One thing about humans is that we all very much live in our own heads. It’s so easy to exist within our own comfortable realities, doing good deeds and bad deeds and at the end of the day, sleeping our issues away.
That is easy to do, until you are met with cold truth. Truth that is objective. Truth that is real. Truth that really doesn’t care for your feelings. Dave, the gifted 19-year-old rapper from South London is uniquely able to communicate that truth and wastes ‘no words’ in flagrantly @ing you and me. Even though there are only 7 songs on his latest album, many more stories are told.
Within “Game Over” the album, Dave is engulfed in an uncensored conversation about life on road and his struggles with love and lust. Speaking on our insecurities can make many men, especially in ends, shudder with fear. Our toxic masculinity dictates that our feelings are to be kept under the tightest of wraps and yet Dave manages to resist this impulse to casual violence, sexually extravagance and materially obsessed lyrics. This is not from some fake deep, intellectualism but because within the context of grime, drill and UK rap, Dave is a lyrical maverick who has made a tale that if you’ve ever been young in ends, then you can relate to.
‘How I Met My Ex’ was a beautiful, yet bitter pill to swallow. Love is hard, tricky and it is impossible to see clearly when tears cloud your vision. And that’s how this track makes you feel, with a basic piano instrumental providing the backing for Dave to tell a captivating story about his experiences with love. The song was powerful and just as Dave felt insecure when ‘his girl’ was around other rappers, everyone can relate a little, to the unease felt when you truly love someone. With “all the little things they do that put the fear in you,” Dave remarks upon all the basics of romance that get lost as time passes. Dave knows he’s not the best boyfriend and fears that another man could do what he isn’t. “What if he actually replies? What if he phones her too?” This song was far too loud and way way too real to ignore.
Age is irrelevant for Dave, and despite being just 19 and one of the youngest on the scene, opps and other haters are trying to cause him trouble. That’s fine though, ‘No Words’ is proof that Dave is on whatever beef they’re looking for. This upbeat tune highlights the talents of both Dave and MoStack linking up to make a club-friendly banger. Let’s not pretend Dave is chilling though, those “fake youts” are still getting called out. “Where’s your army? Where’s your mandem?” Ah it’s peak.
“A question for the new prime minister. How’d you have a heart so sinister?” Austerity, poverty, inequality, racism and police brutality. Funding for military invasions in poor brown countries while the NHS starves. Individually each issue is a significant flaw of life in Britain and the behaviour of our leaders. But together, it becomes yet more disgusting that the fifth largest economy in the world can cause such suffering alongside unimaginable wealth for the elite.
On Question Time, Dave is relentless, questioning and interrogating the major issues affecting the country and narrating the stories that are being ignored. On a slow electronic beat, Dave expresses dismay at the unfairness of life for working class people. “I just find it f**ked that the government is struggling, to care for a person that cares for a person.” I genuinely felt something listening to this tune, I mean it’s not often that artists in such explicit and obviously angered language, talk about he inequalities and injustices present in our society. And Dave is right, we should be angry. Rapping about Grenfell and the horrible imagery of “How you choke on the smoke when you’re struggling to breathe, The glow from the fire, The panic when you hear all the sirens , The crackling, the popping and the muffled-out screams.” Horrifying to hear. But poetry.
I really wasn’t ready for the electronic beat on “Game Over”, the titular track on the album. Game Over was the combative introduction to Dave’s world, acknowledging the various ways people tried to “play” him. Unsuccessfully, I should add. Why? Because Mr. Santan believes in using his ‘Ls’ to elevate, dismissing all the accusers stating he’d changed as missing the point, he’s the “same player, different game.” Like many lads, Dave is all about his footy and the song is seasoned with footy references, that I shamefully didn’t get, though “I made the girl come round and go low, Now I just call her Kanté” sounds real romantic.
Dave knows about making relatable tunes and his efforts to secure that “lightie looking like a wifey”, are chronicled on Calling Me Out, track 4 on the album. No matter what big age you are or what status you’re at; F-boys (fraud is a lifestyle right?) will always be F-boys “I smiled when she pulled out her Barclays, Sorry, it’s the 419 in me,” Instagram captions for days.
“Just remember when the girl’s playing hard to get, there’s probably another person that she’s trying hard to get.” You read that too quickly, please read it again. Dave uses lyrics purposefully to put our every niggling subconscious feeling on a song. “My 19th Birthday” is a narrative of maturity and journeying from an adolescence to an adulthood characterised by money, sex and keeping up his hustle. Dave is a youth with “different types of problems” to the rest of us. With “corporate tax on this cash that I’m making/And at the same time I need to vanquish my paigons.” It’s really no joke the stress that comes with success and the balancing act of transcending the roads but maintaining your authenticity as a person.
Dave’s album is a proud and ambitious project that proves the talent and creative vision of his artistry. Managing to touch on themes of love and lust, of injustice and inequality and consistently capturing the experience of being young in ends, it’s a serious contender for the most realistic, relatable grime(ish) album of recent times. On ‘Game Over’, Dave stops playing with singles and drops his debut album. He proves the road lifestyle isn’t actually so distant from the romantic one. Who would have thought it?