Location (feat. Burna Boy)
Disaster (feat. J Hus)
Lesley (feat. Ruelle)
Making his studio-album debut, British Rapper Dave storms onto the scene with an honest and heartfelt album full of powerful lyrics and clever wordplay. With thematic relevance and a hard-hitting look at life in general, Dave spits raw intensity across the breadth of his album, topping it off with an amazing crescendo in ‘Lesley’.
Before we get there though, the album opens with an interview sketch with a therapist who informs us of the time and date. From here, Dave begins the album with ‘Psycho’, an introduction to his hard-hitting rap style and simple piano-driven melodies. The tracks continue through to ‘Purple Heart’ which ends with another sketch involving the therapist to reflect on what we’ve listened to thus far.
The album itself then continues along, spinning its web of tight, but somewhat simple, compositions before reaching the crescendo of the album, ‘Lesley’. This 11 minute track is quite simply stunning. Telling a story about a lady named Lesley, Dave takes us on a lyrical journey, shining a light on toxic masculinity, abuse and depression. All of this culminates in a shocking ending to the tale before being soothed over with the gorgeous vocals of Ruelle.
It was always going to be a tough ask for the final two tracks to close out the album after the excellence of this track but ‘Voices’ is particularly problematic. It attempts to showcase a lighter side to Dave’s persona that doesn’t quite nail its mark, especially after such a powerful song. It feels tonally inconsistent with a lot of the other material here too and unfortunately the British rapper doesn’t quite have the vocal range to carry the heartfelt singing segments.
With simple beats relying heavily on piano backing tracks, Dave falls back on his lyrical power to carry the album. For the most part this does work well and as a collective piece, Psychodrama does a wonderful job crafting a compelling and believable construction of Dave’s life. Through his words you really get a feel for the hardships he’s endured and the trials and tribulations that have moulded him into the rapper he is today.
The way this album sounds like a therapy session is a particularly interesting idea too and really helps with the storytelling that shines through. Ultimately though it’s the raps and wordplay that make this album as impressive as it is. There’s a very clever use of words here and the subtle differences in tempo and key changes throughout the different tracks really helps elevate this one.
As a debut piece, Psychodrama is well worth checking out although the simplistic melodies and over-use of the piano does hold this back from being a more memorable album overall. Despite this, Psychodrama does well to reinforce the talent in the British rap scene, with ‘Lesley’ a serious contender for one of the best tracks of the year.