As well as a celebration – “black is beautiful, black is excellent” – the rapper also tackles institutional racism and brutality. “We’re just gonna talk about your background, where you’re from, any issues you’ve been dealing with. Whether it be the rallying cry for racial identity on "Black," generational voicing of "Environment," or 11-minute domestic abuse narrative of "Lesley," Dave's words consistently blur the line between personal and universal, addressing significant issues aptly while giving greater insight into the artist himself. For Complex, Natty Kasambala wrote that "For a record tackling such heavy subject matter, it's still shockingly listenable and by constantly moving through different paces it holds y… “Champagne bottles and all the screaming girls,” he raps on ‘Environment’, “it’s ironic how you’ll never hear a scream for help/ Fuckin’ hell, why do you think we’re going through the same thing? Not sure who Dave is? “If he’s white you give him a chance, he’s ill and confused. Dave uses the term as a cathartic glue to bind heavy themes together, bringing listeners into his therapy room while he grapples with societal injustice, industry contradictions, and private pain. The world's defining voice in music and pop culture since 1952. “Psycho” serves as the intro to Dave’s debut album, PSYCHODRAMA. Conversations with his incarcerated brother – who is having therapy while serving his sentence – also inspired the album’s overarching concept. By its end, “Lesley” becomes a passionate call-to-action; as Dave puts it, “a message to a woman with a toxic man” who he is “begging… to get support if you’re lost or trapped.” In a world craving artists who use their influence for good, Dave offers a road map for inspired musicians and inquisitive listeners alike. ‘Psychodrama’ is scattered with spoken excerpts from Dave’s psychotherapist, and the whole record is concerned with openness and honesty. psychotherapist, and the whole record is concerned with openness and honesty. On “Thiago Silva” he proved he could hold his own at a grime tempo, and fans soon discovered he played the piano, too. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 90, based on 10 reviews and it is currently one of the top 100 highest-rated albums on the website. After telling her story, Dave adds that “the story is more than a song or track/ It’s a message to a woman with a toxic man/ I’m begging you to get support if you’re lost or trapped” And two tracks later, on ‘Drama’, he reveals that the song is based on the experiences of his relatives. He’s currently serving a life sentence for his role in the murder of, Sofyen Belamouadden at London Victoria Station in 2010, and the song plays out as a conversation between the pair: “. Trapped in an abusive relationship, and pregnant with her abuser’s child, Lesley confides in him as she struggles with leaving her violent boyfriend Jason. “Lesley” closes on the disembodied voice of Dave’s fictional therapist, who expresses relief as his client nears the end of the album’s psychodramatic course. Making reference to police shooting unarmed black men dead – while also protecting white mass-murderers like Dylann Roof – Dave highlights the vast discrepancies. Yet Dave wanted it to get it right the first time. He’s currently serving a life sentence for his role in the murder of Sofyen Belamouadden at London Victoria Station in 2010, and the song plays out as a conversation between the pair: “I just lost the only fucking person that I idolised,” Dave says, angry and hurt. Much like the late-teen Nas on Illmatic, Dave's pen works beyond his years. The track, which is produced by Kyle Evans, sees Dave speak on the issues surrounding him, varying from pain to Trapped in an abusive relationship, and pregnant with her abuser’s child, Lesley confides in him as she struggles with leaving her violent boyfriend Jason. Songs like “Screwface Capital” and “Streatham” stick closely to Dave’s formula of conscious, modern UK rap, delivering hard yet emotionally available odes to the cold city that birthed him. Psychodrama received universal acclaim from critics. Much like the late-teen Nas on Illmatic, Dave's pen works beyond his years. Conversations with his incarcerated brother – who is having therapy while serving his sentence – also inspired the album’s overarching concept. The result is a thoroughly compelling self-examination; taking us track by track through attitudes, occurrences, and locations, Dave paints a detailed self-portrait, wrapped in strands of both past and present. PSYCHODRAMA holds visions of broken relationships, poverty, and deep-set depression, yet they're never inflated; through projecting his own experiences, Dave reflects the conditions of his South London home with frankness and personal grievance. The album starts and finishes with songs “Psycho” and “Drama,” respectively, and the latter includes a touching dialogue with his older brother, who is serving a life sentence in prison. His debut album tells you everything you need to know about the Streatham rapper. But the song—on which Dave shares his piano bench with acclaimed producer Fraser T. Smith, whose influence can be heard throughout the album—is not just a proud race anthem. Packing dense lyricism, poignant introspection, and resonant production into a neatly compiled concept, PSYCHODRAMA has all the makings of a generational