@santandave

Dave’s We’re All Alone In This Together album review

Written by Matt Slocum 

At just 23 years old, Santan Dave has reached a height where a lot of artists would be comfortable retiring at. He was just 18 when Drake hopped on the remix of his hit single ‘Wanna Know’. Dave is highly regarded for his pen, his production skills and his versatility. As one of the best story tellers in hip hop today, Dave never fails to live up to the high expectations set for him at such a young age.  

Ater a two-year hiatus, Dave is back with his anticipated follow up from PSYCHODRAMA, his debut album, which won a Mercury Prize. PSYCHODRAMA was received with an extremely positive reception. It was a concept album, based on Dave sitting through a therapy session which features in-track commentary from a therapist. Each song was about a struggle in his life and was extremely relatable. It explored financial hardship and his experience growing up in Streatham. Other notable talking points were racial inequality, past family struggles, his stance on politics in the UK and mental health. All of these topics were rapped over incredible production with insane rhyme schemes and punchlines. At 21, Dave had announced himself to the world. 

Fans were highly anticipating his second album after not hearing an awful lot from him musically over the last year or so. He executive produced Money Can’t Buy Happiness, an album released by close collaborator Fredo early this year. He also featured on the album’s lead single, ‘Money Talks’. As months went by, Dave teased fans on Instagram, giving them hints of an album being in the works, and subsequently dropped two singles named ‘Titanium’ and ‘Mercury’ in April. Dave didn’t really do much promotion for this album, apart from an interview with British GQ last month, where he teased again saying “I’m close, it should be done, a matter of words away” when questioned about new music. He went more in depth about what to expect from this album, saying it was “a complex story” and it was “self-aware”. The same day as this interview was released, he took to Instagram to officially announce his sophomore album entitled We’re All Alone In This Together, along with a release date, 23 July. Three days later he dropped the music video for the lead single, ‘Clash’, with help from Stormzy.  

My favorite song on the album is probably ’In The Fire’. This song has unlisted features from UK heavyweights Fredo, Meekz, Ghetts and Giggs. The production on this song is impeccable. They all slide uninterrupted over a soul sample with an addictive baseline. With three of the UK’s biggest artists going toe-to-toe with each other on a song with Dave, you already knew it was going to be crazy. It was also a good opportunity for Meekz to prove himself alongside some of the most respected UK rappers and propel him into the mainstream. They each talked about their success, past criminal convictions, and beefs within the rap game.  

On this album, Dave touches many topics such as struggles of families immigrating to the UK, specifically his mother’s struggles, which is a constant theme throughout the album. He touches on the upsides and downsides of his success, as well as giving us a few songs for the summer such as ‘Verdansk’, ‘System’, and ‘Lazarus’. Dave opens up about past relationships on ‘Law of Attraction’ and ‘Survivors Guilt’There are plenty of features on this song, from James Blake to Wizkid, as well as another Nigerian singer named Boj. There’s a feature from Snoh Aalegrah on ‘Law of Attraction’ and vocals from Jorja Smith on the outro, ‘Survivors Guilt’ 

My pick for best guest feature has to be James Blake. From assisting Dave and a few others on the production on this album, to his feature on ‘Both Sides Of A Smile’he had a special impact on this project. We’ve seen Blake feature with other rappers before, notably ‘Kings Dead’ with Kendrick Lamar, Future, Jay Rock, and ‘Mile High’ with Travis Scott. Blake is a genius producer and a great singer who offers effortlessly somber vocals and can create a vibe with artists that you wouldn’t expect at all.  

In my opinion, this album is a masterpiece. I’ve listened to it at least six or seven times since its release on the 23 July and with every listen it gets better and better. This album is full of upsides, and little downside. The upsides are the top tier production, Dave’s effortless bars, the features and the subject matter. It doesn’t really have a fall off, and it captures the listeners attention by the way it tells a story throughout. By the end of the album, it feels like you know more about Dave today, the 23-year-old rapper, and what it took for him to get to where he is today. This was different to his previous release, that took you for a rollercoaster ride through his thoughts, emotions and experiences growing up in Streatham.  

The one downside to this album is the two lengthy tracks towards the end. Although I personally enjoyed these songs and think they are an important part of the album, listeners may need to take a break from listening as track nine, ‘Both Sides Of A Smile’ is over seven minutes long, and track 11, ‘Heart Attack’ is over nine minutes. We may not see these songs in many peoples’ rotation, but they are most definitely an important part of this project.  

We’re All Alone In This Together debuted at number one on the Spotify global charts, and 10of the songs take up all of the Spotify UK top 10 as of right now. This album shows Dave’s undeniable talent and growth as a rapper and as a writer and sets him up for much more future success at such a young age. Go check it out on your preferred streaming service now, you won’t regret it.  

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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