Album Review of Psychodrama by Dave

On the 8th March 2019, Streatham-born rapper Dave released his debut album Psychodrama, offering tracks that are both incisive and deeply personal. People unfamiliar with the British artist usually react slightly perplexed at his seemingly ‘regular’ name. What sort of rapper calls themselves Dave? When listening to his superb debut album, you’ll soon discover there is very little that is ‘regular’ about him. At just 20 years old, David Orobosa Omoregie has released one of the most moving and much-needed rap albums that Britain has seen in some time.

A very talented pianist, as well as a rapper and singer, a big part of the album sees Dave often spit bars over discordant chords to augment the urgency of his chosen subject. In other instances he raps in ill-tempered and assertive tones that show the struggle and depressive states he has suffered. His complex bars, filled with double entendres, complement the emotional sequences and intensities that play during the eleven songs that make up Psychodrama.

According to Dave, the concept for the album derived from conversations with one of his older brothers who is currently serving a sentence in prison. On the eleventh song ‘Drama’, Dave quotes his brother’s words to form the lyrics : “Forget the other brother that was even bigger/ We were figures just trying to figure out if we could be a figure.” Much of the album talks about brotherhood and has a huge sense of childhood struggles, especially as a young black man in London, England.

On ‘Environment’, one of my personal favourites, he discusses the conflict between what people see of his seemingly glamorous and high-status life. This, he says contrasts massively with the reality of the hardships of what goes on behind the scenes where the work is drawn out of him painstakingly. Similarly, ‘Black’ also talks about the struggle is often even more difficult than it may seem to an outsider, this time in terms of race. One of the best bars in this song, in my opinion, is the rhyme: “It's workin' twice as hard as the people you know you're better than/'Cause you need to do double what they do so you can level them”. The truth of work and labour as a person of colour is evident. It is clear he has put his heart and soul into this album.

The tracks are brilliantly insightful in how they capture moments of daily lives and transform them into important lessons. As aforementioned, ‘Black’ considers what the title word means to different people across the globe, the struggles black people face in a social structure that time and time again seems to be against them, yet the pride he feels as a black man of which he says it’s “All he knows” and that he “wouldn’t change it”. It is clear that Dave has a greatly intelligent mind that is set to express his thoughts and in doing so puts into words the experiences of so many others.

Conversely, ‘Psycho’ discusses topics such as depression, something that is very relatable to many people but especially young people in our current society. The world is facing bounds of difficulties and it seems that the youth are the ones most affected. Dave astutely addresses these often undiscussed topics. The bar “It’s like I’m happy for a second then I’m sad again” is one that stood out and resonates immensely with his fans.

Threaded throughout the album is the sense of internal struggle and conflict, particularly in moments when he voices his concern of failure, his questioning of legacy, and making those around him proud. With everything he has achieved in such a short space of time there is no doubt that Dave has a big future ahead of him in the music business.

The influences of grime, hip-hop, and rap are clear in this album. The music changes in tempo as does the timing of the songs with most ranging from around 3-4 minutes. The song ‘Lesly’ therefore is clearly a very significant one since it lasts 11.08 minutes. Automatically, this makes listeners focus closely on the message behind this song, and what an important one it is. Dave raps an account of a woman, who is of a different background, with whom he converses with on the train- “Two different

worlds but the same location”. It suggests that the divide between different backgrounds, whether racial, socio-economic, political or cultural, does not mean people cannot unite. ‘Lesley’ goes on to discuss that the woman is trapped in an abusive relationship and the closing lines see Dave simply ask: “How many women are going through the same thing, who could be sitting right next to you”. A greatly profound line that encourages listeners to have empathy for those around us for we do not know their struggles. The subject of domestic abuse is one that has for too long been a taboo and with young people like Dave, who has a massive young following, publicly addressing it is crucial in heightening awareness. It is by far one of the best songs on the album, an absolute masterpiece.

Overall, Psychodrama is a brilliant album that makes me hopeful for the future. This is an album for the long haul, addressing emotions and hardships in genius lyrics that will resonate for a long time. It is clear that since winning his first MOBO Award for Best Newcomer Act in 2017, Dave has come leaps and bounds. I am eagerly anticipating his next project but in the meantime I will happily listen to another repeat of Psychodrama.

 

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