Psychodrama was the album where we sat back relaxed and deeped life a little more than usual. We’re All Alone In This Together? Music that throws you into the headlights of Daves scars and life.
Like many others, ‘Location’ was the first Dave song I truly knew the words to and served the summer of 2019 quite well. But during a pandemic, the summers were ruined and the music stopped flowing for a while. Albums were left on hold, Kanye’s Donda and Drake’s CLB finally got their release date and Dave’s album dropped at the perfect time.
Dave’s second album comes at a time of freedom. Where I, you and Sandra from next door aren’t forced to take that Tesco shopping trip to buy unnecessary purchases. The clubs are open and they’re gasping for new music to fill the last two years of confinement. But this album seems to be less about freeing and more about thinking. It's a story, a movie in the making and the life of his mum (Juliet).
Embodying a South London Shakespeare, Dave has created an album of soliloquies, speeches and acts. Its stories hold the weight that undeniably uplifts us out of our beds and makes us aim for bigger things. It’s more than an album but a story and artwork. Not to mention probably one of the best Dave has produced.
Like a good story, this album holds a beginning, middle and end. Its storytelling angles create a solid structure and lead us through the album. Much like Romeo and Juliet itself, Dave sets the scene with an eerie opening, mumbles and grumbles of anger in song 1. “We're All Alone,’ opens the album with a fickle and subtle ode to suicide, culture and the past.
The outro of the song is interesting in itself, a voicemail (classic hip-hop move) from a movie agent? This song is like the opening soliloquy of Romeo and Juliet; it's a song of memory, past tense and has a ‘live in the past’ kind of flow and to be honest, what comes next is suspected from Dave.
The party, dance and afrobeat style songs to follow are essentially act 1. ‘Verdansk’ so far the most popular track of the album holds a heavy snare beat and makes the perfect ‘shout these lyrics in the club’ vibe. But with a title that is literally a city from the game Call Of Duty the song is the anthem for any special ops agents on their mission (for imagination only.) This song is followed by Clash ft Stormzy which was the first song to be released off the album. Its popularity has died down but the ‘one’ repetition is one to get in your head and has been a festival favourite (sorry Headie.)
The next song is one of the best and most powerful collabs on the album. Featuring Fredo, Meeks, Ghetts and Giggs the follow and not to mention the lyrics are near perfection. It's a whole ‘fire in the booth’ setting and the gospel beat behind levels up the capacity of the song even further.
The next song is slower with a lighter beat but much heavier lyrics. ‘Three Rivers,’ features Theresa May as well as vocal news reports, first accounts and open discussions. This song debates the violence and change in the middle east as well as the tension between Britain and the Windrush generation. It highlights social issues deeper than the rapper himself but sheds a light on the truth. The outro of this song is another voicemail reading ‘the tide will tell me being black is an obstacle.' And followed by life advice about identity, it's one that makes us think ore.
We’ve come to the centre of the album, four songs each with a feature. WizKid, Boj, Snoh Aalegra and James Blake make these three songs about culture, partying and living. System featuring ‘Africa's biggest artist,’ has that ultimate Afrobeat style, bring the drink and we’ll bring the party type of vibe and it's not surprising it's one of the albums best songs.
However, ‘Lazaras’ (meaning God has helped) brings a vibration unmatchable. It brings politics, a genuine beat and an incomparable flow. Boj brings the Nigerian lyrics adding that spice to the song but Dave's flow on this one just projects his impeccable talent and it's a Culture Shift favourite. ‘Law of attraction’ produced by JAE5 is a slow-moving and easy listen to song. The Snoh Aalegra feature on this one fits perfectly with Daves love struck verses, definitely made for the girls.
The last feature song opens perfectly on the theme “who’s your Juliet? What's the dynamic between the two leads? I guess we’re all just looking for a happy ending somewhere.” ‘Both sides of a smile’ featuring James Blake brings back that eerie setting at the start of the album but this time with a stronger essence of pain. Dave uses the lyrics to the best of his ability and questions his own actions, process and life. And after verse 1 comes a huge change in lyrics. A female vocal spouting anger, hate and hurt leads elegantly but abruptly on the beat and is followed by a chord change. This song is different from the rest and closes the feature section flawlessly.
After those four very different and exciting songs it's predictable that Dave gives us a softer contradicting ending. He wants us to take something powerful from this album and really hones down what he is good at (piano and storytelling.) The next three ‘twenty to one’ ‘Heart attack’ and ‘Survivors guilt’ are the last act of this movie soundtrack. Juliet had found Romeo by now and the reality of death, life and love is coming to a close. Time is coming to an end and in ‘twenty to one feels a rush of reality and is three minutes of soft vocals, harder beats and fast spat lyrics. This song isn’t a stand out at all but adds to the story of the album.
The next two outro songs get us thinking. ‘Heart attack’ is the most anticipated of the album and is said to be a follow on from Daves previous song ‘Panic Attack.’It begins in a similar way, we have a heartbeat, sirens and news reports of crime. It's an awakening song and the first line is matched to that of ‘panic attack’ reading ‘I bet them boys think I'm panicking,’ it's special and takes us to Dave's past as well as previous music that his die-hard fans recognise instantly.
This song really highlights London's violence and the impact it can have. It also has relations to ‘Lesley’ found on Daves Psyscodrama album with mentions of suicide and domestic abuse. This seven-minute song ends acapella with Dave’s mum crying out for help. Next comes survivor's guilt, a song with a sampled beat and the last in the series for a reason. It's heavy on culture, love and heartbreak. Dave is one of the only UK rappers to be honest and truthful about his mental health and this song is a reminder that ‘we’re all alone in this together.’
The album for me hasn't lived up to Psychodrama but in all honestly, they’re completely incomparable. This album is NOT for us to listen to on the bus or on our way to work. It's an album to sit and listen to when we need it. Like Daves previous music it still carries that therapy session feel. The features could’ve been better but if WizKid is on the album we’ll take it. The best elements of this album come from the music, production and lyrical flow Dave has perfected. Dave has shown his acting prowess on the small screen and has the ability to create atmospheric music and brilliant storytelling. Don't be too surprised if we soon see Dave behind the camera on the big screen as a filmmaker.