South London’s prolific young artist Dave stunned us all with his outstanding debut studio album Psychodrama back in March. Now he has been crowned as this year’s Mercury Prize winner for the LP, we thought it would be a good idea to reflect on eleven of the hardest bars from Psychodrama, and with such inspired lyricism coming from him, this was no easy feat.
With Dave just scooping Album of the Year at this year’s BRIT Awards, you can re-visit some of the coldest lyrics from the project below.
“But if you’re looking for a psycho, you got one
I thought I had a screw loose but I lost one
Ninety-nine problems, money, it’s not one
My currency’s Kenyan, that’s in it for the long run”
This lyric comes from the opening track “Psycho”, a metaphor that illustrates the incredible maturity that Dave exudes; a maturity which makes him stand out from the rest of his peers. This is a maturity that he had to develop due to the strenuous circumstances of his upbringing which although has made him psychotic, it has helped shaped the mercurial talent that stands before us today.
Unlike many young artists, Dave knows better than to be thrivelous and blow all his earnings on silly things, but rather, like an Kenyan athlete at the Olympic games, his money is going to be there for the long run.
“We just live and maintain, we on the same streets but we don’t play the same game, you’re the type to get caught and go play the blame game, you should be ashamed, if I stick to my heart I’ll put my stick to your brain“
When the track-list dropped this was most certainly the track that everyone was most excited to hear. With J Hus’ incarceration there has been significant clamour for new material from the East London native, the collab certainly didn’t disappoint.
We’ve become accustomed to hearing The Hustler on wavey tip, and many may have forgotten just what an accomplished rapper he actually is; the back and fourth between the two lyrical juggernauts really showcases Hus’ lyrical prowess.
“Mitcham Lane, that’s Streatham and Tooting
I’m in East tryna link my girl
‘Cause I’ve got a baby a cross Bow like Cupid”
Yet another sick piece of wordplay, there are two links which make the Cupid reference sick. Firstly Cupid is the God of love and desire in mythology, which matches the rest of the lyric about this chick he wants to see in an area of East London.
This particular girl lives in a part of East where Dave will need to pass through or “cross”, Bow (which is of course the birth place of grime). Cupid is famed for carrying a bow and arrow, which Dave alludes to. This is just one of many hard double entendres that Dave treats us to throughout the album.
“It’s been fifteen minutes since me and her fucked and I’m sayin’ “What you still in the house for?”
Girls say I’m rude but they won’t never leave, ’cause you know the jab right like southpaws”
Flippin eck Dave. Not sure what’s ruder here, his nonchalant attitude to women? Or this insane bar? In boxing, a Southpaw is someone who is left handed. When you box you jab with your weaker hand to try and create an opportunity to land a haymaker with your favoured hand, thus a southpaw will jab with their right.
However what Dave really means here is he pressed the ting so well, she will never leave him, or in other words his jab was right. This bar appears on “Screwface Capital”, a proper sick metaphor from this talented wordsmith.
“N****s saw keys and went to trial for shottin’
I saw keys, learned to play, and made thousands from it”
This bar appears on the albums eighth track “Environment”, and like the first bar on this list it also displays Dave’s mature attitude. The wordplay here is on the word keys, the first use meaning keys or kilos of drugs. However, in its second use Dave means the keys of a piano, the instrument he learnt to play which led him to a life of music instead of a life on the streets. Dave is currently a grade seven pianist, one shy of the highest grade possible.
“My ex-girl want to shoot a cover for Vogue
Which is pretty ironic ’cause she’s top of the range
If any one of you take a shot on a track
My niggas come back and put a shot in your frame”
Another bar that appears on the opener “Psycho”. Everyone knows the iconic fashion magazine Vogue, but Dave flips it’s meaning with the next line when he says top of the Range.
The irony being that the highly endorsed car manufacturer Range Rover has a model called the Vogue.
“The blacker the berry the sweeter the juice
A kid dies, the blacker the killer, the sweeter the news”
This is a piercingly and brutally honest bar which depicts the media bias against black people. It appears on the album’s third track “Black” which was released weeks prior to the album, and also has some crazy visuals. There’s a bit of clever wordplay here as Dave alters the traditional saying, but the strength of a lyric sometimes lies in its truth and sentiment rather than it’s cleverness as is the case with this one.
“My G just came out for a shooting
And Ramz done a madness, charting
Say that man got something in common
‘Cause trust me, both of their tings been barking”
This is another bar off of “Streatham” and is another double entendre. Ramz’s ting is from Barking as he has told us many a time on his hit track “Barking”, where as Dave’s boy has a different ting, a strap, that he had also been “barking”. Definitely one of the most quotable bars from the album.
“You think my work is art, and I think you’re a work of art,
Asked her “can you do it like the last time?”, she said I can sir and I aint talking bout the star sign“
“Purple Heart” is another great track where Dave pens a letter to the object of his affection. Lyrically throughout the album there is so much continuity for the keen listeners amongst us. This lyric which closes out the track, continues the horoscope theme which Dave sets in motion at the beginning of the tune.
“I aint got a tattoo anywhere near my arms,
‘but best believe on my sleeve is where I wear my heart, Do you know how easy it is to be a sinner? How many losses you need before you can be a winner?“
“Drama” the last track on this future classic, which Dave has saved some of his deepest lines for. Dave doesn’t need the lyrical wizardry, the wisdom emanating from these lines is more than enough.
“Blame my environment cause it made me a sicko,
furthermore I should bring that bitch down to Streatham,
and then make her spend a day in the veil (vale) like a widow,
Kiddo, we seen swords longer than a limo,
My bros are are blacksmiths like Jaden and Willow”
The opening track, “Psycho” took Dave three weeks to write, it’s little wonder then that the track is absolutely jam packed full of lines. Dave once again comes through with crazy wordplay for us to decipher which gives the album insane replay value.
And there we have it, 11 of Dave’s hardest bars from Psychodrama. There will one million percent be a ton of bars that were just as worthy as the ones we selected, and nothing less would be expected from a man with such incredible penmanship.
Be sure to check out our breakdown of the hardest bars from his second album We’re All Alone In This Together right here.