It seems that we have been waiting a hot minute for the release of Dave’s ‘Six Paths’ EP and after a consecutive run of singles, we finally have the full project which dropped at 00:01am Friday morning. Before even getting into it, I put the fact that this is Dave’s first project in the back of mind but by the time the titular track was over, that fact was nothing but an afterthought.
‘Six Paths’ feels like a movie intro, with the operatic instrumental building over the past 30 seconds before Dave takes to the track. The Six Paths title already suggested that the project would tackle the topic of choices and this is affirmed in the first track with a hook that ponders on what could have been [“Man took so many different risks on so many different days. When I got have been rich, I could have been dead, I could of have been locked in the cage”.] As with previous releases, ‘JKYL+HYD’ and ‘Karma’, ‘Six Paths’ serves as a reminder of how Dave is way ahead of his age and is proud of his accomplishments from young “All my Gs look fly and young and that’s why the olders hate me!” The track is a perfect introduction to the EP but also a perfect introduction to Dave. He makes it clear that he is here for a reason and isn’t backing down for nobody.
Previously released ‘Picture Me’ carries on the flow nicely with the gentle piano keys leading us in. As mentioned in our cover story Why He’s No Ordinary Dave, ‘Picture Me’ on first listening reminded me of a 2016 version of Nas’ ‘I Can’. Not only because of the simple piano backing but the clear message throughout, that your life is not predetermined and you make the path you take. While Nas used the medium of others to discuss positive and negative life choice, Dave uses himself and this instantly makes the track more relatable.
Many of Dave’s listeners will be facing tough decisions and there is no better track to help with that than ‘Picture Me’. At times during the track, he breaks down the “4th wall” of music and reaches out to the listener, asking “I don’t know your picture can you paint it for me?” and telling people “don’t let anybody tell you you can’t run, dance, sing, or be a baller. You can be a king”. While the track doesn’t fit convention – the track doesn’t feature a chorus – the track flows effortlessly and almost serves as Dave’s monologue to his fans. Also, his live version at Maida Vale with Semtex is epic.
Dave has never been afraid to tackle a wide range of instrumentals that blur the lines between genres and third track ‘Panic Attack’ continues that tradition. Picking up the tempo with a bolt of electric guitar, Dave’s mood seems to have changed and he begins to questions his previous decisions; “Probably be killed by my cousins back in Africa if they knew I risked my free water, hot food and resources every day to dress nicer on the camera”. But alongside these reflective moments, Dave is adamant that he doesn’t regret a thing and that every decision, whatever the outcome has made him who he is today. ‘Panic Attack’ also allows Dave to let loose a little bit, dropping some perfectly worded rhyming couplets – seamlessly rhyming TGI, PPI, CGI whilst remaining on topic. Half way through the track and marking the exact middle of the tape, Dave drops “I’m not a rapper, I’m a fucking genius”. This simple statement is a bookend between the two halves of the tape and is almost Dave accepting the path he is on and doing it with confidence. One of the highlights of ‘Six Paths’ comes at the end of this track when the beat fades away and we’re left alone with Dave as he goes in acapella;
“At any given time, I’ve been there and done that, on many different nights. It’s probably the reason I got many different rhymes, I’m really living life”.
After a heavy hitting few tracks, there is time to ‘Breathe’ as Dave takes on the role of narrator as he talks on the road life and the media’s portrayal of modern day youth [“Community thinks that we’re poison, we made girls hold guns like Lara Croft”]. The hook is comparatively simple to what we have come to expect from Dave but it does its job in reinforcing the message he is trying to portray. The track shows us yet another side of Dave, as he asks for an opportunity to breathe and seeks guidance from a higher power. Again, as a listener, we can relate to these feelings and empathise with his situation. His take on social commentary is told through fascinating and clever metaphors [“South London is like the Garden of Eden and that House of Commons is where the serpents dance”] and he is unapologetic with his feelings of rage at the system around him. At times, the two messages of the track don’t seem to blend as easily as other tracks but his confidence to experiment is noteworthy and doesn’t take away from the overall delivery.
Last week, we were treated to the visuals for ‘Wanna Know’ as Dave and crew took to Italy to relax, have fun and ride gondolas. The vibe of the track is exactly what the video portrays as ‘Wanna Know’ almost serves as a victory lap for Dave as he tops off what has been a great first 12 months. While this is shown in the visuals with the juxtaposition of Dave going from a staircase in Streatham to a staircase in Venice, the song talks on where is come from and where he is now – including providing for his family [“I put forty on my H&M jeans and the rest came free. I told my mum I’ll give her everything I own”]. The song also sees Dave switching it up once again as he flexes his vocals with an infectious hook that will have you singing it all day after one listen. His singing is another string to his bow and adds another element to his delivery. While Dave the Storyteller is most prominent on ‘Six Paths’, this version of Dave looks to steal the show.
Final track ’71/End Credits’ starts off with a freestyle vibe, something that we know Dave does with style [his turn on Semtex’s show speaks for itself]. As Dave professes “I trying to retire at 40, I aint working until 71”, he sprays out talking on his team, the haters and his desire to succeed. It almost seems that is Dave’s final blow out and he wants to finish on a high note. I started off by saying that ‘Six Paths’ was not just a project, but a movie and Dave’s ‘End Credits’ serve as a perfect conclusion. Over a slow paced guitar rift, Dave takes the time to thank his fans, friends and the DJs that have put him on. A special shout out goes out to his mum and is a touching reminder of Dave’s commitment to his family, even sending love to his brother in jail. A phone call to his mum ends the tape on personal note and caps off what feels like a very personal project.
While the topic of choices was always clear, I think Dave uses the project to discuss the choices in front of him and by the end, he knows who he is. He’s Dave.