut and playing a sold-out KeyArena. So, all these smiles were hard-earned, not just a product of whatever gave the carpet its aroma.
Both the “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” appearance and KeyArena set came courtesy of Macklemore. Bowman and White Center up-and-comer Travis Thompson are featured on Mack’s “Corner Store” single and, frankly, stole the show during a November performance of it on “Fallon.” A month later, Bowman was in front of more than 15,000 people opening the second show of Macklemore’s two-night stand at the Key.
Dave B: ‘Pearl’ release show
9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, Neptune Theatre, 1303 N.E. 45th St., Seattle; $15, 206-682-1414, (stgpresents.org).
“He has a good way of just texting you or calling you with some crazy-ass news,” Bowman says laughing, “like it’s casual and you gotta just be cool with it.”
Since winning MoPOP’s Sound Off competition in 2013, the choir-kid-turned-rapper has emerged as one of Seattle’s brightest hip-hop talents, catching the eye of a few national rap blogs. But it was his small-screen appearance that made his friends and family realize this whole rap thing isn’t “just a hobby anymore.” Plus, “it’s a great icebreaker when you’re at the bar,” he jokes.
The Macklemore bump is fortuitously timed as Bowman gears up for a “Pearl” release show Saturday, Jan. 27, at the Neptune Theatre. The 1,000-person venue is the largest room he’s headlined, making Saturday a barometer for just how far this winter’s snowball of momentum has rolled.
Timing, however, hasn’t always been Bowman’s strong suit. While his cerebral sophomore album, “Tomorrow,” earned raves locally, the rainy-day record — largely written during winter Link rides — was released in the middle of summer 2016. After his laptop, containing a trove of new music, got stolen, Bowman holed up in a studio all last summer laboriously recording/re-recording the type of breezy, top-down jams he was too busy to enjoy himself, only to drop the record in November.
“So, now we got all this sunny-day music and it’s raining outside,” he cracks with an oh-well chuckle. “Music is such a vibration, so what you’re seeing, what you’re absorbing, you’re putting that back out, one way or another.”
Either way, file the ultra-suave “Magnum” away for your next windows-down, Friday afternoon commute. After once trying to be “the best rappity rapper in the world,” the ex-preacher’s son is embracing the melody he grew up with (thanks to choir practice and Kirk Franklin records) better than ever. Bowman’s pitter-patter cadences and sterling melisma propel sunset cruiser “Down” and the swinging “Sweetest Thing,” a throwback R&B slow jam with a carefree guitar riff.
Despite the summer vibes — and late-night joy rider “Dreamboy” — “Pearl” is actually a breakup record, written as Bowman’s first foray into cohabitation was coming to an inelegant halt. (The “Sweetest Thing” lyrics pretty well sum up the mood: “It’s a shame you a star / and a pain in the ass / and I can’t take my mind off you.”)
“We dating, but we not dating, and we live together, but we don’t date — which is not a thing,” he recalls, pounding the card table beside him. It’s a rare moment in which his infectious smile fades and a punchline isn’t around the corner. “It was [expletive] up. But it gave me a lot of good songs.”
Hindsight’s clarity seems to have left the maturing artist at peace with how it all went down — even that turbulent night that ended with tears and someone getting a thousand dollars thrown at them.
“I would do it all over again,” Bowman says, laughing over his friend’s objections.
After the way the last few months have gone, it’s hard to blame him.