classic. ‘Psychodrama’ is scattered with spoken excerpts from Dave’s. “Tuesday, 23rd of January, 2018, I’m here with David, this is our first session,” the therapist says, opening the album. Softer, poppier offerings like “Purple Heart” and “Voices” will appeal to Dave’s increasingly diverse audience of older fans and newcomers seeking easy access to London’s unforgivingly hardline rap scene. Lines like "Now he's cuttin' through bricks like the 118" manifest triple entendres with ease, while others like "I've got a baby, a crossbow like Cupid" employ sly references to Dave's home city. Often ‘Psychodrama’ returns to the idea that being a mega-star isn’t all it has cracked up to be; if anything the excess and glamour that surrounds it can make reaching out for support very difficult. ‘Screwface Capital’ dodges from hyperbolic boasts (“made a link with the Russians / Six figure discussions“) to sudden realism; the song ends with the rapper reflecting on his past. Often ‘Psychodrama’ returns to the idea that being a mega-star isn’t all it has cracked up to be; if anything the excess and glamour that surrounds it can make reaching out for support very difficult. PSYCHODRAMA holds visions of broken relationships, poverty, and deep-set depression, yet they're never inflated; through projecting his own experiences, Dave reflects the conditions of his South London home with frankness and personal grievance. The primary force at work here, though, is Dave's piano. What’s he all about? The final song on Dave’s debut, ‘Drama’ opens with a recording of Dave’s older brother calling on the phone from prison. So, where should we start?” His voice is sampled again on ‘Purple Heart’ and ‘Environment’. Now Dave is 20, and his debut album, Psychodrama, is one of the most significant bodies of British rap music in a generation. On his debut album, the talented South London rapper Dave explores family and identity with the unguarded catharsis of a therapy session. An urgent, sprawling exploration, ‘Black’ digs beneath the surface, and sees Dave laying out what blackness represents to him: “L, while also protecting white mass-murderers like Dylann Roof. “Tuesday, 23rd of January, 2018, I’m here with David, this is our first session,” the therapist says, opening the album. “We’re just gonna talk about your background, where you’re from, any issues you’ve been dealing with. “I’m just happy you’re at a place now where you feel you understand your emotions, and are in control,” the therapist says. As much as these words mark Dave’s progress in his quest to get … This haunting backdrop has long bled into Dave’s lyricism—“Never had a father and I needed you to be the figure,” he cries in the album’s closing passage—but its impact is more closely examined across Psychodrama than ever before. With snippets from his therapist dividing the album into three self-described "acts" -- Environment, Relationships, and Social Compass -- the project sees Dave re-enacting lived experiences and mind states in self-reflection. If he’s black he’s probably armed, you see him and shoot.”. It was difficult to fathom that he was only a teenager. Three years ago, Dave started to gain a reputation for his freestyle videos. The young wordsmith, also known as Santan Dave, would stare into the camera and relay fierce reflections about his tumultuous life, using them as a lyrical crowbar to pry open the doors keeping voiceless Londoners in the dark. The result is an album where sonics reinforce moods, allowing Dave to express a wealth of emotions in a measured, complex approach. Whether he’s bragging about being a sex god or his financial successes, Dave’s got a talent for spinning things off in surprising directions. Inspired by Dave’s older brother therapy sessions while in prison, ‘Psychodrama’ is a moving quasi-concept album, looking at the push-pull between the person and the world around them. © 2020 NME is a member of the media division of BandLab Technologies. In an emotional 11 minute track, Dave tells the tale of a woman named Lesley, who he befriends on the train from Norbury Station. Taking on race, mental health, the prison system and abuse with unmatched storytelling, it’s a sort of musical scrapbook, which tells you everything you need to know about him. There are several points on Dave’s debut album, Psychodrama, where the Streatham rapper’s slick wordplay, double entendres, and dysphemistic lyrics are interjected with the voice of a counsellor. “I’m just happy you’re at a place now where you feel you understand your emotions, and are in control,” he says. Luckily, PSYCHODRAMA's production is thoroughly complementary, adding texture and resonance to Dave's words while ensuring his voice remains center stage. But the gravitational pull at the center of this magnum opus is “Lesley,” an 11-minute deep dive into the life and abusive relationship of a woman Dave meets on a train, as if colliding “two different worlds in the same location.” It is a microcosm of Psychodrama’s refusal to contain itself as a work of art, instead reaching for emotional intimacy and therapeutic resonance. Over 11 songs and much hypnotic piano playing, Dave sets his conceptual limits, and then fills them with an urban opera that blends his desire to exorcize demons with old-soul musical wisdom and youthful performativity.
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