Initial thoughts: UK rap needed an album like this and I’m glad that we have it.
Last Friday, the No Words rapper released his debut studio album entitled Psychodrama and since its release, critical and fan reception has been positive, with three tracks of the album in the top 10 of the UK Top 200 list on Spotify.
To begin, we should focus our attention on what sets this album apart from the rest of what the genre has to offer us right now. From the offset, it is clear that the album is intent on telling stories and adressing the issues that affect many throughout their day to day, bringing a fresh perspective to a genre that is often scrutinised for only showing a specific aspect of the culture.
But here, we have a young black man sharing experiences of racism, mental health, domestic abuse and overall, juggling relationships of all kinds and maintaining a sense of balance whilst coming to terms with fame and success. The album includes tracks with audio excerpts of a therapist/narrator, displaying an introspective side to Dave that we have previously seen on songs of his like ‘How I Met My Ex’ and ‘Question Time’.
Despite the honest and conceptual delivery of this album, Dave doesn’t lack when it comes to supplying the punchlines. He gives us tracks like ‘Streatham‘, a 21st-century ode to the place he grew up in. He delivers serious bars over the Nana Rogues produced beat, whilst providing his audience with an insight into his journey to where he is now. He brings us those tracks that show consistency and that will be appreciated by his fans, supplying features from J Hus and Burna Boy, whilst still evolving as an artist and giving newcomers a reason to listen to him.
Before the album was even released, Dave released ‘Black‘, the third track, in the midst of our anticipation, giving us an idea of what he’d be getting into with the full album. The track is controversial, as intended, and is what I would call an conscious and authentic celebration of blackness. In line with the theme of having difficult conversation, Dave brings us ‘Lesley ft. Ruelle’, an 11-minute tale of domestic abuse and its painful effects, and ‘Drama’, which begins with a phone recording with Dave’s brother who is currently incarcerated.
This body of work, constructed of three acts (Environment, Relationships and Social Compass), has been carefully curated and conceptualised in the way that gives us an eclective collection of tracks and sets a new precedent for UK rap.
After listening to this album, I thought of a recent discussion about whether the UK should have its own equivalent to a show like The Breakfast Club, in order to get those uncensored and real dialogues with our favourite UK artists. Some argued that everything we need to know about artists is in the music and perhaps Dave’s Psychodrama is an example of this.
MM Rating: 8.5 out of 10
You can listen to Psychodrama below, let us know your thoughts.