On Dave’s Sophomore “We’re Alone in this Together” – Emmanuel Daraloye
In 2019, UK rapper, Dave, released his debut album Psychodrama to both critical and commercial acclaim.
It chronicled his formative years, his single mother’s struggle and the psychological effects of his brother’s imprisonment on his mental health. On the opening track ‘Psycho’ he admitted to suffering from manic depression.
Psychodrama is a concept album hacking at healing at best or confrontation at least and its success hinges on introspection, vulnerability, astute penmanship, and an innate ability to be concise. The album won the Mercury Prize and Brit Award for Album of the Year in 2019.
Dave is the leading light of the disadvantaged blacks and a constant chart topper in the Best Rapper under 25 conversations. Surpassing a body of work like Psychodrama is a feat every artist aspire to and only a few achieve. Dave overcame the much talked about Mercury Prize Curse: the history of the award is resplendent with artists who disappeared off everyone’s radar practically the moment their name was announced as winner.
Produced by James Blake, P2J, Jae5, Kyle Evans, and also Dave, the album is more somber with the artist championing the voice of the oppressed and applauding black women for their tenacity. He sticks to the familiar melancholic piano chords on most of the tracks. One may say Dave talks rather than rap sometimes and allows songs to balloon into seven or nine minutes ever so often.
Dave explained how he came about the title in the opening song ‘We’re All Alone’: “I tell my fans we’re all alone in this together/ You can trust me, all the shit that you been feelin’, you’re feelin’ with me.”
He swiftly followed by revealing his encounter with a fan with suicidal tendencies: “I got a message from a kid on Sunday mornin’/Said don’t know what to do/And that he’s thinkin’ of killin’ himself.”
Wizkid and BOJ lend their vocals to ‘System’ and ‘Lazarus’, both tracks are fine Afro-Fusion exhibits. While Alte Daddy BOJ adopted Yoruba, Wizkid explored pidgin for his rendition. The vanity talk about party, women, and drink suffuse both songs, attesting to Dave’s facility in replicating the winning formula of ‘Location’ off Psychodrama.
‘Three Rivers’ snapshots the situation of Eastern European and Middle Eastern immigrants, the sampled news clips, and moody piano progression makes the track a darling of listeners.
On the 10 minute long ‘Heart Attack’, Dave details some personal struggles, he references London’s dangerous state, sacrifice from immigrants, and the identity crises they (blacks) battle with. His sobbing mom ends the track with a long drawn speech on her predicament to make ends meet. The minimal strings on this song reinforce the hidden pain beneath Dave’s lines.
‘In the fire’ intro sampled a gospel tune—Florida Mass Choir’s 1982 song ‘Have You Been Tried In The Fire’ four uncredited rappers—Fredo, Giggs, Ghetts Meekz Manny laced the track, they silt through topics like crime, wealth, and beef, triumph over societal and personal stumbling blocks. Dave crowned the superb effort with a last verse.
Stormy and Dave finally give fans the much-awaited collaboration via ‘Clash’, they bounce on each other’s energy, the lines are steeped in vain.
In the current short attention wave, Dave stuck to his terms by making the tracks longer than the norms. Rather than rap, he talks, and philosophies.
We’re All Alone In This Together ends with ‘Survivor’s Guilt’, a confessional take hinged on apologies from Dave to women. He promises to be responsible for black women and everyone who looks up to him.
Dave grew faster than his age, his impoverished childhood had a psychological and mental impact on him. He talks like a young boy in an old body, no wonder, listeners find it difficult to connect the age with the wisdom-filled lyrics he churns out.
At just 23 years old, Dave is close to being called one of the UK’s greatest. With the release of his second album, he is an inch closer to the honor. I reinforces Dave’s prodigy as an artist and it’s a further testament to his expected longevity in the music industry.