UK’s man of the moment right now Dave recently released his debut album, Psychodrama, after a string of impressive guest appearances on tracks such as Giggs’ Peligro and Headie One’s 18HUNNA. Dave also made history with the chart-topping Funky Friday ft. Fredo. Andrew and John-Paul from SICKA VISION will be providing their insights and opinions in their review of Psychodrama.
1. What was your first impression of the album?
Andrew: Pretty good I would say – I was very impressed by Dave’s precision with his punchlines and his ability to paint very vivid pictures. Burna Boy’s feature on Location and J Hus’ feature on Disaster really stood out to me. I also think the first track Psycho, is an incredible opener.
John-Paul: That it would tell a story. I wasn’t sure whether or not it would be Dave’s story however I knew that it would be something that I could relate to. I thought all the songs would be slow and heartfelt too just because the word “Psychodrama” insinuates a serious discussion/topic and I knew that Dave would try and convey it through the sounds of his songs.
2. Did the album live up to your expectations?
Andrew: I expect a lot from Dave so I don’t think it completely lived up to my expectations but perhaps I was expecting too much. I think with more refinement and better beat selections the album would have been stellar.
John-Paul: In all honesty, Dave surpassed my expectations. He was able to tell stories through his music so perfectly. I was able to imagine scenes just from his words, and descriptions were crisp. I mentioned that I thought the album was going to contain just slow heartfelt songs but he proved me wrong. ‘Voices’ was a fantastic way to indicate the album coming to a close. It was uplifting as he acknowledged his heartbreak and his negative emotions. Again, Dave’s stories are amazingly laid out in his lyrics and that’s what I was looking forward to and I have been blown away.
3. Which song do you relate to the most and why?
Andrew: Personally, I would say ‘Psycho’. The song is really a lyrical, sonic and thematic journey of a young black boy growing up in London. The good, the bad and the ugly. The production compliments the journey Dave takes us on perfectly. We see the different personas of Dave clashing with each other for the spotlight; the brash, arrogant and flamboyant Dave and the insecure, vulnerable and manic Dave. Very relatable.
John-Paul: ‘Purple Heart’ because the first verse talks about how people are distant emotionally and I used to be emotionally detached so that I would avoid feeling pain. In addition, I know a few people that I have been accused of being detached too. I’ve tried to feel emotion more but the trust issues that Dave talks about are what I feel within myself. Furthermore the line “you’ve had many boyfriends but you’ve never had a man” resonates with many girls that I know. They’ve tried and tried again to find the one but it never works.
4. Which songs were your favourite and why?
Andrew: Psycho was definitely one of them for me for the reasons I’ve already mentioned. Streatham is undoubtedly one of the stand out tracks on the album and probably one of Dave’s best songs ever. The hook, the visuals and the lyricism are of the highest quality. Disaster is another one that I loved because hearing Dave and J Hus back-to-back on a track was riveting. Both of them delivered but I think J Hus slightly outshined Dave. Don’t get me wrong though, they both did their thing. Screwface Capital gets an honourable mention as well.”
John-Paul: I have two – ‘Location’ as Burna Boy is my one of my favourite Afrobeat artists so Dave having him feature automatically made it a win for me. There’s a subtle hint of Africa in the song which really stands out to me as it’s the one constants in the song. Lastly, Dave and Burna Boy are very different artists in terms of their genres however, ‘Location’ brings them together perfectly. It’s a fantastic cross between the two sounds.
My second favourite song is ‘Black’. As a black young man in 2019, we all face trials and tribulations. The song depicts everything perfectly. The music video was amazing and I was actually in shock the first time I watched it. He really raises Black Excellence to the roof and for that it gets my praise.
5. Which song was your least favourite and why?
Andrew: For me, Voices is by far the weakest song on the album. Sonically, it really doesn’t fit the rest of the songs and I think Dave comes off as awkward and generic. He could have dealt with the concept of Voices in a much more intelligent, introspective manner.”
John-Paul: This may sound a bit cheesy but I don’t actually have a least favourite. I’m a person who likes to listen to different songs depending on my mood. Like when I want to show I listen to afrobeats, ‘Location’ is definitely going to be added to my playlist. When I want to write, I like to listen to songs that have a heavy bass – ‘Voices’ and ‘Streatham’ will stimulate my creativity for sure. All of the tracks fit into at least one of my moods and for this Dave hasn’t really made a song that’s bad. However, I think ‘Location’ would be better a Burna Boy solo…
6. Favourite line and/or verse and why?
Andrew: “My G just came out for a shooting and Ramz done a madness charting, so them man got something in common ‘cos trust me both of their tings been barking.” Instant reload. The whole of Streatham is full of quotables to be honest. Also the line “you’re either a lamb or you’re Hannibal” on Screwface Capital resonated with me, I just love the reference. I think my favourite verse is probably either Dave’s verse on Psycho because of his ability to convey his emotional state of mind so clearly and poetically, or his verse on Screwface Capital purely because of the bars.
John-Paul: “THE BLACKER THE KILLER THE SWEETER THE NEWS” – this line hit me for so many reasons: 1) the obvious likeness to “THE DARKER THE BERRY THE SWEETER THE JUICE”. It’s kind of expected because Dave is known for his amazing word play and rhymes. 2) It made me think about all the killings that have been happening in London and how in the last few years, the black youth have been antagonised by the media. Dave captured the increasing numbers of crime in the black youth in a few lines. Personally I find that mesmerising because it made me think. Which leads me on to my next point. 3) Dave made me think that perhaps the media likes to put these killings at the forefront of the media to make the news interesting and sweet, not to raise awareness of the killings and the increasing dangers in our streets. Dave translates his trauma and makes it something that the Black community can relate to which is what we need in these tough times.
7. Best feature and why?
Andrew: J Hus has to take the win here, sorry Burna Boy. Hus’ versatility and delivery on the Disaster stands out more than any other feature.
John-Paul: J Hus!! He’s been in prison for what feels like ages. This feature is like a little taster and teaser for what’s to come now he’s released. Also ‘Disaster’ sounds so smooth because their voices blend so well. If they were to make a joint album, it would not be boring.
8. Rating out of 10 and overall opinion
Andrew: I’m gonna give it a 7/10. I think there are some genuinely incredible moments on the album. Whether Dave is in storytelling mode and is painting vivid pictures or he’s giving us straight bars, his talent and lyrical precision cannot be denied. However, I feel like most of the beats aren’t memorable, his flow can be very one-dimensional at times and tracks such as Voices and Environment are really just filler. Also, the replay value of the entire album is questionable. Still though, the highs most certainly outweigh the lows and this album has definitely made Dave a UK superstar.
John-Paul: 8/10. I think that this part of a good start to Dave’s year. The anticipation was high and he satiated out hunger for a album that gave hope. It starts off a bit sad and mellow but the features of J Hus and Burna Boy give us a little glimpse of hope until ‘Voices’ and lifts us up. Also, the little snippets of counselling sessions tackle the stigma around mental health in black men. They scream “It’s okay to see a therapist” and I’m sure there is someone out there that will reach out for help after listening to this album. He’s given us hope for the summer too and I hope that the British music scene just goes onwards and upwards from here.