Born Noah David Coogler, White Dave grew up in Richmond, CA where he stood out from his peers even as a child. “People used to always say ‘You act and talk like Carlton Banks from Fresh Prince,” says the 28-year-old. As a black kid growing up in the Bay, specifically in the city where Master P gassed up his No Limit tank, Dave's perceived lack of a rough edge made him a target. “That was the go to insult. The other one was ‘Oreo.’ It was exacerbated by the fact that I'm from Richmond, and you know stereotypically niggas from Richmond don't act like me,” says Dave. So no, White Dave isn’t white. The moniker is just an extension of the proudly black Noah David Coogler, who happens to march to the beat of a different 808.
About that name. It was given to him by his older brother who also has a very recognizable name for different reasons--he’s the award-winning director of Fruitvale Station, Black Panther, and Creed, Ryan Coogler. White Dave initially began rapping, producing, and recording his own music at 12 using the stage name Noah David. Years later, as a 20-year-old, he found himself still grappling with some of the same negative comments from his peers that he endured as a child.
In his own Rocky Balboa to Adonis Creed way, instead of telling Dave to respond to the negative insults in kind or change his ways to fit in, Ryan encouraged his younger brother to lean into the blows to take away their sting. “I had been telling him that I used to get criticized a lot. People used to say I talked white, acted white, dressed white, did white shit,” says Dave. “And big bro was like, ‘You just gotta take anything that they put negative on you and just turn it into something positive.’ Then he actually gave me the rap name White Dave, and I been running with that shit ever since.”
With a new name and sense of purpose, it wasn’t long before Dave began to take music more seriously. Though he’d been making music since his adolescent years—sharing his work with friends via AOL Instant Messenger—and loved the process of creating songs, he still harbored lingering doubts. It was only in his early 20s that he pushed his creativity into overdrive and became the confident artist that he is today.
He takes standard hip-hop tropes like the strip club song, and turns them on their ear on “Rotate.” On his 2017 track “Bandz,” ostensibly about money and materialism, he spits “I don't want a Bugatti, all you niggas is buggin'/Zuckerberg ridin' Uber and Buffet pushin' a bucket.”
Dave also finds inspiration in other genres and artforms. From video games (he placed the aforementioned “Bandz” on the NBA 2K17 soundtrack), to directing his own videos, working with international producers, and writing and singing R&B/pop songs, his new music reflects all of his interests. In addition, Dave's latest work is driven by a new level of conviction and purpose. “My new shit is like, I know that this is my fucking job and it has to be good,” says Dave. “Now I eat off my music, I pay bills off my music, I keep a roof over my head off my music. So that's my approach now.”
White Dave ain’t white. He’s Ryan Coogler’s brother, but he directs his own videos. He’s from Richmond, CA, but his music doesn’t sound like anything else out of the Bay. He is the sum of all of his influences, and simultaneously the furthest thing from them. In a word, he’s an original.