Santan Dave is one of the UK’s best artists and despite his age, only being 23, he’s been a staple of UK rap for years. He first appeared on the scene at the age of 16 with various freestyles popping up on YouTube. From this young age, Dave went on to achieve bigger and better things and today he is one of the most popular artists in the UK and is making waves all over the world. He’s won a MOBO, a Brit and even a Mercury Award. Before you take in his second studio album, We’re All Alone in This Together, here are 11 essential Dave tracks you need to listen to.
This iconic grime riddim cemented Dave and AJ Tracey as two of the best upcoming stars in the UK scene. The track sees the guys spar over the iconic Ruff Sqwad “Pied Piper” instrumental, and saw AJ and Dave trade fast flows and hard-hitting bars in what became one of the biggest rap anthems in the UK in 2016.
This tune was causing a stir on the net months before it was even released. Dave shared a snipped of him blasting the tune in the back of a car with this boys and it set the internet alight. There were calls for Dave to drop the “drill tune” on tweets and instagram comments in the ensuing months, until Dave finally gave the fans what they were asking for. “Paper Cuts” sees Dave traverse the Ghosty production with ease, as he brings his intellectual lyricism to the drill plane.
“Hangman” was released in 2018 after Dave received backlash for a series of tweets that he made that were related to bringing stop and search checks back after the murder of young black model Harry Uzoka. The track sees Dave delve into the realities of street life, how social media can warp people’s understanding. “Hangman” saw a transparent Dave connecting with his audience on a personal level, and the sombre piano instrumental with the added jazz chords towards the end of the track courtesy of Nana Rogues, made the track resonate even further with fans.
On “Wanna Know” Dave showcased he was much more than just a standard MC. This slower more melodic banger showcased Dave’s versatility from early, as he provided us with smooth vocals, while riding the beat from 169 and Fraser T Smith.
Dave doesn’t hold back on the bars either, delivering them with his signature conviction, taking light shots at his enemies. “Wanna Know” became one of Dave’s most iconic songs, even catching the attention of Drake who jumped on the remix.
“Black” was the first single from Dave’s then upcoming 2019 album Pyschodrama. The mellow, piano based instrumental was produced by Fraser T Smith and sees Dave rapping about racial and social inequality and delving into what black people go through in all walks of life. On this track, Dave essentially described what it means and what it feels like to be black. The incredible impact the track had was highlighted by Dave’s powerful performance of the song at the 2020 BRIT Awards.
“Funky Friday” ft Fredo
“Funky Friday” sees Dave join forces with Fredo for what became one of their most successful songs ever. Amassing over 120 million streams on Spotify alone, and becoming Dave and Fredo’s first #1 single. It also became the first song by a British rapper to peak at number one on the UK Singles Chart as a lead artist since Tinie Tempah’s “Not Letting Go” featuring Jess Glynne in 2015. Interestingly, Fredo revealed that “Funky Friday” was recorded during one of his final Tables Turn studio sessions.
“Location” ft Burna Boy
“Location” was a song that took the UK and the world by storm in summer 2019. Another song from Psychodrama, this song showcases Dave at his highest, giving off full party and function vibes as he flexes his lavish lifestyle and carefree yet confident attitude. Burna Boy comes through with melodic vocals on the catchy chorus, completing the light-hearted, feel good vibes of the track. The song was a huge commercial success going 2x platinum and gaining over 230 million streams on Spotify.
“JKYL + HYD“
This was Dave’s first official single and showcased the incredible potential he possessed. The high tempo instrumental complete with a mellow vocal sample was produced by 169 and saw Dave spit heat for 4 minutes straight.
His confident, aggressive delivery displayed his conviction and hunger as he rapped about the ups and downs of his life at the time, as well as what it was like being in the ends. This first single demonstrated Dave’s elite talent from early.
“Samantha” saw then rapidly growing artists Dave and J Hus come together to make a UK classic. The track was produced by JAE5, and features Dave’s finesse on the piano as well as on the bars.
Filled with iconic, quirky bars like “Quickly stop off at the off-license/Bossman let me get a two-two drink” and “Two young Gs, arms out, nobody move, you can get stuck in the mud” as well as Dave’s stellar performance on the chorus, this track went down in UK rap history.
In 2015, a then 16-year-old Dave made his debut appearance via the platform [email protected], introducing himself to the world in a spectacular fashion. Dave dropped gritty lyrics with aggressive conviction, his delivery here showcased his hunger and desire to take the rap game by force. The freestyle is full of wordplay, as we get a small look into Dave’s life through his intricate storytelling ability.
A song from his 2017 EP Game Over, “No Words” was produced by Steel Banglez and saw Dave call on MoStack for what became a classic motive banger. The track sees Dave and MoStack exchange bars about beef, fake yutes and their female problems. With MoStack dropping many quotable lyrics, and Dave providing us with an incredibly catchy chorus, the release of this track helped propel Dave to super stardom.