Dave - 'Psychodrama' Album Review
I think it's fair to say that grime is on a bit of a hiatus right now. I could be dramatic and proclaim that grime is dead but I'm certain that we're going to see a revival in the next few years with new JME and Wiley albums on the way. Until then however, we have a new wave of UK hip-hop that is sweeping the charts through artists like AJ Tracey and Octavian who are taking elements from american pop-rap and adapting it to the UK scene. As this border between American and UK rap breaks down there will always be people who want to keep them separate, but the increased interest in the UK scene from artists like Drake and Denzel Curry is shattering the international border, as British icons Giggs and Skepta have garnered overseas appeal thanks to features and remixes abroad. Throughout this fall of grime in recent years, one name has lead the charge in the new wave of UK Hip-Hop as Dave has consistently put out thought-provoking and hard-hitting tracks that helped push the genre into a more focused direction. On his debut album, Dave all but abandons the radio hit in pursuit of a more directly personal project, as Dave talks through all his issues with some of the best lyricism the UK can offer in this 11-track therapy session.
With the release of 'Funky Friday', Dave proved that he can make a radio hit, and it would have been easy for him to replicate that for 40+ minutes and garner his first #1 album. But instead of expanding his poppier sound, he chased after his more introspective side that he showed on tracks like 'Question Time' and 'Hangman', one of my favourite tracks of last year. This 'deeper' side of Dave comes out in full force on Pyschodrama. an album that is just an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish, in which Dave goes through the highs and lows of his short career, with a strong emphasis on the lows, going over his wavering mental health and insecurities. The opening track 'Psycho' dives right into this, starting off the album with emotive attack on the senses as Dave opens with an exploration into his psyche, going from his upbringing to his current mental health, as he transitions from headbobbing beat into a solo piano track with a hard hitting verse where he discusses suicidal thoughts and his upbringing.
Considering this is only the first track I'm going to run out of ways of describing Dave's 'deep' lyrics but it's fair to say that he tackles some tough topics on this album, making for a refreshing change of pace from the majority of UK Hip-Hop, as Dave uses tracks like 'Environment' to discuss the relationship between rappers and their upbringing. The highlight of this introspection is without a doubt the emotional gut punch that is 'Lesley', an 11 minute track that, while a little on the nose, is a behemoth of a track that sees Dave flexing his storytelling muscles to create a detailed account of domestic abuse that is a little overly-dramatic but provides an essential message nonetheless, with a fantastic closing verse.
Outside of the emotionally exhausting subject matter spread across Psychodrama, the main thing that Dave brings to the table is bars and while some of them are clever and some of them are stupid, it cannot be disputed that Dave lyricism is insanely creative across this project. On one side of the spectrum you have bars like "I don't wanna do you and I like i'm in Leicester skippin' my lectures" which are quite honestly just great, but then you have bars like "You're a gem and I aint even talkin' about the star sign" that are just so stupid that I can't decide whether it's fantastic or cringy. One thing that is obvious however is just how fantastically talented Dave is as tracks like 'Black' and 'Screwface Capital' are easily some of the best music coming out of the UK at the moment, offering insights into the less-glamorous side of the hip-hop lifestyle, as Dave uses Psychodrama to open his life to the public, showing the wide-ranging repercussions of mental health no matter how famous you are or how happy you appear to be.
Listen to the album in full below: