People who have been reading this blog for a while may remember that I experimented with doing a regular thing on a Friday dubbed “#NewMusicFridays”, it was a short lived experiment that I only kept up for two weeks but I never wrote off the idea of writing more under the category of music, and so we come to this week’s Sunday post, which as you may have noticed is basically me writing about anything that takes my fancy whilst the content for Tuesdays and Thursdays is fairly rigid, this is done on purpose as I spent years just writing about videogames, which I still love to do, but that time really dampened my love of the medium for quite some time.
Back on topic then, here in the UK is an award called the Mercury Prize which is awarded to the best album released in the UK by a British or Irish artist or group. It’s not something I’ve historically paid alot of attention to, I normally see the nominations and tune out when they’re performers have never really grabbed me. However, this year IDLES’ “Joy as an Act of Resistance” was nominated, which I voted my favourite record of 2018, so I was paying it a little more attention this time out.
Needless to say, IDLES didn’t win, a grime artist by the name of Dave did, now is where alot of people will tune out, but please, don’t. Let me continue.
Dave came to my attention earlier this year when he performed at Glastonbury and dragged a fan up on stage to perform a song of his called Thiago Silva, the fan was chosen because he was wearing a Paris Saint-Germain replica shirt with Silva’s name and number printed onto the back, no body expected him to do this:
Grime isn’t a genre I’ve particularly paid alot of attention to, its not that I don’t like rap music, I really like stuff from the late eighties and early nineties that I was exposed to through my brother and have been really enjoying Netflix’s “Hip Hop Evolution”. I’ve just not spent much time listening to much UK rap if I’m being honest and thats maybe a mistake on my part.
So Friday I had to go shopping, and thats the day I read that Dave had won the Mercury Prize, so I loaded up Spotify and listened to his award winning album “Psychodrama” and I can certainly see why its been so well received as its an exceptional album that, like with IDLES’ effort, is something I feel everybody should listen carefully to the message of. “Black” smashes things out of the park when it comes to educating the world on what Dave (and possibly many more individuals) feels it is to be a black man in modern Britain. It’s not an experience I can speak off with any conviction beyond seeing from the outside the experiences of a friend when I was very young man. He was in a mixed race family, his mum and sister were both white (he had a different Dad to his sister, but she was never, ever his half sister) but his Dad was absent and as the older of the two children he was often left in a position of caring for his little sister and would walk her to school every day so his Mum could earn enough to put food on the table. Every day after school (we went to different schools, he went to a church funded school, I went to the local primary) he would knock for me and we’d play football or go out in the Den or he’d push me around on my Go-Kart. But he would always be checking on the whereabouts of his younger sibling (who’s Dad was also absent I might add). Throughout “Black” I pictured him and how at 5pm every day he’d’ rush home with his sister and I’d not see him till the following day whilst at weekends he would often be helping his mum shop or be at Sunday School.
The other track I’d like to draw attention to is “Lesley (feat. Ruelle)” which at 11 minutes is a very long rap record, its not an easy listen either as it tells a properly horrible story that, to my mind, tries to raise the issue of toxic masculinity (an issue that regular readers will be aware of me trying to address and come to terms with myself) and the damage it does to everybody with the story being told from the perspective of a woman in an abusive relationship. The story being told is horrific, but the lyrical content is astounding, when it came on I was just walking along but I soon found somewhere to sit and just listen to what Dave had to say, to go any further would be to spoil the experience, but its a song I think everyone should listen to.
Mental health, masculinity and ones identity are my interpretation of the themes that Dave has tried to weave into his content on Psychodrama, that the whole album is played out with the background of being part of an appointment with the narrator’s therapist really drives that home and, much like IDLES’ record, I feel this is a record that will go down as being one of the most important in modern history. It certainly deserves to, so give it a listen, I’ve made it easy for you by sticking the whole album from Spotify below for you.