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British-Nigerian Rapper Dave's Debut Album 'Psychodrama' has Won the Mercury Prize

The album has been hailed as 'the boldest and best British rap album in a generation.'

British-Nigerian rapper, Dave, released his debut album Psychodrama in March this year and it was certified gold in just three months. The album entered the UK charts at number and has sold over 100 000 copies to date, according to the BBC. Alongside the likes of British-Nigerian MC Little Simz, the experimental rock group Black Midi and Nao, Dave was nominated for this year's Mercury Prize at the end of July. This year's judging panel included artists such as Stormzy, Jorja Smith and Tshepo Mokoena, among several other notable individuals.

Yesterday, Dave took home the prestigious Mercury Prize for his debut album which has since been dubbed "the boldest and best British rap album in a generation."


Psychodrama has received critical acclaim since its release. It's lead single, "Black", caused quite a stir among certain listeners after it played on BBC Radio 1. The track, which talks about how Black people are generally perceived in the UK, caused some to feel that it was "racist towards White people". However, one of this year's Mercury Prize judges, Annie Mac, defended it saying that, "If you are genuinely offended by the idea of a man talking about the color of his skin and how it has shaped his identity, then that is a problem for you."

In his acceptance speech, Dave thanked his fellow nominated artists Little Simz, Nao and Slowthai and paid tribute to his brother, Christopher, who is currently in prison.

Speaking after the ceremony, Dave described the moment saying that, "This is surreal. It is a massive honor and I am glad that I've been able to repay the faith that a lot of people have put in me." He added that, "I have good days and bad days, but you see the team around me, my friends, my family, they kept me strong through this process."

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This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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