In an era where rap albums are becoming more and more bloated with short meaningless filler to beef up streaming numbers for quick injections of label cash and the hope of chart position, albums that attempt to really tackle societal ills without totally losing all radio or mainstream appeal are rare. 20 year London rapper David Orobosa Omoregie, better known as Dave, has done just that with his masterful new album Psychodrama.
Like many great albums, it weaves together a common thread throughout the entire work. Spoken word therapy sessions with a fictional or real therapist who comments on Dave’s progress over the past year as keep you tuned in as album progresses. Dave uses that as a jumping point on the poignant opener, "Psycho," baring his soul to the listener about his own mental health issues and thoughts of suicide. “Deeper insecurities, like, What if I don't leave a legacy,” he raps. At the end of the song he really hits with the line, “If you're thinking 'bout doing it, Suicide doesn't stop the pain, you're only moving it, Lives that you're ruining.” He wants the listener to think differently and examine their mental issues from a different perspective. This sort of hard thinking will be a constant on the album.
Often there will be two routes that rappers will take when examining their upbringing. They will look to unapologetically glorify the grind or look to shun it and find a path above. He does neither, accepting just how fucked up things can be for so many, in addition to the types of senseless things he did, but also noting that there can be another way to live your life. He isn’t blameless, but no one is in that environment – those that live it or cause it.
Rap always caused controversies, especially for status quo-oriented white folks, and Dave’s song “Black” did just that. It got some BBC Radio 1 play and some folks weren’t happy. So much so, that Annie Mac had to come out and defend the song, saying, “if you are genuinely offended by a man talking about the colour of his skin and how it has shaped his identity then that is a problem for you.”
It is about the black experience as his representation as a black Londoner and Nigerian. The song talks about the multi-cultural and ethnic experience of being black and the institutional racism that fails his people from slavery to colonialism, to the media and institutions built on those legacies today today. It also shows pride in his history and the great achievements that black people have accomplished over time.
“Black is so much deeper than just African-American, Our heritage been severed, you never got to experiment, With family trees, 'cause they teach you 'bout famine and greed, And show you pictures of our fam on their knees, Tell us we used to be barbaric, we had actual queens,” he raps.
The instrumentals aren’t booming trap instrumentals or solely stripped down beats. They bring in interesting melodies and often a melancholic mood to match the types of messages that he is tying to convey. His song with Burna Boy is more of a summery, dancehall record that could act as next single.
He continues his own self-examination and that of society, even through his collaborations with Burna Boy and J Hus. This gets you ready for the heavy “Leslie” that will force back into your seat. This is story-telling at its finest. The 11-minute song depicts an abusive relationship in brutal detail and how domestic violence is not an isolated problem that should be handled in the home, but rather by the community.
"You see this time that I'm taking out to tell you the story is more than a song or track, It's a message to a woman with a toxic man, I'm begging you to get support if you're lost or trapped,” he raps after telling the harrowing story of a pregnant women getting beaten by her boyfriend.
“This shit's awful, no matter what culture it ain't normal, Men try and twist it, make it seem like it's your fault, In that train full of people that you're taking, How many Lesleys are running from their Jasons?”
This is an album that doesn’t have the heavy bangers you may see from other London rappers or from those across the Atlantic who solely focus on that, but they aren’t sleepy rap songs either. He delivers powerful and poignant messages in ways that are gripping and vivid, making them impossible to turn away from. It rare to have an album that looks at society this way with this kind of a sound. Dave has done it with Psychodrama. Get the album here.