Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Dave – Wanna Know

So, can you seriously imagine yourself saying this to a friend: “I just heard this really great new artist. His name is Dave.” No, neither can we.


Micha Cavaseno: In an echo of the past, just like how 03-04’s grime radicalism gave way to preciousness and catering to the needs of a whining and hand-wringing record industry which doesn’t like having to learn about styles of music beyond novelty, we’re back on our bullshit again as the grime revival has been subverted in making Dave the artist of the future. Dave fits the Jamal Edwards-forged career blueprint of UK urban music laden with respectability and retroactivity; the minute he demonstrated that unlike his ‘ruffian’ peers he can do something so PRECIOUS as play the piano in live performances for Live Lounge or Edwards’ SB.TV, demonstrating that unlike his monotonous chatterbox peers he has some ‘talent’ for people with disdain for MCing, it was clear who is going to get to be the breakout star of this fleeting resurgence. It doesn’t matter that the Drakk-cosigned and remixed “Wanna Know” is a monotonous bore that has little to nothing to do with grime, where our fledgling artist on the rise treats us to played out “I’m more clever than the haters or the girls who I attract” bars, the melodic sense of a sewer main and leaden flows with no technique (of all the begrudging respect I can give a Drakk cosign, this might be the most baffling) we are being told there is a lyricism and craft you cannot find among the louts who clamor in the studios of Radar or NTS trying to hone their craft and actually you know… participate in the genre. But hey, its not like there aren’t thousands of other talents in England who deserve a chance to be heard outside of YouTube channels or mixtapes who can do what he does better, right? That’d be ridiculous.

Iain Mew: The lovely, delicate production isn’t suited to livening up a flattening emphasis on success as a source of petty resentments. A few of Dave’s finer details do shine though, both in the way he changes up speed and some distinctive imagery to go with it like turning a watch reference into the swinging hands in a fight.

Crystal Leww: Dave’s description on the BBC Sound Of website is “plaintive rapper with classical training.” Dave’s song is about enemies, but it might as well be about 17th century English literature. Dave’s song about his enemies ends with a Santana-esque riff at the end. Dave is kind of cute, but I don’t think I would be able to hold a conversation long enough for a date with Dave.

Josh Langhoff: During my heretical years I started grouping musicians into a genre called “honorary Christian music.” Honorary Christian songs weren’t about Jesus, but they trudged like the worst Christian pop through dull litanies of obligation, sacrificing sex and humor at the altar of sober earnestness. Mostly I was mad at the final Hüsker Dü album, but I’d happily usher Dave The Rapper into the fold. If he’d stop cussing and talking about his watches, Dave could be the token British guy on Reach Records. He’s got all the hallmarks of mediocre CCM: homemade beats free of samples or personality, studious wordplay, piano parts to class things up, and a clear eye on the “recommended if you like Drake” slot on one of those side-by-side comparison charts. “Wanna Know” isn’t even Dave’s most egregious offense against the game on his debut EP — that’d be “Panic Attack,” which attempts to evangelize The Youth with corny James Bond and Pulp Fiction references. But “Wanna Know” is slower.

Rebecca A. Gowns: Drake, Drake, and more Drake, in content and in sound. The one unique thing about this is Dave’s flow, which is as steady and warm as a hot spring. I just want to hear him rapping about things other than juggling light-skinned women with pretty faces.

Katherine St Asaph: I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t find much to latch onto here. I think you know what the problem is as well as I do.

Ramzi Awn: Dave has all the right moves, and the single coasts like the tide. The rap is beside the point, but all’s well that ends well.

Thomas Inskeep: I like my hip-hop with a little smudge on it, not quite so clean and polite-sounding. YMMV. 

Madeleine Lee: With its spare bass-and-acoustic guitar beat, 3-note hook, and heavy use of regional slang, I’m not surprised this song is the latest stop on Drake’s cultural cosplay world tour. But Dave outdoes him here with a single, sublime line: “Imagine being the reason two girls are fighting.” Imagine!

Megan Harrington: Do British kids turn on Dave real quick when their parents walk in on them listening to Skepta? “Wanna Know” is crisp and quiet enough to soundtrack a night of math homework. Keep listening long enough and you might just get your GCSE, kids. 

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