Dave – Game Over EP Review

The UK rapper comes through with a mixed set of tracks.

During the past couple of years, South London rapper Dave, or David Santan as it says on his birth certificate, has had a meteoric rise to fame. With high profile endorsers such as Stormzy and Wiley and a few handfuls of tracks that would pique the interest of even the toughest rap critic. His more politically minded lyrics set him apart from the rest of the Grime scene, however, he doesn’t overstep the border into preachy territory.

Going into this EP, he released “Question Time” as a single, a song heavy on the politics and heavy on scrutiny of politicians. With opening lyrics “A question for the new prime minister / How’d you have a heart so sinister?” it’s apparent that Dave isn’t taking any prisoners on this track. Shots are fired in every direction: Prime Minister Theresa May, her predecessor David Cameron and even Jeremy Corbyn, questioning their motives and policies atop a slick Fraser T Smith beat.

The EP goes through different subject matters on different songs, but one standout is the 7 minutes and 25 seconds long “How I Met My Ex”. Aside from a few synth embellishments, the song is a sweeping piano ballad from start to finish, with Dave rapping on top of it. He describes how he fell for, and then promptly found himself breaking up with, a love interest with no shortage of detail (as you would expect from a 7-minute track singularly about a relationship). The piano is played impeccably by Santan, and his lyrics are disarmingly honest and heartfelt given this is the same rapper who has released songs as braggadocios as 2016’s “Thiago Silva”’.

Another highlight of the EP, in an entirely different vein to “How I Met My Ex”, is “No Words”. This is much more upbeat, and with a feature from MoStack the emphasis is taken off Dave, which was especially needed with the track coming after “How I Met My Ex”. With the core of the beat being a piano loop, comparisons can be drawn to Dave’s single from earlier this year “Samantha”, and personally I’d argue they’re two of his best. To further the Samantha comparisons, the hook on “No Words” is insanely catchy, almost to the point that it gets stuck in your head for days on end.

However, with the highs also come the lows. In this case, I feel that the mid-section of the EP, “Attitude” and “Calling Me Out”, don’t showcase Dave’s talents particularly well. The hooks aren’t even as half as catchy as “No Words”, and although the bars are solid at points, I feel like these two tracks aren’t Dave at his best. That being said, as a rapper, he has set a pretty high standard for himself; these tracks aren’t bad, they’re just a tad mediocre.

Overall though, the highs are more standout than the lows on this EP. The pure emotion of “How I Met My Ex”, the political depth of “Question Time” and the sheer catchiness of “No Words” outweigh a couple of more average tracks. I would recommend this to any fans of UK Hip Hop and Grime.

You can listen to “Question Time” here.

By Zach Harrison

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