Halfway through performing How I Met My Ex off his latest EP Game Over, Dave begins to choke up. His signature assured and calculated flow is interrupted by a high pitched squeal. With no hype man and no backing track to pick up the lines he struggles to deliver whilst fighting through the tears, he covers his eyes from the crowd and continues to perform the rest of the nearly eight minute long track. Dave remains determined to deliver his message, no matter how many eyes currently lay on him. Its a refreshing performance of sacrifice from a 19 year old rapper who understands how pivotal the platform he occupies has already become.
One quick glance round the sold out crowd in Bristol and its clear Dave’s message has struck a chord with the younger generation. As groups of teenagers shuffle round eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Streatham rapper, a mix of current and popular tracks from the UK scene circulate around the speakers. Everyone remains unfazed, eyes fixated to the front of the stage. Dave has cemented a space adrift from the current influx of UK Grime and Rap, and a fanbase that is only interested in what the mononymous Dave has to say. Racing onstage to Game Over, the lyrics “Nothing changed here, same player different game” ring loud and clear. Having been just over a year since receiving a Drake co sign, Dave has hollowed out a path that no co sign could create. The Drake-less version of Wanna Know has the entirety of the crowd singing along.
With a catalogue that ranges from lengthy monologues to pounding street anthems, Dave approaches each track with equal ferocity. Versatilely is one of his biggest strengths. Whether he’s addressing the current state of national politics or rapping about stunting on an ex, each line plays an equal role in growth of Dave as a role model. Its quite the sight to witness a group of teenagers all rap along to a politically charged breakdown of national affairs, all whilst in the midst of adolescence. Its clear it means as much to the crowd as it does to Dave. Catching his breath he shouts “The fact you can listen to me rap about politics for seven or eight minutes means so, so much to me.”
Throughout the entire performance Dave makes every issue feel as intimate as the last. Whether he’s addressing family tragedy or teenage angst, everything is relative. With no backing track Dave spits every syllable of every track. There is no inclusion of a hype man and his DJ remains voiceless throughout. It’s in small details like these that show Dave really cares, and that he wants you to care too.
Words: Jacob Roy