Music

A track-by-track guide to the powerful lyricism of Dave’s album Psychodrama

© James North/Red Bull Content Pool
Written by Laura Khamis
Dave is one of the UK’s most gifted lyricists. His highly anticipated LP sees him express both sharp wit and raw emotion.
Over the last few years, 20-year-old Streatham artist Dave has stunned the UK rap scene numerous times – from his now-legendary Bl@ckbox freestyle, to 2016’s Six Paths EP, his applauded political outpour in Question Time and collaborations such as the hit Samantha with J Hus. Dave has long seemed destined for stardom. Early on his career, he caught the attention of Drake who released a remix of his track Wanna Know. In 2018 his collaboration with Fredo, Funky Friday, co-produced by Dave himself, dominated the charts as the UK’s number one single.
Giving us an insight into what to expect for long-awaited album Psychodrama, Dave recently released one of his most strenuous, uncensored and enlightening tracks so far, Black, highlighting the burden of history and present mistreatment that the UK black community has endured. Psychodrama is an oscillation between some of his lowest moments and exultant memories, narrated by a voice that dramatises the character of a therapist.
So to celebrate the release of Psychodrama, here are some specially selected lyrics to educate you, make you shed a tear or raise a smile.
1. "It’s like I’m happy for a minute then I’m sad again / Until my fans, the reason I could get to this / You’re the drug, my instrumental, my therapist"
Song: Psycho
Dave ends his first track on the album with a heart-felt commemoration to his loyal fanbase that has supported him during some of the darker times in his career.
2. "Man are dead or in jail, that’s useless / Tell a yute 'If you've got a brain then use it'"
Song: Streatham
A call out to all the younger individuals of our generation, Dave reminds others to stay smart and avoid the downfall that some of his peers have been drawn into.
3. "A kid dies, the blacker the killer, the sweeter the news / And if he's white you give him a chance, he's ill and confused / If he's black he's probably armed, you see him and shoot"
Song: Black
A fearless track in its entirety, in these bars Dave explicitly addresses the corruption dominating the media as it continues to paint a distorted image of black teens, also highlighting the hypocrisy in its coverage of white killers as well as the dangerously prejudiced attitudes of some police.
4. "I can’t even lie, you’re a gem in I ain’t even talking ‘bout the sign"
Song: Purple Heart
Only one out of many examples of Dave’s inexplicable word play and skilful innuendos as he describes his desired female as a gem in reference to the star sign Gemini.
5. "Far from the rest but I’m far from the best / Life is a lesson, I’m passing a test"
Song: Location ft. Burna Boy
A self-reflective moment where Dave points out his authenticity but ongoing journey towards his end goal and the many encounters life brings about. Even at his stage of success, he states he still has a long way to go; a way of thinking that we should all adopt.
6. "I know people wearing Rollies doing life in can / Isn't that ironic that they couldn't find the time to plan?"
Song: Disaster Ft. Jhus
There are people in prison with high quality watches. Dave points out the tragic symbolism – if they’d taken more time to consider the potential consequences of their actions, freedom would have been a much greater luxury.
7. “One eye on my opps two eyes on my friends / cause at least with my opps man knows their intentions”
Song: Screwface Capital
Keep an eye, or two as Dave says, on your friends as they can turn out to be the closest enemy to you and betrayal is harder for foresee.
8. “The scene turnt on me, people tried to ruin me/ where most would see a problem, I’m seeing the opportunity / to drop a freestyle and kill them n***as that were booing me”
Song: Environment
Dave speaks on being discouraged in the early stages of his career. It was these very moments that encouraged some his best freestyles.
9. “This shit's awful, no matter what culture it isn't normal / Men try and twist it, make it seem like it's your fault”
Song: Lesley Ft. Ruelle
In this intense and moving 11 minute track, Dave details a story of domestic abuse and betrayal from a close friend bringing awareness to the struggles women endure.
10. “Never had no pot to piss in / Made so many wrong decisions / ’Til I fell in love with optimism”
Song: Voices
A tough start in life led Dave down some bad paths, but hope has put him back on the right track.
11. "I learn over time, separation issues I describe / Are probably the reasons that I struggle feeling anything / I ain't got a vision of a marriage or a wedding ring / It's world domination in music or it ain't anything"
Song: Drama
In this final track of the album, Dave speaks about the incarceration of his brother – who appears on the song via recorded phone calls. With greater understanding of his psyche, Dave connects both his steely-eyed worldview and ambition to losing family members in his early life.
Like Red Bull Music on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @RedBullMusicUK
Listen to our Best UK Rap and Grime Spotify playlist