Psychodrama was unlike many rap albums at the time; it never reached in spreading meaning, i.e. making tracks radio-friendly. In doing so, it makes these track’s repeat value misguided in hip-hop. It all comes from the stigma imparted on it. So it becomes hard to speak your truth when you know that fans are usually in it for the production, and the minimally few are there for the content/themes. Dave reaffirms his truth, opening more curtains to the outside world, on his sophomore album, We’re All Alone In This Together.
Throughout his career, Dave has focused on the external forces that can define your mental strength. These forces are Environment, Relationships, and Social Compass. He resurfaces these ideas as an effervescent breeze follows him and continues to impart conflict. On his new album, We’re All Alone In This Together, Dave finds relation with fans by seeing a correlation between each other’s demons. Opening with “We’re All Alone,” Dave recaps messages from fans who usually reach out due to Dave’s openness to fight the stigmas of mental health imparted by society. He tries to bring an immersive experience for his fans, allowing them to be understood.
As a way to show this, he has Daniel Kaluuya record vocal stories where he relates to Dave and his struggles. This is in part due to having a similar cultural background. Like his first album, this feels like a therapy session, except on a boat. And on this boat, it’s him and Daniel Kaluuya, talking about life. It’s what fills the canvas with vibrant lyricism and production.
Dave continuously weaves thought-provoking themes centered around what affects mental health. He raps about how it can affect a personal relationship, which he mentions in “Survivor’s Guilt.” He had an impasse in a relationship due to cultural differences from a thin veiled stereotypical glass that hides their truth. It comes after mentions of his ex, who he describes as white as ivory. Bringing these ideas is bold, considering depression has become a taboo subject in music. It doesn’t matter how they approach the subject; it matters on the impact it has on the listener. He does this by finding relativity with fans, who are around his age.
“Verdansk” and “Heart Attack” are two tracks that exemplify Dave’s artistic growth. He delivers unique metaphorical creations based around the allure of pop culture references. “Verdansk,” for example, uses referential analogies to dignify his status beyond music. As he has mentioned in past tracks, he is no stranger to the structured chaos, which comes from associating with the wrong people. “Heart Attack” is different from “Verdansk.” It’s a continuation of both style and themes of the track “Panic Attack” from his EP Six Paths. Like “Panic Attack,” the emotional levels of “Heart Attack” consistently boost as Dave spills his guts with everything running through his mind.
It’s like one of the final scenes of the film, Waiting, where the new guy lets everyone know his feelings about their character. The production mirrors the escalation one has in these moments, using the lack of instrumental sound to express the heart attack’s peak. Dave continues to rap, despite the attack flatlining in the final seconds. The tighter work on the album usually comes from this, as opposed to the more radio-friendly tracks.
Psychodrama had one issue: the track with crossover appeal, “Location,” didn’t leave an impact, despite fitting within the bigger picture. He slowly makes a difference on We’re All Alone In This Together. The most pop-appealing track, “System,” splits between two styles, one that’s focus on the themes, and the other tries too hard to breach into the pop-sphere with Wizkid’s infectious vocal performances. The track is a well produced and executed one, but it doesn’t feel. It isn’t like the lead single “Clash” or “Both Sides Of A Smile.”
“Clash” buoys itself along with the tracks with the infectious production, bringing jabs of grime, hip-hop, and electronic sounds. “Clash,” parallels Dave, and featured artist Stromzy, successes with their roots. “Both Sides Of A Smile,” on the other hand, isn’t like “System,” where Dave brings in too many ideas. Instead, it plays like a film scene where UK rapper ShaSimone performs as his girlfriend, detailing the underlying issue between them. Dave’s ideas are thought out and work as one near perfect unison, despite one track that feels off and another that is forgettable: “Law of Attraction.”
We’re All Alone In This Together isn’t much of an improvement from Psychodrama, but it stays afloat and matching with the brilliance of his debut. Dave is a little more reliant on the airwaves and it doesn’t deter his focus on quality “Clash” having a home within the construct of a concept album. The consistent curiosity that stems from Dave’s artistry comes from understanding his flaws, no matter the tough-guy attitude that comes across. Dave is one of the best young rappers whose flaws keep staying apparent on the many pop singles he hops on from other artists, but never lets them become the problem in his projects.