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The Music Scoop

TARYN OKAMOTO • THE SPECTATOR

TARYN OKAMOTO • THE SPECTATOR

TARYN OKAMOTO • THE SPECTATOR

TARYN OKAMOTO • THE SPECTATOR

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Artist Spotlight:
U.K. Rapper Dave’s Debut Album “Psychodrama” is Gripping, Fiery, and Committed


Coming from Streatham, London, British rapper Dave released 11-track project “Psychodrama” in March of this year. “Psychodrama” is Dave’s first debut album and it’s definitely worth a listen. The album tells the rapper’s story via a therapy session that weaves in and out of the project. In a neat way, the session wraps up some tracks but begins as an intro dialogue on others. “Psychodrama” is deep and eerie but somehow manages to come across as easy to listen to. Dave dips into the subgenre of conscious rap as he talks about his struggles as someone who has supposedly “made” it in hip hop and what societal consequences have risen because of that.

TARYN OKAMOTO • THE SPECTATOR
TARYN OKAMOTO • THE SPECTATOR

The album starts with the strong opening track “Psycho” where we first hear a therapist stating the date and then asking Dave to open up about his issues during their session. After about 30 seconds into the track, Dave begins his verse and the song goes through different avenues of Dave’s life. It’s refreshing to hear how Dave explains that money isn’t everything and that there’s pain behind the life of seemingly happy people.

“Psycho” culminates on a powerful note with Dave saying, “You ever fall ‘sleep cause you don’t wanna be awake? In a way, you’re tired of the reality you face? If you’re thinking ‘bout doing it / Suicide doesn’t stop the pain, you’re only moving it / Lives that you’re ruining / Thoughts of a world without you in it, hiding.”

I find these lines really moving because while Dave is saying that he understands what it’s like to want to detach from reality and escape, he tells us that suicide doesn’t truly stop that pain but, rather, it advances it to other people and that very cycle of pain continues.

A couple other tracks that I really enjoyed off this album were “Black,” “Purple Heart,” and “Environment.”

Released as the first official single off “Psychodrama,” “Black” is a track that plays tribute to black culture, addressing certain misconceptions and stereotypes stored in Dave’s wordplay. From the lack of rich history that is taught in the education system to cultural appropriation seen in fashion and hairstyles, Dave lets us know that certain things people deem as acceptable in society should be reviewed twice when it comes to the purpose behind everything.

In “Purple Heart,” Dave seems to be talking about a love interest as he raps bars that have an emotional ring to them. One of my favorite lines from this song is, “You’re asking what it’s like to love, I told her love’s a game / You learn that love is pain, then learn to love the pain.”

I feel like people can relate to this set of lyrics because when it comes to love, I think we end up playing mind games with each other – whether we’re conscious of it or not. Personally, I don’t know much about love, but I believe Dave when he says that “love is pain” because one cannot experience such a deep feeling without also experiencing the feeling on the other side of the spectrum: pain. When he says “learn to love the pain” I think there’s an element of humble acceptance hidden in these words, as if Dave is saying that one must accept pain if they want to feel love at all, ever, in life. While the above lyrics are my favorite part of the song, I also deeply enjoy the outro when the therapist is speaking to Dave.

The therapist tells Dave, “I guess it’s important that you have someone you can trust / Especially in the position you’re in, and um… I think it’s a really good trait that you’re able to find positives / Despite some of the challenges, for a want of a better word, that you face.”

I don’t know if it’s the tone of his voice or the content of what he is saying – perhaps a little bit of both – but this bit of spoken word at the end of “Purple Heart” just feels comfortable. In fact, it feels like Dave’s therapist is speaking to each listener directly, telling him/her that it’s an admirable thing to preach positivity and surround yourself with people that you can trust.

In addition, the track “Environment” showcases Dave essentially commenting on his, well, environment. I enjoy the part where Dave says, “Where I’m from, everybody wants to make it out / But nobody wants to see somebody make it out.” It feels like from where Dave is from, there’s a cloud of fake support that he notices around him which gives off the illusion that people want to see him be successful. But when it comes down to it, these people don’t really have a strong interest in someone else’s well being and that’s the sad reality.

Once again, the back and forth dialogue between Dave and the therapist comes through towards the end of “Environment” when the therapist says, “So looking at it from another perspective, playing devil’s advocate / Considering you know you’re obviously becoming famous, so to speak / But you still deal with a lot of issues on a human level / Do you ever just sit and wonder about the stories behind the people you meet day by day? / Does it make you feel grateful, in a weird way, for your life and problems?”

As I mentioned earlier, there’s a certain ambiance about the therapist’s demeanor that comes across as extremely introspective to me, and at times I forget that he’s talking to Dave and not to Dave’s audience.

On another note, tracks like “Location” and “Disaster” have a more traditional musical structure to them, displaying flowy choruses and regular rhythms. While these are alright tracks, I feel like they deviate from the album and take us in an odd direction.

All in all, Dave’s “Psychodrama” is a solid project that I recommend to hip hop fans regardless of how familiar they are with British rap. I think Dave does a great job getting across his message to his audience while maintaining an air of authenticity throughout his delivery. Not to mention, the album cover is pretty dope as it showcases Dave’s head caught in blue flames.

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