Top Tracks: Psycho; Black; Drama
For Fans Of: Kojey Radical; Bugzy Malone; AJ Tracey
What a way to kick off the album. A truly building track, Dave and the instrumentation become one as the listener is guided through the three main psyches that Dave will expand on throughout the album. Not only does he switch up his flow, content and delivery with each transition, but he does so whilst giving us plenty of his signature witty wordplay. He sounds a fierce kind of bare initially, an energy comparable to Stormzy’s ‘First Things First’ over spacey moans and rattling drums as he sharply spits: “Stop all the pain / Tell me how you stop all the pain”. This, as well as many other bars in this album, serve as a reply to a therapist character, whose conversational prompts appear between songs, and at the very start of this one. As the track progresses, the moans suddenly get chopped and screwed, the drums going bouncier as Dave gives us carefree and cocky vibes. Piano keys then smoothly glide the track into a more solemn, introspective direction as he admits deep insecurities. His honesty is clear as he admits his battle with depression and his need for therapy, in stark contrast to his assertion of not wanting to be “saved” or reveal scars at the start of the track.
The simple yet effective beat sounds amazing beneath Dave’s narration of the South London environment he grew up in where “Teachers was giving man tests / Same time the mandem were giving out testers”.
A single released before the album, ‘Black’ is a thorough, nuanced and emotive delve into what it means to be black in Britain today. It’s astounding how much Dave is able to cover in just this one track. He goes into social experience, heritage, history and media perception.
4. Purple Heart
The production goes super sweet here, complete with delicate backing vocals and an acoustic guitar, as Dave delivers a personal verse on his passionate yet mature approach to matters of the heart. The wordplay on this track is particularly impressive, centering around star-signs, a deck of cards, and chess to conjure up themes of chance, but also to accentuate Dave’s point at the start of the track: “You’re asking what it’s like to love, I told her love’s a game”.
More of a laidback pop tune, Dave delivers some of his most playful bars. He briefly touches on his relationship with his ends following his fame using some clever wordplay, a topic which comes up a few times throughout the album: “If you wanna see Ps you gotta pass on the ends (Ns)”.
This is probably one of the most talked about tracks on the album, which makes sense as it sees Dave and J Hus, two of the biggest voices in the UK rap scene, go back and forth. Each really hold their own, making for an absolute banger of a song. Hearing how on form J Hus sounds has me itching to hear whatever he offers up when released from prison.
7. Screwface Capital
The bars on this track are delivered with particular potency, over a simple piano refrain. The beat switch up is very mad, immediately incredibly attention-grabbing; a kind of jazzy, experimental, dancehall melody takes the track in a refreshingly different direction. - AR
Things get stripped back to a piano backing. The vibe is smooth but the subject matter sharp as Dave reflects on how he is viewed by others. He is cutting and resentful, explaining how his life and stardom is not as glamorous as it seems. “You see our gold chains and our flashy cars / I see a lack of self worth and I see battle scars”.
‘Lesley’ is 11 minutes long, an absolute behemoth of a track that follows a character caught in an abusive relationship. By focusing on this kind of narrative, Dave can really show off his ability to craft language and tell a story. Like a pictureless screenplay, the scene is set and the audience can only wait as the story unfolds.
Dave falls a little flat on this one, his singing lack the range a feature could have contributed. His bars see him personifying different emotions and, though wholesome, it also comes off as more surface level and innocent than what he has delivered on the album up until this point.
‘Drama’, though not exactly a bonus track, is a departure from the narrative of the album, a self-contained stream of consciousness addressed directly to Dave’s brother who is serving time in prison. The track starts and ends with a voicemail from Dave’s brother, where he speaks about how proud he is to have witnessed Dave’s rise to success. He also implies that Dave is destined to be the one to help him through his mental suffering (the therapy focused theme of the album is in fact inspired by the therapy Dave’s brother is receiving in prison). Arguably the most personal of a highly personal album, the verse on this song is divulging, moving and highly pensive. The bar that Dave ends with succinctly brings the entire album home: “I thank God for the pain because it made me this”.